DEL MAR — In an effort to promote contemporary art in the county, Del Mar resident Ann Berchtold launched Art San Diego in 2009 with 27 exhibitors that attracted a few thousand attendees.
This year’s event, now under way at Balboa Park, features 63 booths, nine art labs and, for the first time, solo exhibits. It is expected to draw about 10,000 spectators.
“This is becoming a fantastic showcase for the San Diego art scene,” Berchtold said. “It keeps growing.”
Originally from Michigan, Berchtold came to Southern California to attend San Diego State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing, with a minor in fine arts.
She worked in event production for about 10 years, first at Rancho Valencia Resort, then at a Ritz-Carlton in Northern California.
“San Francisco has such a rich cultural scene,” she said. “I wanted to promote that here because artists didn’t have a lot of faith in San Diego. There weren’t a lot of galleries for showcasing. We were losing a lot of great talent to Los Angeles and New York.”
Berchtold, who comes from a family of artists, started SanDiegoArtist.com, a website for emerging artists.
That led to working in art galleries and eventually becoming the director of the L Street Gallery near the Omni Hotel downtown.
“Then I started visiting art fairs,” Berchtold said. “The biggest one is Art Basel in Miami Beach. I wanted to do something similar here.”
Art San Diego began at the Grand Del Mar four years ago. It moved to the Hilton San Diego Bayfront but outgrew that venue after two years.
“I hope we’ll stay here at Balboa Park,” Berchtold said, noting that attendance could increase to 12,000 because the event is not being held on Labor Day weekend for the first time.
The contemporary art fair will feature national and international galleries from places such as New Mexico, Colorado, Georgia, Mexico and Argentina showing works from more than 500 artists.
Several Los Angeles and San Diego galleries will also be featured.
North County artists include Solana Beach’s Susan Street, Steve and Yvonne Maloney of Rancho Santa Fe and Gerrit Greve from Cardiff.
From Del Mar, where Berchtold lives with her husband and two children, exhibitors include Beyond the Border, Bunnye Meisel and Andrew Lutz.
The three-day event will include art, furniture, performances, video-based works, artistic interventions in public art labs and Made in San Diego exhibitions.
Participants can meet the artists and purchase any piece that is shown.
Exhibits are open Sept. 7 to Sept. 9. A three-day pass is $15 online and $20 at the door.
Art San Diego also helps kick off Arts Month San Diego, which will include Discover North County from Sept. 23 to Sept. 30
“I encourage everyone to come down for a staycation,” Berchtold said. “There’s something for everyone in your own backyard.”
For more information, Google Art San Diego 2012 or Arts Month San Diego.