Exclusive Interview: Aimee Baca of Creative Crossroads
QueerGirl got a chance to speak with Creative Crossroads owner, Aimee Baca to discuss the inspiration behind the local 'diverse marketplace' where the San Diego artistic community is brought together. Aimee touches upon her early beginnings in the street-art world, what it's like to be in the heart of the LGBTQIA+ community, and 'Meet-the-artists' Night happening in late September at Creative Crossroads.
QueerGirl: What is your role in Creative Crossroads? (owner? manager? etc)
Aimee Baca: Owner, Artist. Ringleader of Creative Operations.
QG: Tell us about Creative Crossroads and how it was started.
AB: Since the age of 17, I was a street artist. I started selling my art on the street in downtown San Diego and later moved to downtown Santa Cruz. I would strap my art to the back of my bike, pedal to the strip and set up pop-up shops along the sidewalk. And occasionally, I would have to run from the cops. I integrated with the local street artist community and it felt like family. I fell in love with the excitement that came from being welcomed, but rogue, in a culture that loved local art, but didn’t have a place for it.
After Graduating from UCSC with a focus on Fine Arts and the History of Art and Visual Culture, I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything other than what I loved - connecting with people through art! I returned to San Diego with the intention of opening a small shop to sell my art. I imaged my shop to be called Creative Crossroads - an intersection of unique and talented people who are connected under the umbrella of everything creative. After collecting a group of seven artists, we opened shop in the heart of fabulous Hillcrest. The collective grew, and now (two years later) Creative Crossroads is home to about 50 local artists from San Diego!
Creative Crossroads is a diverse marketplace, bringing the artistic community and handmade culture to life in Hillcrest! I strive to be a resource for local artists - the kind that I wish I could have experienced when I was 17. I feel privileged to see my own art move from the sidewalk, to the walls of a gallery. It is enriching to be surrounded by so many talented artisans from San Diego! And the best part is - no more running from the cops!
QG: How do you choose and find the artists thats sell their art at your store?
AB: I find artists, and they find me. Many of our artists stumbled on the storefront after their taco Tuesday lunch, or 'Sunday-funday' excursions. Others I have connected with strolling through farmers markets and festivals!
QG: What is it like being a local business in the heart of the LGBTQIA+ community in San Diego?
AB: It’s a glitterbomb of glory. I grew up in the Paradise Hills area of San Diego. As a kid, I would take the bus to Hillcrest to gawk at all the interesting shops and restaurants. I was obsessed with Hillcrest - even before I knew I was gay! I always dreamed of living in this community, and never did I fathom I would be a business owner here!
As a business owner who identifies with the LGBT community, our customers and artists feel a sense of freedom in their expression. We are a safe space that embraces the fierce, fabulous, and freewheeling. We are home to the San Diego LGBT Visitors Center - founded by Eddie Reynoso. It is a resource to the LGBT community and our allies to discover, stay, play, dine and shop at LGBT safe, friendly and welcoming San Diego destinations.
QG: What is the most unique aspect about Creative Crossroads?
AB: The most unique part of Creative Crossroads is the diversity of artisans gathered under one roof. We don’t just have paintings and sculptures, we have soaps, ceramics, lamps, and even sunglasses and more! The eclectic range of creative goodies will stretch your definition of what you understand as “art.”
QG: What is your favorite thing about Creative Crossroads?
AB: I am constantly inspired of the ideas, ingenuity, and initiative my artists exhibit on a daily basis - and that is my favorite thing! Also, I get to pet all the dogs that come into my store.
QG: Can you tell us about any upcoming events, or new artists that will be affiliated with Creative Crossroads?
AB: We are always changing, incorporating new and unique art. With new artists featuring their work every month, this store never stands still.
We will be hosting a Meet-the-Artists Night on Friday, September 22nd from 6pm to 10pm! We will also be celebrating our 2 year anniversary that evening! This event is open to the public. And, as always, free booze all night long! So save the date, and bring your date!
QG: What’s next for Creative Crossroads?
AB: We will be opening a coffee shop in the store! Creativity happens with coffee!
Creative Crossroads is located on the corner of 5th and University ave in the heart of Hillcrest, in San Diego, CA.
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