Business Center of La Mesa perfect setting for On the Edge Art Gallery

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Artists usually find that the most challenging aspect of their work is marketing. Trying to mix art with business is like mixing colors that don’t work together. But a wonderful set-up in La Mesa, called the Business Center of La Mesa, headed up by Phil Mann, has made a match made in heaven for art and business.

Artists usually find that the most challenging aspect of their work is marketing. Trying to mix art with business is like mixing colors that don’t work together. But a wonderful set-up in La Mesa, called the Business Center of La Mesa, headed up by Phil Mann, has made a match made in heaven for art and business.

The center, located in a 70’s-era two-story-building called the Thunderbird on El Cajon Boulevard is home to On the Edge Gallery. Every conference room, office and even the hallways are filled with paintings and drawings, collages and mixed media, sculpture and photography of local artists. Currently, the works of 15 different artists deck the rooms and halls.

Midge Hyde, who is one of the 21 full-time clients using the business center, is curator of the gallery. 

“She has the space at no cost so that she can survive as an artist.” Mann said. “And the art brings up the level of value to the tenants.”

A long-time artist of San Diego, Hyde walks from her home in La Mesa to the center, preparing for the next exhibit, such as the current “Valentine Hangover.”

“People often have funny, mixed feelings about Valentine’s Day,” Hyde said, smiling mischievously.

Hyde’s own mixed-media work—a triptych of mixed media in cheerful yellow and hearts with wings—reflects her own heart toward art. “I love color,” she said.

This year is Hyde’s fourth in curating the gallery. “I called it “On the Edge Gallery” because we are on the edge of La Mesa. And I like looking for artists who are on the cutting edge,” Hyde said.

Hyde has her own mischievous edge to her art and approach to life. I’m pretty optimistic about life, no matter what happens. My whole family is more conservative, and I’m a liberal tree-hugger,” she said, laughing.

Being around children helped bring color Hyde’s world with optimism. When her own children were small, Hyde was a teacher’s aide at a Chula Vista elementary school. 

“I’ve always enjoyed working with little kids. I’ve done art all my life, starting with writing little stories and drawing pictures for my mother. The desire to illustrate what I was thinking has never stopped,” she said.

In a lot of other ways, Hyde continues to be like a kid at heart. Her “other job,” as she calls it, is coaching soccer at after school programs. “I get to hang out with all the crazy kids,” she said.

Decades ago, Hyde joined up with Women’s Caucus for Art, a national women’s art organization. For years, she helped curate and hang the different shows for the organization. It gave her the background and knowledge she needed to become a successful artiste. 

“I thought it would be a fun challenge,” said Hyde, who also is the curator for La Mesa Library. “I still get excited when new artwork comes in. It’s fun to see the different direction that artists take.”

Looking at and listening to artists motivate Hyde to try new things. Right now, she is on a trend with more abstract mixed media. “I like using different materials on the canvas. And sometimes I don’t even use a regular canvas,” she said.

The biggest highlight of each new show at the gallery is the reception. 

“I’ve had people tell me that the receptions are more like ‘happenings.’ They really enjoy them. And we give out a People’s Choice Award on the evening of the reception. Whoever wins that will get a solo show in the gallery,” Hyde said.

On the Edge Gallery accepts submissions from new and emerging artists. Hyde does have some advice for them. 

“You need to care enough about the presentation. Make sure that the mats are clean. Still, there is no one rule. Everybody has different ways, different stories,” she said.

Born in San Diego, Hyde graduated from SDSU with a Fine Arts and Liberal Arts degree. Later, she studied at the University of Hamburg in Germany and Chelsea College in London. Over the years she has developed a following of art collectors in Hamburg, Montreal, Kuwait, Los Angeles, New York and San Diego. 

All are invited to the reception on February 21 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. for the “Valentine Hangover” exhibit at On the Edge Gallery, located at 7317 El Cajon Blvd, Suite #103. Call 619-466-3711. 

For more information on the Business Center of La Mesa where the gallery is located, call Phil Mann at 619-713-2560.

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