New work by Thomas DeMello

Thomas DeMello 2014

This is a piece that so perfectly personifies Thomas’ aesthetic. Rough, dirty, rustic. He’s got a great eye for materials or objects that most people would see as garbage, or at the very least wouldn’t look twice at. Old thread-worn packing blankets for example:

Thomas DeMello, Texture Fields, 2010

Or perhaps a bunch of rotting railroad ties:

railroad ties - Thomas DeMello

And now it’s these:

wattles in a row

Thomas DeMello 2014

You’ve probably seen these everywhere and not even noticed. As I said, In my opinion that’s Thomas’ main strength as an artist. His natural instinct to see the aesthetic value in objects and materials that are ignored by most.


“Ive been looking into tumble weeds.” – Thomas DeMello


Thomas DeMello 2014


Thomas DeMello 2014

Thomas DeMello 2014

See more installation photos HERE.





ICE inside Bread & Salt


Ya know, just when it seems as though no one’s paying attention to you, along comes an opportunity out of the blue.  Two months ago none of us knew anything about Jim Brown and his architecture firm, Public, or his newly acquired huge project, Bread & Salt.  The latter being a 40,000 square foot building built in the early 20th century which was, until recently, a Weber bakery.  Jim had apparently been silently paying attention to ICE Gallery and, just when we were about to be evicted from our space in North Park, offered us a spot at Bread & Salt!  Wow, we’re so appreciative for the offer and the opportunity.  Our new space will be much smaller, but it has a lot of potential and we’re extremely excited to get to work on it.

bread & salt window

Not only were we offered a new space in a small corner of Bread & Salt, we were also given the opportunity to tackle the entire 40,000 sq ft building.  The building is more or less still in it’s raw Weber bakery state, minus most of the heavy machinery.  There’s a ton of work to do before the building is ready to be inhabited by it’s future art and design tenants.  Perfect!  That’s just the kind of space we hope for.  It’s the kind of thing we’ve been talking about for the last few years (“Wouldn’t it be great to be offered an interesting space where you’re able to create anything you want?”) and now we’ve been given a shot.

bread & salt oven

The four of us have staked out our individual spaces throughout the building and are in the process of installing what is shaping up to be a very solid and diverse exhibition.  We hope you’ll come join us and see it for yourself on Friday, February 8th, from 6-9.  This one is a big deal for us and we’re anxious to show you the work plus the unique building that we’ll soon be a part of.

Thanks Jim and Isabel!

PS – check out this nice write up for the show in San Diego CityBeat


If you’ve read our About page then you know that long before ICE was an exhibition space it was and still is a low cost art studio space.  For as long as we’ve been renting the space, and for other tenants before us, the roof has leaked.  In addition to the roof being in bad shape, the rest of the building in general has been no prize to look at or reside in.  Despite these flaws the leaky roof has been somewhat manageable…until this year.  When the first rains came this year we saw just how bad the roof had become.  It no longer leaks, it pours – and It’s become way too much for us to maintain.

In a last ditch effort to save our space, before we reluctantly abandon what has become a source of great enjoyment and pride for us, we decided to set up a fund raising project on the site  It’s similar to Kickstarter, but the difference is that in addition to being somewhat exclusive in that you have to be screened or invited by a fellow, is specifically for artists.  We were lucky enough to be invited to join the site by none other than Doug Wheeler, one of our favorite west coast artists.

Should we attain our fund raising goal, our project will entail professionally fixing the roof as well as totally gutting the inside of the building.  We wish to turn ICE into one big open exhibition space by knocking down all interior walls and getting rid of what is currently three art studios in the rear of the building.  This will double the amount of space we have to use for exhibitions to roughly 1200 sq. ft.!

We realize our fund raising goal is highly ambitious, but this is our last chance to keep ICE alive.  If we’re unable to fix our roof, we’ll have no further option but to vacate what has been a low cost haven for local San Diego artists for years.  If you would like to contribute to our survival please visit OUR PROJECT PAGE.  Your efforts will not go unrewarded.  We have different incentives for the various donation levels – everything from wood block prints by Lee to actual pages from Michael’s sketch book.

Thank you to all who have supported us,
Michael James Armstrong, Thomas DeMello, Lee Lavy, Joseph Huppert

Thomas has been in the lab

Thomas has been using the gallery as a studio since Michael’s show came down.  Click on the image below to see more shots of a “sketch” Thomas has been working on the past 2 weeks.  The shots were taken at approximately 8pm with natural light, which is how Thomas intended the piece to be viewed.


3 different faces of ICE

It’s interesting to see how the facade of ICE changed throughout each show.

Joseph Huppert (summer):

Thomas DeMello (fall):

Michael Armstrong (winter):

Regrettably we don’t have a photo of the facade from Lee Lavy’s show.  At least not one that we can locate at the moment.  Did you see any of these shows?  What did you think?