The Heart of Art: Salazar’s San Diego
Interview: San Diego art dealer Alexander Salazar
Story by Orin Louis
Photo by Leo Malevanchik
Alexander Salazar — one of the friendliest people I’ve met as well as one of the busiest. We met this summer at his (awesome) “white party” at the W Hotel. Everyone I ask about the man utterly reveres him; as we speak, I begin to understand why. He’s not very large in stature and doesn’t wax flashy, but his trademark blonde ponytail, bright eyes and warm, easy smile make him stand a head above the crowd.
His downtown studios feature the works of a diverse variety of international and local, established and emerging artists. With impeccable qualifications and over 15 years of art dealing experience around the country, art parties, exhibitions, lectures, philanthropy, community and charity events are his lifeblood.
OL: What do you do?
AS: I’m trying to give Californian artists a diving board. It’s really not about me. I’m an art matchmaker. I’ve been doing it for 14 years. In San Diego, I match local [artists] with local [buyers]. Nobody’s done that before.
OL: Why is that important?
AS: Most people know to go to L.A., New York, or Europe. I’m trying to teach artists to build a reputation locally first, and then people will grab you. I’m working toward changing the attitude.
OL: What motivates you?
AS: Number one, I have to like it. If I don’t, I can’t represent. This comes from years of experience. Liking something is across the board for anyone buying art. You buy what you like and invest in what you love. When you are spending a lot of money, it becomes a serious purchase. I pick my artists based first and foremost on what I like; then based on what my clients want. Of course, it’s much easier if they have an idea of what they want.
OL: How do you choose a piece for a location? [He recently placed over 40 artworks in the San Diego W Hotel (in which we speak).]
AS: I make sure it doesn’t just match, but that it actually fits in with the vibe of the area and the people coming in and experiencing it. A lot more is involved than just matching color. Sometimes you can settle on something that is so completely different and it works.
I studied art at Colorado College before earning a master’s at Boston College. Then I earned another master’s in Russian iconography at Harvard.” “Really?” I ask, surprised by this choice of study. “So much of art is religious,” he explains. “I have my business and my personal and my business is very contemporary/modern. Religious art is my personal passion. My other personal passion is giving people what they want.”
OL: You love your job, huh?
AS: Yeah, it’s a lot of fun, actually!
On our way out, Alex pulls me aside to add, “The most important thing is that there are not enough galleries for artists in SD. Artists need to get together…I am merely encouraging them to collaborate.” Although, I’ve heard this from many in this town before, it’s refreshing to hear it from someone actively working toward a solution.
5 spaces dedicated to art now.. 30,000 sf in art space, all within a one block radius.
625 Broadway – Brokerage Offices – By Appointment Only
635 Broadway – Artist In Residence Studio
640 Broadway – Art Gallery
1040 7th Avenue – White Box Contemporary – Exhibitions By Appointment
640 C Street – Artist in Residence Studio
Visit Alexander Salazar Fine Art at three art spaces in Downtown San Diego.