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Meet Erica Putis of La Playa Gallery in La Jolla Shores

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erica Putis.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Erica. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
La Playa Gallery opened in 2013 and sits in the heart of La Jolla Shores offering local residents, visitors and tourists a warm collection of jewelry, ceramics, sculptures and paintings. The gallery provides the public with a unique set of thematic exhibitions each year. La Playa Gallery takes pride in offering its patrons a unique and individual experience while featuring local artists, bringing a variety of art that may not be seen at other galleries.

La Playa Gallery supports its local art community with an Artist-in-Residency program, hosts educational art classes for all ages and also offers a layaway option. We believe everyone should be able to own art they love and treasure, and we enjoy sparking the creative side of each person with whom we connect. This connection with art and our community is our driving force and we will continue to follow our mission wholeheartedly.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I joined the gallery in 2016 as the curator and what I heard is that, as with most new small business, there were some interesting twists and turns. They had to remodel to make sure the gallery was handicapped accessible and had to close down for a short time to accomplish it. La Playa Gallery then took a slow organic route to become publicly known. When I started working here, they were only hosting two or three shows a year with a limited staff. I decided to really focus on local artists and showcasing their amazing work by coordinating six group art exhibits a year.

Step forward to 2018 and I have increased that number to an eight a year, including solo and group exhibitions. I have also started an artist-in-residence program along with educational classes which will be held at the gallery. These things are very new and we are extremely excited about them.

A small business is always a work in progress so I am constantly working on our website, social media and finding ways to support and engage our local community. When that connection is made, working here is very fulfilling. We love bringing attention to local artists who demonstrate creativity, quality and a willingness to work with us.

La Playa Gallery – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am the curator at La Playa Gallery. I coordinate many exhibits throughout the year along with managing the front and back end of the gallery. We specialize in fine art and jewelry, featuring artwork ranging from paintings, sculpture, fiber art and pottery. I am proud to feature local artists based on quality and not on what is just trendy at the moment or if they are well-known.

I enjoy organizing group exhibitions with no more than four artists that create in different styles or mediums but have something unique that ties them all together. It’s challenging and rewarding to find artists to fit the bill but San Diego is becoming a rich and diverse art community and every day I meet new people who inspire me. If they inspire me, they are bound to inspire someone else and that is such a powerful tool to feel connected to others.

I think what sets us apart from other galleries is our unique selection of artists, location, cozy space and our exciting artist receptions. We love celebrating our featured artists, with the public, while offering wine, cheese, and homemade sweets.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
As a small business, it is always important to make money but that is not the only thing we care about. Of course, in order to stay open, we need the support of our community to take an interest in art.

Buying art is so important in this field because you are not only supporting a local small business you are helping artists put food on the table and buy new supplies to create more artwork. This symbiotic relationship really comes full circle when we all support each other. Artists create work that inspires them, we use our resources to bring their work to the public and the public must buy the artwork so that the artist can continue to create and we can continue to support them.

This is the ultimate definition of success for any small business but is especially important in the world of art. Art is not just an extravagance. Art speaks to every single one of us and creates a bond between what we see, how we deal with our surroundings and the people we come in contact with every day. Art can alter or define our values and beliefs or can even be as simple as making us feel calm or safe. We, at La Playa Gallery, really strive to help fill this need in our community.

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