Solana Beach’s EC Gallery to open new space in the Gaslamp District

Ruth-Ann Thorn, owner of Exclusive Collections Gallery.
(Laura Bravo Mertz)

Solana Beach’s Exclusive Collections Gallery (EC Gallery) is making the move from the Cedros Design District to downtown’s Gaslamp District—Gallerist Ruth-Ann Thorn is set to open her new location on Fifth Street on May 5.

Thorn has owned EC Gallery for 28 years in San Diego in multiple locations. She originally opened the gallery in Carlsbad in 1995, then opened galleries in La Jolla, Fashion Valley, the Gaslamp and Seaport Village before moving up to Solana Beach in 2018. EC Gallery was founded on the premise that the “Art of Discovery” is for everyone.

“I always wanted to have a gallery on Cedros so it was a dream,” she said. “I think Cedros is one of the gems of San Diego.”

Going back downtown is a little like coming full circle but it will be hard to leave beautiful Solana Beach and its loyal locals behind—she plans to remain in Solana Beach through October and then see what happens; she still may pursue another North County location.

With the new gallery, she is taking over a historic building at the corner of Fifth and Market, the original home for both Z Gallerie and Lucky Brand. EC Gallery will showcase a stable of over 25 nationally and internationally known artists with individual and group shows throughout the year.

Thorn expects the downtown gallery will likely see more tourists than the Cedros location and while North County collectors were a little more traditional in their tastes, she said with the new gallery she will have the opportunity to feature some more contemporary works.

The new Exclusive Collections Gallery in the Gaslamp.
(Jens Feil)

Thorn, a member of the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians who lives on the Ricon reservation in Valley Center, is also a passionate advocate for Native American artists.

Around the country she works as a cultural liaison for Native American tribes, making sure tribes are appropriately represented in artwork, design and architecture. She is also a filmmaker—her docuseries on the First Nations Experience (FNX) network spotlights Native American artists from all over America.

Every year, she does a big show at EC Collective solely focused on Native American art.
“I’m hoping to see more representation of native people and local tribes in San Diego,” said Thorn.

Being back downtown, Thorn is excited to be a part of exciting things happening in the Gaslamp, including the Gaslamp Promenade, a mission to reinvent Fifth Avenue and make it more pedestrian friendly. Plans are for Fifth Avenue to be closed to all car traffic every day from 11 a.m. to around midnight, from K Street up to Broadway. The new EC Gallery will be at the heart of it.

For now, she is just looking forward to getting the doors open in her new space, planning to host a grand opening celebration possibly in August.

The new gallery is located at 621 5th Avenue. Visit

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