High-energy art ‘zar stages grand opening in La Jolla


If you go


Grand Inaugural Event at Salazar Contemporary Art Exhibits


6-9 p.m. Jan. 14


1162 Prospect St.


, (858) 551-8453

By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt

Editor’s note: This is the third art gallery to open in La Jolla in the past month. As newcomers to town, Salazar joins Thumbprint Gallery at 920 Kline St. #104 and Scott White Contemporary Art at 7655 Girard Ave. Suite 101.

Alexander Salazar thinks big.

While other art dealers might content themselves with one exhibition space, he now has six — including an artist-in-residence studio featuring a different artist each month — a total of over 30,000 square feet devoted to art.

Five of the spaces are downtown, on and around Seventh Avenue and Broadway. The latest is in La Jolla at 1162 Prospect St., just a stone’s throw from where he started out as director of

Madison Gallery less than six years ago. After a last-minute “soft” opening in December — “I just couldn’t wait till January!” he said — he’ll be showing off the new space with a “grand inaugural event” on Jan. 14.

“I remember driving down Prospect with my dad in 2001 when I first moved here from Boston, and I got chills when I walked in the door here, thinking how glad I am to come back,” he said. “La Jolla’s a beautiful place and I’m hoping to revitalize it … shake things up a little bit.”

His goal is simple: He’d like to fill every vacant storefront in town with art, and keep staging events that draw more and more people to see, and possibly buy, some of the vast inventory he has collected over his past 15 years as a dealer in high-end art.

“I’ve already been contacted by four property owners who want me to make their storefronts beautiful,” he said. “And I’ve had five sales this past week!”

For the opening exhibit, he has chosen the abstract surf-and-sundrenched paintings of Erik Skoldberg, born and raised in La Jolla, and the bright-colored aluminum sculptures of Kevin Barrett, a second-generation sculptor who lives and works in New York.

“We want everyone to come in, enjoy, and revisit,” he said. “We’ll have changing exhibits each month, and we’ll feature local artists, younger talents with newer ideas.”

There will be performances too, and parties. “I like parties!” he said.

Business is good, Salazar admits, and not just in La Jolla. He currently represents about 50 artists, acts as a consultant to art-lovers here and abroad, and sells pieces from his private collection. ”I make buying easy,” he said.

And he’s just made a deal with the Kimpton hotel chain to open small galleries in their boutique hotels, like the Hotel La Jolla.

What’s the secret to his recent meteoric success? “I take risks, I follow my gut, I seek out talented emerging artists and I connect with other people who share the same passion for art,” he said.

Local artist Marc Jesinoski said, “I really respect what he’s doing. He’s willing to think outside the box, he does his homework, and he’s bringing more art into the community.”

Everyone is invited to the opening, which will include food, wine, a live band, lots of artists, and of course, art. All you have to do is RSVP. If you’re not sure where the gallery is exactly, listen for the music. And the buzz that Salazar is such a whiz at creating.