Pop-up gallery hosted by art students

On a discreet corner beside a bridge in Golden Hill, San Diego, over one hundred students, friends, and faculty gathered for a unique art gallery experience.

This was not just any art show. This was the Art Scream Social, a one night only pop-up art gallery organized and hosted by art students from PLNU.

There was a flurry of guests shuffling on straw between rows of paintings hung from the ceiling, all chatted vivaciously, as ribbons of steam rose from their hot coffee cups. The DJs outside sent good vibes pulsing through the open-air space while patrons took turns on a rope swing, reminding us of the child-like enthusiasm that went into this project.

The idea was conceived by Joe Sloan and Heidi Boening, both juniors studying graphic design and sculpture and installation respectively at PLNU.

“I saw a lot of students who were art majors, but didn’t become career artists, so I wanted to get a couple graduates and students together for a show,” said Sloan about his last art event held last summer. “As art students, it is our duty to create and share art.”

This is not the first show that Sloan has organized. Another show was held last summer and gathered a smaller audience, but it seems the interest in the pop-up gallery is growing.

“I really admire the initiative it takes to create something like this,” said Eugene Harris, an art professor at PLNU. “The whole show is an installation piece. They are utilizing the space by using the elements already present in the room. There is no reason you can’t have a spontaneous art show anywhere. This is not the norm and that is what makes it so fresh.”

The event was a group effort. Sloan and three other students had talked about opening a show for several months and it took three months to organize. Students Elizabeth Burke and Taylor Roy booked the catering services and Heidi Boening found the DJs La Grancha x La Tigresa.

“Some of it has been difficult, and some of it has been shockingly easy,” Sloan said when thinking about what it took to plan the event. “I started looking for venues and I found ‘You Are Here’ created by the architect Mike Burnett to merge residential and commercial living.He told me, ‘This is the type of opportunity I wish someone would have given me in college’, and he gave it to me for free.”

Students and alumni Taylor Roy, Jacob Rivera, Lucas Riley, Joe Sloan, Liz Burke, Jeff Allen, Mariah Dietzler, Hannah Siu, and Heidi Boening all featured their art in the gallery. The pieces included photography, installation, graphic design, film and painting.

Junior Heidi Boening’s installation revolved around a desert theme, complete with vintage relics, a tiny cactus and an array of old playing cards with pictures of desert terrain arranged in a séance circle. Guests interacted with the piece through a homemade synthesizer.

“I want people to feel the alienation of the desert,” Boening said about her work. “Joshua tree is my home and I wanted to bring it to an urban space.”

Jeff Allen, a recent graduate of PLNU, also featured his installation. Called “Tina,” it featured two identical four legged wooden constructions leaned against a bale of hay on a ground of straw. To many it resembled two horses mating. Allen has recently been accepted into the Rhode Island School of Design for his previous work.

Guests appeared pleasantly surprised with the overall presentation at Art Scream Social.

“I wasn’t expecting much,” said Hannah Carignan, a sophomore. “I thought it would be very rushed, but it actually looks very professional and well put together. I wish it had been more cohesive, but I’ve enjoyed it.”

Artists and organizers of the event were pleased as well.

“This went beyond my expectations,” Sloan said. “I am thrilled with the art, and I am thrilled with the turnout. I love seeing people passionate about art.”

Sloan and Boening plan on producing another art show next fall.