Part art gallery, part bookstore, Subtext Gallery in downtown San Diego has made quite an impact on the local art scene in its young six-year run. Located between historic music venue, The Casbah, and the lively Little Italy neighborhood, Subtext has emerged as one of many galleries in San Diego’s contemporary art scene that pushes the envelope. The gallery features contemporary art from all over the world, many of it surfacing from street art and design culture.
Subtext chose to end the year on a positive note by closing with a month-long exhibit, “Shapes and Smiles” with work by Jolby, a collaborative design team. This is the second time that Subtext has showcased Jolby, whose work seamlessly fits in the gallery’s playful space. Jolby is made up of artist-designers Josh Kenyon and Colby Nichols, who began collaborating in 2005 after meeting at the Art Institute in San Diego. Since then, they’ve moved to Portland to expand their collaborative design group.
It’s difficult to categorize their work into one medium, since it rather draws on so many outside influences. The title of the show is suggestive of the tone of their work in its fantastical and playful nature. Bright colors, characters, and various creatures fill their screen prints, drawings and paintings. While some works carry dream-like qualities, others seem rooted deeply in reality. It’s no surprise then, that they have provided illustrations for many a children’s book. The whimsical creatures and characters of their work recall nostalgic childhood memories that just about anyone can connect with. If nothing else, Jolby’s “Shapes and Smiles” may prompt a slight grin upon your face, with a warm fuzzy feeling to keep you warm through these chilly December nights. Sometimes art can be as simple as that.
“Shapes and Smiles” is on view at Subtext Gallery in downtown San Diego on Kettner Boulevard between Kalmia Street and Laurel Street through January 16, 2012.