Interview time! In the past, as a musician, I had given many interviews with the bands I worked with but I’m proud to give them now as an artist. I have copied them here for easy reading but a link is provided if you want to go to the website who featured me. Thank you to these great art supports and thank YOU for reading!
SDVoyager Interview as Curator for La Playa Gallery
May 10, 2018
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.
- Address:La Playa Gallery
2226 Avenida de la Playa
La Jolla, CA 92037
Today we’d like to introduce you to Erica Putis.
Erica, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
Sure! I would love to.
I grew up in Vermont and spent many hours walking around the 20 acres my family owned. Because it was a small town I learned to entertain myself and much of that time was spent creating. I would make jewelry, Barbie clothes and drawings and try to sell it to my fellow 3rd graders. I suppose my Mom instilled an entrepreneurial spirit in me since she had started and owned many businesses her whole life.
I studied art, music and theater in high school and decided to follow music and theater into college. It was in college that I joined my first band. It was intoxicating and I spent the next 15 years of my life singing and playing bass in a number of bands on the East and West coast. I continued to create art but it wasn’t until 2011 that I started to really paint again.
After I moved to San Diego in 2005 with one of my bands I also created a clothing company called, www.nuclearclothing.com. During that time I was involved with many runway shows and photo shoots. I fell in love with makeup artistry and started to create my own, all natural products, www.nuclearmakeup.com. But, when I started painting again in 2011 it became obvious that art was becoming another new passion for me so I created an artist page, www.ericaputisart.com and slowly switched my time and energy from music/fashion to painting. I still create music solo music, www.julicadann.com and collaborate with some musicians but purely for fun.
Because of my inquisitive nature to experience all creative things I decided to start writing and in 2015 published my first book. I wrote a young adult fairy tale and it was so rewarding I started a novel. All of the websites I have mentioned (I know, there are a lot), I am still excited about and working on, but www.ericaputis.com is where everything is linked and where I post about my writing activities.
In 2016 I became the curator for La Playa Gallery in La Jolla Shores, CA and I just love this job. It lets me connect with local artists in a way that is so refreshing and rewarding. Being an artist, I have an inside view on the needs of the San Diego art community, the unique qualities of each individual artist we feature and I feel honored to be a part of it. I love shedding light on our vibrant art scene and continuing this new creative movement in SD. I can only hope that what I create personally, and as a curator, adds to this community in a positive way.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
When I started painting again in 2011 I was using it as a tool to get through an emotional period in my life. Needless to say it worked and my love of art came rushing back to me. I also found the skills I had acquired in high school never went away so my attention to detail started to take shape again. The reason I didn’t go to college for art was that I felt I lacked imagination since all I could do was copy photographs. But as an adult, (well… kind of an adult) I wasn’t afraid to experiment with paint anymore. Perfection was no long a goal as most people find out with time. So, yes, I always want my finished piece to look good but the process was more important now. It wasn’t about if people liked it or not, it was about if I liked it and felt a connection with it. Not needing approval of others is incredibly empowering.
I create because I can. I don’t really have a specific style and I know that is often looked down upon, but I feel life is too short to limit myself to just one style or subject. There are so many amazing, beautiful things in the world that inspire me and to limit myself feels like a disservice. So I have many different series in different mediums. I love painting with oils and acrylics. I love working with fibers and weaving. I love sculpting from clay, foil or plaster. I love making wearable art as in jewelry, clothes or skin care. I find it impossible to narrow it down to one medium or subject.
I suppose it all comes down to my love of nature and science. I find beauty in a simple leaf, the structure of an atom or in a devastating tornado. Socially, I find myself in a love/hate relationship with humans that is also portrayed in my work at times. This little planet we live on is so inspiring, terrifying and beautiful that I try to find a balance between them. It’s difficult, but when I find that balance it makes the world we live in easier to understand and that much more enjoyable.
What do you know now that you wished you had learned earlier?
I have been teaching art for a few years and my only real advice is… make sure you are having fun. It’s SO important. If you aren’t enjoying yourself then why are you doing it? Life it too short do to things that make you miserable, whether it be a job, bad relationship or creating something.
