City College’s new art gallery opens for its first exhibition


Architects Jeremey Joyce and Ryan Oesling speaking with City Gallery Art Director Y.C. Kim on Aug. 28 at a VIP opening reception. Photo credit: Torrey Spoerer

Torrey Spoerer

For quite some time, San Diego City College was one of the only educational institutions that did not have any working art gallery.

Now, both students at City College and the public can finally have access to its very own fine art shows, presented by both by professional artists and by student artists both current and alumni, at the newly opened Arts and Humanities building’s very own fine art showroom – the City Gallery.

On Aug. 28, the City Gallery hosted a VIP opening reception of the Centennial Alumni Exhibition, on display now through Sept. 25.

“For this show, we asked alumni to come back and show some of their current work to students,” City College Art Director Y.C. Kim said.

61 paintings, drawings, sculptures and mixed media pieces are on display inside the gallery and outside in the sculpture garden, presented by various professional artists that at one point or another attended fine art classes in the San Diego Community College District, along with two short experimental films being repeatedly projected onto the west wall of the gallery.

The two RNT architects responsible for the design and construction management of the new Business Technology and Arts and Humanities buildings – Ralph Oesling and Jeremey Joyce – were among the crowd of VIP attendees viewing the new exhibit.

“We wanted the gallery to have a major sculpture garden that ties in with the quad, so there could be exhibits outside,” Oesling explains. “We then thought of two indoor spaces, one larger and one smaller. We thought the smaller space could be a sub-space for perhaps running two shows at once if needed.”

More dramatic sculptures and art pieces can be easily brought in and put on display, thanks to higher ceilings inside the gallery and the warehouse-style metal curtain doors, with natural light being controlled by the north and south sides of the gallery to let the sculpture garden use more outdoor light while light going into the gallery is softly broken down.

“It’s one thing to walk around the site right after construction is complete, but another to see it in use now as a living site,” says Joyce. “After all the hard work we put into this project, it’s very rewarding to get to see students using this space for the opportunity to present and view their artwork on the City campus.”

Kim has contributed to the planning of the new art gallery from the very start eight years ago, and still has new ideas to add on.

“We were thinking about running a gift shop out of the small gallery room to sell handmade gifts and art pieces made by students and professionals,” mentions Kim.

But first, there are some final tasks to be completed for the newly opened gallery.

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“Right now,” Kim states, “we don’t have any staff, so the teachers and student volunteers are putting in extra hours to prepare and run the opening of the gallery. So we’ll be looking to permanently hire some staff members to help manage the new space.”

Other than that, Kim and everyone else in the arts department are more than satisfied with the end results thus far.

“I have no complaints,” says Kim. “It’s gorgeous and perfect. We love it so much and we’re still too excited about it.”

“Our goal has been – and still is – to see and make room for future growth in the fine arts at City,” Kim said.

City Gallery will host its public reception on Sept. 11 to time its official opening with the City Centennial Week, while their next show afterwards will be an international ceramics exhibit, which will run Oct. 7-14.