The art of Carlos Castrejón is a fundamental sight in El Cajon, without many even knowing it. You can see his murals, many of which he worked on with his brother in Artist Alley in downtown El Cajon and his work seen at many local art shows throughout San Diego County, whether it is an exhibition of traditional, plein air or contemporary art. His style is unique and unmistakably his own with his bold colors and brush strokes, and contemporary art is his passion.
The art of Carlos Castrejón is a fundamental sight in El Cajon, without many even knowing it. You can see his murals, many of which he worked on with his brother in Artist Alley in downtown El Cajon and his work seen at many local art shows throughout San Diego County, whether it is an exhibition of traditional, plein air or contemporary art. His style is unique and unmistakably his own with his bold colors and brush strokes, and contemporary art is his passion. Working out of his personal studio in an upstairs loft in El Cajon, it has been several years since he had a permanent space to call home. This studio was fine for him as a living space until he married, and since has passed through from brother to sister in his large family of seven. During this time he began his Nomad Project.
“I’m a nomad. I don’t have a place so I’ve gone and knocked on doors,” he said. “I went to the Liberty Station and they wanted me to sign a lease. I couldn’t do that. I didn’t have the money. I could only rent by the month. They agreed, and I put a project together, was there for a month, and took it down. I went to North Park, back to Liberty Station and did a few shows. So the life of the Nomad Project artist has taken him on a journey of exhibitions wherever he could find the space to display his art.
Recent events changed Castrejón’s nomadic art shows with a space opening up on East Main Street in El Cajon. He said that when he first saw the space, he knew it was meant to be his and jumped on the opportunity. Completely renovating the space, which was a tax office for several years, he ripped out most of the vinyl flooring, stripping it down to the original wood. He is determined to make this work and has many ideas in utilizing this space to promote the arts of all types and artists. And so now, Studio C Gallery is up and operational and Castrejón is placing all of his efforts in this new vision with a new home. And so far, his hard work has paid off. When you walk into Studio C Gallery, his creation of the space is exceptional for displaying artwork of any genre, and with a few changes for each exhibition the diversity of his visions can easily become reality.
“I put in the effort to make it seem somewhat cozy, intimate and elegant,” he said. “So any paintings, sculptures will have a place because it has a cool and a warm side to it now. They balance each other and communicate between each other. And after all the time and money, this is exactly how I envisioned it. I want to be able to open it to other artists, something less traditional and more contemporary.”
With his doors opening in December 2016, his first exhibition embodied the art of Tijuana artist Luis Alderete, Spring Valley contemporary/traditional artists Laura Lehman and his own works. Each piece different in nature, yet all of the pieces displayed had a central focus of human hands. With the rich bold colors on the wooden floor side and the lighter shades in the cool zone of the studio, this space is a perfect conductor for showing contemporary art and with three different artists, the display is in unison and balance. His vision for a contemporary gallery in El Cajon is now a reality and the nomad artist now has a place to call home once again.
“To me, having access to a place like this is a bonus,” he said. “I want it to be a cultural conversation. Not everyone might like it, but that is always the case. But it does bring conversation and communication of various types of art and artists. With my selection of artists, I want to bring the art of other cultures and genres here.”
Castrejón said being back in El Cajon is where he wants to be and many of his artists’ partners from his Nomad Project are very interested in his new endeavor and eager to see what he does with it. He has many ideas as he moves forward, and his current exhibition is coming down no later than Jan. 15. He understands and does not even want to think about what money this new gallery can bring in, he knows that will come in time. But what he does want is a space that caters to many sorts of artists from beginners to renowned artists.
“My idea is not only to have art shows, but it will also be a working gallery,” he said. “I can bring in a model in and have artist can draw. I will have drawing sessions, classes, so I can teach in here or I can teach upstairs, depending on what it is and how large the project is.”
He also wants to open it up to the public so businesses can use the place in a nice little gallery for various reasons. He believes good art can inspire not only the artists, and the purveyors of art, but also people with other businesses, providing a warm venue for special events, business meetings and believes that the possibilities for his new gallery are limitless.
“I want to have good shows, good people coming here, great artists displaying here because this is our voice and this is how we as artists communicate,” he said. “That is my priority. To me this is already a tremendous success. The transformation is wonderful and opens the possibility to make changes for every show or gathering. Now I’m thinking about what is next. It could be a vintage show where I work with a renowned artist, some of my collections, or a wide collection of fashion, music and art and bring them here into one spot.”
So the nomad artist is wandering no more and though his working hours at Studio C Gallery are only Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for now, you can often walk by and see him working in the studio and also contact him for special projects or to meet him at the gallery.
Studio C Gallery is located at 128 E. Main Street in El Cajon. Castrejón can be contacted and followed on Facebook at Castrejonstudioc Carlos (www.facebook.com/carlos.castrejonsolis) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Castrejón’s work, visit castrejonart.com.