Quintessential art gallerist makes a bold, new move in La Jolla

By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt

This month, longtime gallerist Mark Quint is starting off his second 30 years on the art scene in a whole new space. Quint, whose original 1981 gallery was a tiny place on La Jolla Boulevard flanked by Margaret’s Cleaners and D.G. Wills Books, will have the grand opening of his latest and largest venue on Saturday, May 21 in the 3000-square-foot former home of Jane’s Fabrique on Girard Avenue.

All these years, in different locations, he has specialized in bringing a broad range of regional and international artists to local attention. Some call him the man who put San Diego’s art world on the map. In fact, there aren’t many art dealers who have been honored as he was in 2009, with an exhibit at California Center for the Arts in Escondido called “Quint: Three Decades of Contemporary Art.”

“I can’t think on any individual who has done more to elevate and promote contemporary art here than Mark Quint,” said Hugh Davies, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD). “He put the Mark in remarkable! His impact on the local art scene has been huge and sustained, and we all owe him a great debt. … He’s a brilliant art man, but a decidedly mediocre golfer.”

Of his success, Quint said, “I really like working with creative people. So everything starts off with the connection between myself and the artists. Then I try to connect them with other interested people — curators and collectors.”

Quint is all about making connections. He has had galleries around the county — from downtown to Miramar — and one of his greatest achievements was InSite, a border-crossing biennial event he created in 1992 to encourage collaborations between artists and institutions in San Diego and Tijuana.

“There were so many venues all over, public and private ones, galleries, museums and universities, and there were just no connections,” he said. “I came up with the name InSite and really liked it. It suggested something insightful, and also the idea of inciting, creating a fire under people.”

His inaugural exhibition on Girard, enigmatically titled “Behind What It Is In Front Of,” will display the connection between the sculptures and videos of Roy McMakin, a UCSD-educated, Seattle-based furniture designer, and one of the artists who inspired him, John McLaughlin (1898-1976).

McLaughlin, considered the father of West Coast minimalism, was himself influenced by Japanese art and the linear abstractions of Piet Mondrian. McMakin used pieces of vintage furniture found at swap meets and thrift stores to create his own playful take on McLaughlin’s hard-edge, Zen-cool paintings.

This will be McMakin’s sixth show for Quint. “I like how eclectic he is,” Quint said. “He works in so many media — painting, sculpture, photography, architectural design — and I like the whimsical nature of his work.”

Quint, who grew up in La Jolla, went to art school in San Francisco, taught at an Episcopal girls’ prep school in Hawaii (”a lot like the Bishop’s School at its beginnings,” he said) and after some years of teaching and surfing, moved back here for good. Today, he lives in the family home he was raised in.

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