In the 1970s, SMSC expanded its curriculum to offer its first art classes. With these first classes, an untapped wealth of talent was revealed. Many students who had not been able to express themselves through traditional means were sharing their once hidden feelings through vibrant, original works of art on canvas, wood, glass and other media. The program became so popular that it outgrew the available space. In 1999, with generous community support, the art program moved to a storefront in Downtown El Cajon and was named Sophie’s Gallery and Gift Shop. In 2007, we expanded the original storefront space to 4,400 square feet that allowed us to serve more students and add more classes. Every week, our students are taught a variety of media, such as print-making, jewelry-making, painting, charcoal, pastels, fabric arts, and more. All of the classes at Sophie’s Gallery are taught by professional artists – our art program was the first in our region to offer this enhanced benefit.
In 2007, we opened a satellite gallery and gift shop, called Sophie's Too, in our new Education Center on our main campus. And, at the end of 2009, we opened a third venue located at the NTC Promenade/Liberty Station where our students show their work alongside artists from the general community. This third site is proving to be an effective way to raise public awareness about our programs and engage the support and interest of artists from the general community.
Our Sophie's Gallery location in Downtown El Cajon has an annual exhibition season that is launched with opening night receptions that often draw 200+ people. At the Sophie's Gallery location on NTC Promenade, we also hold monthly exhibition openings for local artists who show their work alongside our students' work.
In 2010 Sophie's Gallery El Cajon was voted San Diego's Best Gallery (to buy) through the San Diego Union-Tribune and signonsandiego.com.
Exhibitions: Along with our annual exhibition season at Sophie's Gallery in Downtown El Cajon and NTC Promenade, our students also show their work at venues regionally, nationally, and internationally. Our artists have exhibited their work at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; showed and sold jewelry, prints and painted scarves at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Gift Shop in Washington, D.C; and are participating in an exhibition entitled "Neurodiversity" at The Museum of Modern Art of Ukraine. These venues are in addition to more than a dozen shows they have each year, including Bread & Cie in Hillcrest; UCSD; Sho Sho Me Gallery (Borrego Springs); and Princeton University Medical Center (New Jersey), to name just a few.
To view the work of our Sophie's Gallery artists, please visit the El Cajon gallery Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; or the NTC gallery, Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays, noon to 4 p.m. Both locations host several art receptions throughout the year highlighting the work of its artists. If you would like to receive our email newsletter updates, click here.
Click to see Sophie's Gallery as featured on the San Diego Union Tribune's website.
2011 Schedule of Art Classes & Events
For more information on upcoming Events, click on the Events link above.