Not many artists can sell enough work to successfully sustain a big gallery space in downtown San Diego. But Tim Cantor’s work is so technically proficient, and its surrealistic contents are so interesting and compelling, that he’s had a permanent home for his oil paintings at 527 Fourth Ave. for a little more than a decade now. A few years ago, he and his wife, Amy, even opened the doors to a second gallery in Sausalito, in Marin County.
Like most of Cantor’s work, “Beauty’s Privilege,” the piece on CityBeat’s cover this week, has a detailed emotional story behind it. His imaginative, surrealistic imagery is never done off-the-cuff; instead, the introverted, soft-spoken artist lets his emotions and thoughts drive the content of his pieces.
“Beauty’s Privilege” came to him after his aunt, who was also an artist, died. He pulled out an old canvas she had given him and went to work.
“I was just kind of depressed about how she left the world,” Cantor said. “So, that painting evolved from those emotions—kind of like beauty coming out of tragedy.”
Cantor writes a poem for each of his paintings. In the poem that accompanies “Beauty’s Privilege,” he indicates there was something he said to his aunt before she died that he now deeply regrets. But rather than wallow in despair, he uses the incident to learn a lesson.
In the poem, he writes, These despairs have ushered into sight / An appreciation for life / Opening my eyes / To a better existence that savors every day / And a life that has no time for angry words / And wasted rage.
Cantor was introduced to art at an early age. At 5, his father gave him an old antique wooden box filled with his great-grandfather’s painting supplies. By 15, he was offered his first big-time gallery show, and he’s been a sought-after oil painter ever since.
The artist and writer paints every night. He goes into his studio at about midnight and typically paints until 7 or 8 a.m. Currently, Cantor is working on his second book and painting a new collection of work to correlate with a big book release and opening next spring.
“This next show will probably be my best show of all time,” Cantor says. “I’m really excited for this one.”