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Home / Articles / Arts / Seen Local /  Protea Gallery closes North Park storefront
. . . .
Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013

Protea Gallery closes North Park storefront

Doris Bittar says she’ll continue showing work by overlooked artists in other venues

By Kinsee Morlan
seen1 Protea Gallery drew crowds in North Park.
Since opening Protea Gallery in November 2012, artist and curator Doris Bittar has thoughtfully pieced together eight art exhibitions—plus poetry readings, book signings and music performances— in a small storefront space at 3780 30th St. in North Park. Each show has featured artists from myriad ethnic and cultural backgrounds in an attempt to introduce diverse work to San Diego.

The first was a group exhibition of Arab artists, and in the current show, Lebanese and Palestinian cultures are explored in an exhibition featuring artists Helen Zughaib and Ibrahim Al Nashashibi, whose work is on view through Dec. 22.

“My gallery, I hope, counters stereotypes of people,” says Bittar, who also sells Proteas, or South African flowering plants, at the gallery space.

But the current show will be the last for the gallery, which will close its doors for good at the end of the month.

Bittar says she’s been barely breaking even during the past year and cites a recent hike in rent as one of the reasons for closing. Opportunities to curate shows in other venues is another reason she says she’s giving up the physical space, turning Protea Gallery into a curatorial project without walls and continuing to pursue her passion for mounting interesting and challenging exhibitions on topics she feels are too often overlooked.

Bittar says she and the rest of the local arts community have some work to do before projects like hers can be sustained.

“San Diego and its artists have to define themselves as a group,” she says. “They have to work collectively to establish their rights, get state funding and attract and grow collectors. That is the task at hand. Protea and I will continue that job. I don’t need to be in a storefront to do that.”


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