San Diego’s Art “Seen”

Five essential artists to discover today

By Jill Marr

San Diego’s art culture continues to grow and expand, led by talented artists from around the world working in a variety of media. Many local galleries will be showcasing gifted artists this spring, and each offers something surprising, unique and completely eye-opening.


Lee Sie
Photographer Lee Sie’s work is currently featured at MK Envision Galleries in historic Liberty Station. Sie uses digital photography to help express his artistic vision of the natural world. He is happiest in his element: shooting alone and outdoors, taking in the sky, the surroundings and all the colors and forms. His works transcend simple representation and become works of art that he hopes people will find moving, inspiring and noteworthy.

Lee Sie was born in Utrecht, Netherlands, grew up in Northern California and now resides in San Diego. Each location had a vastly different look and feel and influenced his aesthetic in some ineffable way. Simple changes such as weather and seasons can transform a place in ways that the imagination cannot. Sie has always been fascinated by the variations provided by nature. According to the photographer himself, nature’s set and lighting designers are always at work and it’s his honor to work with them. The photographs currently featured at the MK Envision Galleries reflect his abundant respect and love of nature. Artist Reception: Friday, April 7, 5–9pm at MK Envision Galleries

MK Envision Galleries, Liberty Station, Historic Decatur Road #101, San Diego, 619.516.8186, mkenvision.com

Robert Deyber
Robert Deyber uses his paintbrush to tell stories, and his career has taken him all over the world. His paintings are collected by many in the entertainment industry, including independent film producers, well-known screenwriters and designers. Musician Tom Petty even commissioned Deyber to create imagery for his album, Highway Companion. Deyber is now exclusively represented by Martin Lawrence Galleries in La Jolla.

Born and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut, Deyber began drawing at an early age. Art was a means of escape as a child, and it took him away to the most remote places. Suddenly, the Gobi Desert and the moons of Jupiter were within reach of an imaginative young boy. With artistic roots that come from the Surrealist movement, many of Deyber’s paintings contain elements created out of the unpredictable imagery found in the subconscious; indeed, many of his paintings feature images derived from dreams. In the end, it is the undecided tone between sincerity and irony that makes Robert Deyber’s artwork distinctly contemporary. His visual vocabulary distinctly his own, he is admired by a worldwide audience. Artist Reception: Friday, May 26, 6–9pm at Martin Lawrence Galleries (on display now)


Martin Lawrence Galleries, 1111 Prospect Street, La Jolla, 858.551.1122, martinlawrence.com


Mackenzie Thorpe
Mackenzie Thorpe’s unique and distinctive work has been shown around the globe and will be featured at Legends Gallery in May. Thorpe is credited with changing the face of commercial art publishing in the U.K., breaking away from traditional imagery and depictions to produce a new, challenging and varied portfolio of work.

Thorpe’s journey is an inspiring one. As a child growing up in Northeast England, he suffered from severe dyslexia. School did not provide an environment for him to thrive; however, the industrial environment and images of his upbringing have always been a feature of—and an inspiration for—much of his work. His challenging and diverse depictions have fascinated art enthusiasts around the world: Thorpe was awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree in 2000 by Teesside University and received a second honorary Doctor of Arts degree in 2010. And in 2012, Thorpe was commissioned to produce a piece for HRH Queen Elizabeth II for the 2012 Diamond Jubilee, which now stands as part of the royal collection. Artist Reception: Saturday, May 6, 6–9pm at Legends Gallery

Legends Gallery, 1205 Prospect Street, Suite B, La Jolla, 858.456.9900, legendsgallerylajolla.com


Ian Ely
Ian Ely, having established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the world of professional landscape photography, now finds his name and his many varied works mentioned among the world’s best-known and highest-regarded lensmen.

Ian’s inspiration stems from the breathtaking natural beauty he experienced as a child in Colorado on multiple mountain excursions aboard a back-country steam engine. These experiences pushed him to pursue unbounded dreams of sharing captured, spectacular “moments in time and space” with others. He is constantly studying, researching and refining his methods in all aspects of his art in order to invite and guide his audience to experience the visual wonders of earth. Ian sincerely hopes that these journeys will be long remembered as the beginning of a true adventure. Artist Unveiling: Saturday, April 15, 6–10pm at Ian Ely Gallery


Ian Ely Gallery, 1141 Prospect Street, La Jolla, 858.291.8084, ianely.com


Norman Muller
Morten Gallery caters to both the adventurous art lover and elite collector and is the forum for the work of artist Norman Muller. Norman’s passion for creating art developed at the age of 15 and no doubt stemmed from his great-grandfather Morton Muller—an influential Norwegian landscape painter to the Swedish Royal Court of 1875—and his father Jaime Muller, who was a renowned architect in Mexico City.

Born 1962 in Mexico City to parents of German and American descent, Muller was fortunate enough to produce in a space that enticed the senses on a level that was creatively empowering. Assisting his father, Norman learned the analytics of form. Various buildings standing in Mexico City today are the same ones he helped design decades earlier. Through years of training and under the influence of Harry Moody and Gerhard Richter, Muller’s paintings have evolved.

With a signature layer of primary colors, Muller builds up his canvas layer by layer using a mixture of tools such as pallet knives and squeegees. Using high-pigment acrylic paint on oversized canvases, he continues to manipulate textures and colors using pressure and brings you to what you see on the gallery floor today. Artist Reception: Saturday, April 8, 5–7pm at Morten Gallery.

Morten Gallery, 1264 Prospect Street, La Jolla, 858.203.3616, mortenartgallery.com

Pablo Picasso once said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” More than a pastime for a privileged few, art is an important part of the culture and the fabric of San Diego. This spring, take some time to get to know the artists and their work, featured at these wonderful galleries around town.