A longtime gallery that has had six locations over the last decade, including three in San Diego, is now shifting all of its focus on Solana Beach.
Exclusive Collections Gallery (EC Gallery) recently opened at 212 South Cedros Avenue, following a relocation from Seaport Village.
The gallery, which originally opened in 1995 in Carlsbad, has had multiple locations — from Beverly Hills to Las Vegas to Colorado — open at the same time over the last 10 years. However, Ruth-Ann Thorn, founder and owner, felt she was missing the one-on-one interactions with customers due to managing various centers.
She made the decision to bring her business back to North County and found Solana Beach to be a perfect fit. The gallery held a grand opening Nov. 11.
Thorn recently discussed her excitement for the move and her goals for the gallery.
This Q&A has been shortened for length.
Q: What is the history of the gallery?
A: I started the business a while ago in North County. Initially, I was in Carlsbad and then in 1998 I moved to La Jolla. From there, it just kind of got a life of its own. I ended up opening a gallery at Fashion Valley for 12 years and then I opened another one in the Gaslamp. I opened a third one at Seaport Village. They were all being operated at the same time for about eight years. But then various things happened. ... Eventually, when it was all said and done, I had the one gallery at Seaport Village. They're doing a major renovation there, and I decided we should go back to our roots, which is North County.
Q: What made you choose to move to Solana Beach in particular?
A: Cedros is just really nice because it is a design district, so you do have people who go there to look for things for their homes. It's also becoming kind of a social spot. The Belly Up has been there for years, but there are a lot of craft breweries opening up and wineries and restaurants. I thought that was probably the perfect home for us.
Q: Why is San Diego and Solana Beach, particularly, in need of a gallery like this?
A: In Solana Beach, there are a lot of galleries that are single-artist focused, meaning it's just one artist in the gallery and usually that artist works there. But there are very few galleries that are representing multiple artists that are internationally known. We're not necessarily representing artists that are living here locally, although there are a few. We're primarily representing artists that are known from all over. ... By bringing in different artists, it exposes people to different styles of art. They get a different vision of the world through art.
Q: What are your goals with the gallery and the relocation?
A: My main goal is to really create more of a one-on-one approach. When you have multiple galleries, you tend to be more focused as a business. Now, I can focus more with personal relationships with people and helping them build a collection for themselves. It gives us all an opportunity to just be more personal in the approach. ... The people that are coming in aren't quite as touristy, so we can deal mostly with locals, which is nice. When you have a business that's set up and geared to locals, they become part of your family. Tourists, they come and they go. You may never even see them again. What's nice about a locals gallery is that you can see them throughout the year and develop those relationships with them.
Q: What kinds of shows do you plan on featuring at the gallery?
A: I'm Native American, so we'll have Native American artists from different genres. ... I'll also have an artist who paints cityscapes in January for a show called “Winter Wonderland.” He'll be bringing in paintings that feature cities covered with snow from all over the United States to bring us a little winter season since we don't have any in San Diego. In February, we do a show called Hearts and Flowers. It features my mom and my 11-year-old daughter. ... There are different artists, genres and causes. I have an artist who is very much involved with sponsoring African wildlife, so he will be bringing in his pop-surrealism of African animals, which are super cool. He supports several different causes with his work. A lot of our artists, not only do they paint very well and people collect their work, but they're also very passionate about various causes that affect the planet, which I'm very much about.
Q: Your tagline is the “Art of Discovery.” How did you come up with that?
A: I think it's important for people who are interested in art to not be afraid to come and explore and not feel like it necessarily means they have to buy something right away. We call it the “Art of Discovery” for two reasons. We're out there discovering artists. We look for artists that maybe other people wouldn't look for. We're constantly looking for art that's a little bit out of the box. We're also wanting people who are curious to come and discover what it is that they like about art without really having anyone tell them they should like it for whatever reason. Art is like music. You have eyes, you can look at it. You have ears, you can hear it. It should really be up to your own senses to decide what's good. We invite people to just come discover it and not be intimidated.
For more information, visit ecgallery.com.