EC Gallery founder launches ‘Art of the City’ docuseries, livestreams

Ruth-Ann Thorn interviewed New Orleans artist Willie Birch for an episode of her docuseries "Art of the City."

For her new docuseries “Art of the City,” EC Gallery founder Ruth-Ann Thorn interviewed artists in San Diego, Santa Fe and New Orleans before the COVID-19 pandemic forced her to change course.

Instead of traveling with a camera crew to meet artists in their home cities, she began interviewing them on social media livestreams.

Thorn said the docuseries, which started as a passion project, is meant to pay homage to notable artists while they’re still living.

“Most of the time in the art world, nobody gets an interview, or an in-depth interview, until they’re dead,” she said.

After filming stopped, she began broadcasting three livestreams per week while all art galleries and other venues closed due to public health orders, and scaled back to one livestream per week after EC Gallery’s reopening. One of her recent guests was Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen, who has had a lifelong interest in art.

“I like live because it’s so spontaneous,” Thorn said. “You get things out of live that you never get when you’re going in and you’re filming.”

Another goal of the docuseries, Thorn added, is to give viewers an inside look into the lives of the artists behind the artwork and their life experiences that led to it.

“That all has to do with their life story,” she said.

Victor Ochoa, one of the San Diego-based artists Thorn interviewed, was an activist in the 1960s and 70s, speaking out against discrimination and racism against Mexicans in the United States. Many of the murals he’s painted are located in San Diego.

“That was one aspect, just getting a little bit more of an in-depth look through art of this very critical movement, which we’re dealing with today,” Thorn said. “Nothing’s changed.”

Jack Hubbell, another San Diego artist known for his buildings, artwork and public park projects, was featured on the docuseries. The episode discusses how the 2003 Cedar Fire, which damaged Hubbell’s home and studio in mountains near Julian, helped inspire the work he later produced.

“It just gives you a different look at the world through these artists’ work,” Thorn said.

Thorn started EC Gallery 25 years ago with her mother, who is an artist, in La Jolla 25 years ago. She and her mother liked the “community vibe” surrounding their Solana Beach gallery, which opened nearly two years ago.

“It kind of brings you back to what California used to be like,” Thorn said. “Just more beachy, more community, and now we both wanted to just enjoy the art scene more.”

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