By Roxana Lopez
April 17, 2020
Yesterday marked one month since San Diego County was sheltered in place by California Governor Gavin Newsom. Forcing galleries, museums and small business, to shut down immediately. Many artists rely on these spaces to remain open as they are essential to their income. Since then, many small businesses have gone exclusively online while galleries and museums have gone virtual to maintain a connection with their community. Bread & Salt, an experimental center for the arts in Barrio Logan, quickly turned to social media and found new ways to thrive during the pandemic.
Located in Logan Heights, the current Bread & Salt building once flourished as “Cramer’s Bakery” from 1891 until 1943, when it sold and was renamed “Weber’s Bakery.” Once Weber’s vacated the building in 2006, the property would sit empty until 2012, when it was purchased by James Brown, Principal of Public Architecture and Planning. Brown had a clear vision of what Bread & Salt could become. He hoped to turn it into a thriving community arts center, and gallery space, with artists in residence.
It was important to Brown to keep the integrity of the old building in the its programmatic concept, as it’s what attracted Brown to it in the first place. To this day the abandoned, industrial, bread machine remains in its original position and has become a symbol of the space. Paying respect to its past, while looking to the buildings future.
As of today, Bread & Salt stands tall with its iconic 45ft hand painted mural by local border artist, PANCA. They have hosted 28 exhibitions since its opening in 2013 and with the forced closure of the gallery, they describe Bread & Salt as “experimental center for the arts with strong community ties.” Most recently, they have incorporated the Bread & Salt Press to help support artists that exhibit in their space.
“After the event cancellations, we sat down and said what are we going to do? We have an empty building. We are like the professional version of a family that gets together in their house to talk about what we are going to do in the future. Someone had the idea that we should start talking to our artists. So a week later our head curator Thomas de Mello started hosting these one-hour interviews on Instagram on Tues-Sat. We’re learning so much about artists in this town. That’s a really neat thing that never would have happened [without this pandemic.]”
To keep those community ties thriving, Bread & Salt began hosting LIVE Instagram interviews with past and current artists from their exhibitions program. I was lucky enough to catch a LIVE interview with Bread and Salt’s Curator, Thomas DeMello and current exhibiting bi-national artist, Paola Villaseñor, aka PANCA.
PANCA’S second solo exhibition at Bread & Salt, I AM THE ARCHITECT OF MY OWN MISFORTUNE, which debuted on February 8th, 2020, is available for viewing by appointment during this time. Coinciding with PANCA’s exhibition, Bread & Salt Press will release its first publication filled with more images, interviews and words from the artist.
“These are not catalogs of our exhibitions. Rather, these books supplement our gallery exhibitions with additional imagery, interviews and insights that give a more complete picture of our artist’ creative trajectories,” as stated on their website. “PANCA has spent equal parts of her life in San Diego and Tijuana, she was an easy choice for us.”
One can pre-purchase this unique first edition on Bread & Salt’s website as well as have the option to purchase a limited edition signed copy with an original drawing by the artist. Works of art by PANCA and other artists are also available on their website to purchase.
You can schedule an appointment by visiting their website. https://www.breadandsaltsandiego.com/
Follow Bead & Salt on Instagram @breadandsalt_sandiego to stay up to date on their programs, including upcoming interviews with both emerging and established artists local artists from Tijuana and San Diego.
You can also subscribe to their YouTube channel HERE to catch past interviews.