- Photo by Kinsee Morlan
In 2010, Gustaf Rooth celebrated the opening of his new gallery and home in Bankers Hill. After a long, tumultuous love affair with North Park—where he helped found and grow the monthly Ray at Night art walk—he abandoned his longtime space on Ray Street. Rooth blamed gentrification and his landlord, who raised his rent, for the unwanted and unexpected move.
Planet Rooth Design Haus (3334 Fifth Ave.) opened with a series of big events but has since gone quiet as Rooth focused more on his own furniture and painting endeavors (his line of wine- and bourbon-barrel chairs under the moniker Barrelly Made It has become pretty popular). Rooth's also joined the growing Baja California wine and food movement, hosting private tastings during the past few years. But the old home will again function as an art gallery when Sweet Spot, an exhibition featuring works by Emily E. Halpern and Andrea Chung, opens from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24.
"It's exciting to get back into the scene," Rooth says. "I had no idea it would take me four years to get back on my feet in this house after leaving Ray Street. That was a bad breakup... But now I'm finally over it and really excited about the future."
Rooth will continue to focus on his personal pursuits and has turned the art-gallery reins over to Dia Bassett, an artist and independent curator.
"I'm interested in doing new and different things," says Bassett, a sculptor who earned a master's degree at San Diego State University and spent a few years after graduate school in the education program at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
Bassett says the space will host new shows every six weeks, on average, and her focus will be on local and national artists who investigate sociopolitical questions. She's open to every medium, including site-specific installations and more experimental work.
"I'm looking forward to showing a good variety of artists," Bassett says, "artists whose work isn't being shown in San Diego."