Q&A with Lynn Susholtz
1) Tell us a little about Art Produce and your goal behind the business.
20 years ago I transformed the boarded up grocery store, North Park Produce, into what is now the Art Produce building. The gallery has always been the heart of the building. It’s designed to be entirely visible from the sidewalk on University. It was the first gallery space in North Park and was intended to be a way to bring art and cultural activities to the neighborhood, be part of the community experience, free to the public and anyone walking by. It also was intended to help revitalize a neighborhood that was experiencing social and economic difficulties, making the streets safer and interesting for folks walking to the bus stop or families going to school. I wanted to allow for a place where everyone is welcome, filled with culturally rich activities that reflect the culturally rich neighborhood of North Park.
2) What are some of your favorite things about North Park and the community?
Art Produce has since become a cultural center, a place where the community can come and get something to eat, pick strawberries and kumquats from the garden in back, experience and make art, and be engaged with professional artists, community members and families. The gallery changes up all the time so you might be walking by and be in the middle of a dance performance, or a film screening, or a poetry reading, or see someone painting a 3-D mural, or weaving a room-sized sculpture made from discarded t-shirts. The public is always invited in and always able to engage with the artists and the artwork.
3) Is there anything about San Diego and/or North Park that inspires your art?
North Park is a great place to be because we have an interested and active group of people who participate in guiding its development. When I moved to North Park in 1990 I got involved in local committees and planning groups and learned about community engagement from my activist neighbors and local elected officials. I worked with other artists and designers, historians, educators, and planners who were actively involved in rebuilding and engaging the public spaces and the social fabric of the community.
4) Do you have anything coming up at Art Produce that you’re excited about?
I consider it everyone’s civic duty to be involved in their community and especially for artists to help consider alternative, creative solutions to neighborhood concerns. It is important to me to continue to provide opportunities, in particular cultural opportunities, for people of all backgrounds and ages, that are accessible and that reflect the social and cultural diversity of North Park. I’ve been extremely lucky to have the opportunity to combine my experience as a community activist, artist and cultural developer in my public art and educational work with Stone Paper Scissors and Art Produce.
Check out Art Produce and Stone Paper Scissors online and on Instagram at @artproduce.