Came from: Florida
Year: Started with Sushi’s sweet 16 fundraiser
Position: All Around Great Guy
Now: San Diego’s North County
So, in 1989 I was living in New Mexico. I was working for Santa Fe artist Frank Howell. He needed some help with his gallery in La Jolla and asked if I would help out for 6 months or so. At the time he was showing a San Diego artist, by the name of Jim Bess. Jim and his photographer wife, Dianne were visiting Santa Fe to see the gallery. We hit it off from the start. They graciously offered to let me stay in their home while I was in town. That was 26 years ago and I am still living in San Diego.
My early years in San Diego were spent in the East Village on 9th and K, currently known as the First base line at Petco Park. The building was the Artplex and was the brain child of Jim and Dianne Bess as they expanded their greeting card business to that address. Ultimately deciding on giving up the greeting card business and instead decided to make it their home. With 14,000 square feet, that’s a lot of home. So, they took the top floor and turned into a private residence, with a working elevator, and Jim’s painting studio. The rest of the building would house a variety of artistic endeavors. Lela Harty Painting School, an Interior design firm, a painter, an Architect. Jim even converted the basement into a printing studio later on. It was a magical place to me.
The neighborhood was fascinating. Of course, the East Village would be barely recognizable from what it was to what it is. Back in my day, the Re-InCarnation Project (currently ICON) was just a dream in Wayne Buss’s mind. But he still managed to put on mixed media performing art shows in the outer portion that I could see just by walking to the corner. Of course he realized that dream to a great degree of acclaim and revitalized that part of town along with Bob Sinclair (of Panikin fame). Of course, I liked downtown like it used to be, where you had Croce’s and Fio’s across the street from each other and a selection of Dive Bars close by. Think “The Orient”, “Bodie’s” and the “Star Bar”. To name a few. Now, only the Star Bar is left, I think.
There was the best Famer’s Market on the old Western Steel building between 7th and 8th on K Street. It caught fire one year and I remember the image of Jim Bess on the roof of the Artplex trying to extinguish and sparks while there was a 20 alarm fire raging across the empty lot. And it had the best food court and little market. I wish I could remember the name of the little Italian spot.
more to come… soon
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San Diego East Village Project