Specifically, with art, don’t worry about how it looks when you are done. Creativity is like a muscle. The more you work it out and practice the better you get. Everyone can create. You just have to give yourself a chance get better. Natural born talent can only get you so far. Practice and you will get better. And even if you don’t practice a ton… just have fun. DONE!! Haha.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
You can see my artwork at http://www.ericaputisart.com. If you want to see the other projects I work on feel free to visit www.ericaputis.com. Supporting my work would be to buy it! I need to pay bills too you know! Haha
This week I interview the multi-talented Erica Putis. She is a renaissance woman, producing an impressive amount of diverse work. She was able to break away from her many responsibilities to spend some time to chat online.
Brian Baxter, Art Guide San Diego: Hi Erica, thanks for taking the time out of your busy day!
Erica Putis: Thanks for having me!
AGSD: I know you are an artist of many mediums, sculptor, gallery curator, musician, clothing designer, skincare alchemist, makeup artist… All of this must keep you quite busy!
E.P.: That list sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Haha… Well, I like to keep creatively busy. I find it hard to limit myself to one area which I think confuses some people because they don’t know exactly what I do, but I can’t help it. There are just so many cool things to make! My bucket list is super long and I keep adding new projects. I’m going to have to live to 120 years to complete it!
AGSD: Or maybe clone you!
E.P.: Haha… That would work too!
AGSD: You recently became a gallery curator. How has that experience been?
E.P.: Yes, last year I became the curator for La Playa Gallery in La Jolla Shores. I have put on many events in the past but this was my first time working for a small gallery and I have to say I love it. It’s great because I feel like I can really make a difference in the art community in San Diego. The gallery owners are really letting me use my instinct for selecting local artists and putting on shows that are cohesive and exciting. I try to switch up the styles of art so that people keep coming back to each show. I want La Playa Gallery to be associated with quality not a particular style because art is so subjective and everyone has certain likes and dislikes.
Part of the reason I think they hired me is because I am an artist myself and it brings a different perspective to the position. I have the opportunity to give new artists a chance to show with more established artists. It’s not about who you know or how popular you are… to me, it’s about amazing art and bringing this amazing art to the public. I put on a new show every three months or so and that keeps me very busy since I manage the gallery as well. We have rotating art, sculptures and jewelry all year round which keeps it fresh and fun to visit even during regular business hours which are M-F 10-5pm, but the shows are the best… lots of fun people, great art and wine & cheese. What more could anyone ask for? Haha…
AGSD: Your show openings are fun and well attended. Where do you find the inspiration on what to show?
E.P.: Thanks! I get inspired by so many things but I do try to have a theme. Often the artists I follow and know inspire a new show. I like to incorporate no more than 3 or 4 artists in each exhibit so that each person gets to show a good selection of their work. As an artist, I find when I do a show with more than one of my pieces it is much more satisfying. As long as I get the go ahead from gallery owners on the artists picked, I start to book the show and get the ball rolling. It’s challenging at times but very rewarding.
AGSD: Speaking of showing your work, what are you working on now for your own artistic expression?
E.P.: Oh man… There are so many things I’m working on right now. It’s so exciting!
Well, first off I have started collaborating with Michael Cooley. He is a master craftsman, woodworker and sculptor. He is creating wood carvings/sculptures and I am painting them. Michael is also teaching me the ins and outs of building custom furniture, kitchens and restoration. Everything we make will be found on Timewilltelldesigns.com. I’m still working on the website but I’m excited to collaborate with someone so talented.
I am still painting on my own as well. I am in the middle of many different series and eventually try create 5 or more pieces for each one. I work in acrylics, oils and pen and I am mostly inspired by nature and science. I try not to set any strict rules for myself though. Most of my paintings can be found on Ericaputisart.com. I am learning more about clay right now – throwing it and also free hand sculpting with it. Super fun.
I’m also super excited about my skincare line. It started one day a few years ago when I looked up a recipe for natural lip balm. I was blown away and became slightly obsessed with different flavors and products. Being a makeup artist I loved that I could create my own products, naturally and safely. I have created lip balms, perfume oil, cuticle oil, candles and incense. I am always trying new new things and eventually want to create makeup, soap and other products. That website is Nuclearmakeup.com
There are just so many beautiful things that I want to see or create that it’s a little overwhelming.
