The Front Art Gallery in San Ysidro is the finest location to visit and experience the border arts & culture scene. It is THE place to be in the South Bay. A stone’s throw from the San Ysidro Port of Entry, the busiest POE in the world, The Front has a unique and significant history.
Louis Gill designed this building in 1927. The architect was famously known as Irving Gill’s nephew, but he was also gifted in his own right. Born in New York in 1895, he graduated from the Architectural University of Syracuse in 1911. Between the years 1911-1914 he worked as a draftsman and later (1914-1919) as a partner with his uncle, Irving Gill. Between 1920 to the late 1930s, Louis drew plans for numerous churches, hospitals, commercial buildings, apartments and parking garages in the San Diego area. In particular, Louis designed the Congregational Church on Hall Avenue in 1924 for the San Ysidro community.
Louis had extensive knowledge of traditional Mexican architecture and created this structure in the Spanish Eclectic style. The edifice was planned to be an apartment building and a store for Mr. R.W. Smith
A Brief History
Located along San Ysidro Boulevard, this strip used to be famous for the celebrities that drove by on their way into “Vice City” or Tijuana. For many years it was the San Ysidro Commercial Company owned by Dave Horowitz, then Sam Bennett and Joe Kagen. By the late 1940’s it was owned by Josie Velazquez. The store sold everything from nuts & bolts to clothes, groceries and a full meat market. The San Ysidro Commerical Company also cashed people’s checks on their way home from work at Rohrs. The store employed many local residents and had the jingle: “If we don’t have it, you don’t want it.”
The building was eventually bought by the non-profit organization, Casa Familiar, who created the space in its current form as an art gallery.
The Front has no permanent collection, unless you find their mural in the back, painted by Isaias Crow. They do, however, have exciting roaming exhibits. As a matter of fact, I have dedicated an entire section to The Front exhibits. Check out the visual pleasure of past exhibits and talks:
The Cielo, Mar, y Tierra Exhibit featured photographs from local San Ysidrans as well as Mexican art boxes created in a workshop with renown artists, Oscar Hernandez Ceron.
The Front hosted Voice of San Diego’s Alex Zaragoza who presented a host of speakers that talked about the dynamic culture blossoming in Tijuana.
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Address: 268 W Park Ave, San Ysidro, CA 92173