The colorful Spanish Village Art Center in Balboa Park is a community of more than 250 artists from the San Diego area. Their studios are housed in 37 galleries, which are open to the public for viewing free of charge. Visitors are invited to enjoy the work of painters, sculptors, jewelry designers, clay artists, printmakers, and photographers. Also represented here are metal smiths, fiber artists, basket makers, gourd and glass artists, enamellists, and more.
The village is also home to a number of local art guilds and organizations. Noteworthy among them are the Art Glass Guild of San Diego, the San Diego Potters' Guild, the Sculptors Guild, the Enamel Guild, the San Diego Woodcarvers Guild, and the Southwestern Artist Association.
The brightly hued buildings and courtyards in which the artists work were constructed in 1935 as part of the second California Pacific International Exposition. The structures were meant to resemble a charming old village in Spain. In 1937, the gathering of quaint buildings was reopened as an art center at the insistence of a group of dedicated and farsighted local artists.
Here, visitors can purchase original works of fine art and crafts by local experts while enjoying the beauty of Balboa Park. Thanks to its unique architecture, the village itself is a historical landmark, much frequented by professional and amateur photographers alike. Picnickers can enjoy resting on the patios, surrounded by a mosaic of colorful cobblestones. The entire village is plugged in as a free Wi-Fi hotspot, too.
Various arts demonstrations are conducted in the village by artists at a number of locations. Among the regulars is glass-blowing demonstrated at Studio 19 daily. Classes are also available for individuals, ranging from pottery, basketry, ceramics, jewelry, and metal arts to Chinese brush painting, silk painting, and water colors.
One special event held here each year is the "December Nights'' weekend, when the entire village decks the halls for the holidays and Santa Claus comes to town. It is an opportunity for all to express the joy of the season, while having photos taken with Saint Nick. Other regular events include the juried Catnip Connection exhibition in July, with all feline art on display, and the village's own annual Fall Arts Festival in October.
The 37 studios of the Spanish Village Art Center's working artists are open to the public from 11am to 4pm daily, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Small image shows and special events are held at Gallery 21, which is available for rent to all San Diego County artists. The main patios may also be rented for receptions, weddings and other social events as well as for outdoor art displays.
Local artists who have never exhibited are especially encouraged to take advantage of the village's outreach program and join in at least one national/international exhibit per year. A nominal fee is charged for participation.
The Spanish Village Art Center is located in Balboa Park at 1770 Village Place, San Diego, California 92101. By car, get on the I-5 South to the 10th Avenue Exit. Turn left onto A Street and follow it to Park Boulevard. Turn left on Park follow the signs to the Balboa Park. A parking lot is located adjacent to the village.