The sister site to that is my clothing company, Nuclearclothing.com. I have taken a break from runway shows but I am still sewing and making tons of jewelry, some of which are at La Playa Gallery. I love wire wrapping natural rocks and crystals, along with beads. Someday I will learn how to silversmith. Bucket list!!
Many people know me as a musician… I almost went to college for art but decided to go for music and theater. About 10 years ago my band and I moved to San Diego. At one point I was in three bands at the same time! It was fun but needed a change so I picked up my paint brush again and started on a new chapter of art. I haven’t stopped singing though. I still record and produce my own music and even make music videos for fun. That site is Julicadann.com.
Lastly, as a new venture, I have started writing books! I finished my first one last year and I am in the process of illustrating, publishing and recording the audio book for it. It’s a young adult book about finding magic… Who doesn’t want a bit of magic in their lives? It was a real eye opening and exciting experience. So much so, I have started my second book! I don’t have a website for this yet but will make one soon.
That’s a lot of websites, huh? Or you can just go to Ericaputis.com and they are all linked there. I can’t help it that I like to do so many different things! Too many fun things to do with not enough time!
AGSD: I didn’t see anything about sleep, so I’ll assume that is how you have enough time to do everything.
E.P.: Haha… I actually do sleep. I’m at my best with 7 hours. And I’ve been know to veg out and watch TV too!
AGSD: Is there a thread that goes through all your work? Like certain music inspiring art, which inspires clothing, etc.
E.P.: Not really… I am kind of random with what inspires me. There are just so many beautiful things that I want to see or create that it’s a little overwhelming. Not the projects but the time I have to do it. Humans have such short lifespans. I just hope I can fill mine as full as possible with as many awesome things as possible. I am teaching an art class at Westly Palms retirement center right now and that is one thing my lovely older students have taught me. They have so much wisdom and have experienced many things. I hope when I look back on my life I can say the same.
AGSD: You said you moved to San Diego with your band. Where are you from, and have you always been inspired to get so much accomplished?
E.P.: I grew up in Vermont and went to college in Massachusetts. When I was a musician I still had to work a full time job but I was always writing, practicing, recording and doing all of the back end work for the band I moved here with, The Predicates. I still did a lot of work for the bands I joined after, Recordable Colors and The Mashtis, but was more of a back up singer and bass player. I enjoyed not having so much responsibility since I was working on building my clothing company. So I guess I have always been creating. Even as a kid I used to make stuff and try to sell it to my fellow 3rd graders.
My Mom is a huge inspiration. She has started several successful business starting in the 70’s, during a time when it was looked down upon to be a woman as a business owner. As I kid I didn’t realize this. I always said I would never own my own business because she worked all of the time and when you are a kid, work does not equal fun. But wouldn’t you know it, when I grew up the only thing I wanted to do was work for myself and when you are passionate about something like that, it doesn’t always feel like work. It feels fun and productive. And I like being productive… as you can see. So I guess both of my parents instilled a certain level of productiveness that I still try to uphold today.
AGSD: Do you have any shows coming up that you want to share with us?
E.P.: Sure! I’m not personally showing anywhere right now but the current show at La Playa Gallery called “Abstract Shapes in Metal and Multimedia” is having an Art Talk on Saturday, Feb 18, 2017 from 12 – 3 pm, where people can talk to our talented featured artists, Jon Koehler, Brittni Cute and Leah Pantea and enjoy some coffee and cookies.
The next show I’m curating for La Playa Gallery is on Friday, March 24, 2017 from 5 – 8 pm. It’s called “Fabricating a Dream” and will be exhibiting three fantastic artists: Cheryl Tall, Cathy Carey and Jason Humphrey. There will be cool art to see and wine and cheese for your taste buds. Both events should be fun!
AGSD: Sounds like fun. I hope people mark their calendars. Is there anything I missed that you would like to talk about?
E.P.: I don’t think so! Thank you so much for inviting me to talk. It’s been an honor and it’s so great what you are doing with your site. The San Diego art scene really needs the support and you are doing a fantastic job!
AGSD: Thanks Erica! Great talking to you. I’ll see you at the gallery.
E.P.: Looking forward to it and thanks again!
February 11, 2016
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