5 Best San Diego Galleries in Downtown

Handpicked Galleries to Explore In San Diego

Photo by Aaron Chang

The art scene here in San Diego is a vast and growing field that can no longer be overlooked. Everyday it seems a new gallery is opening up their doors in the region, and we want to direct your attention to the top art galleries in the Downtown and Hillcrest areas. With award-winning artists and galleries, one of these locations is sure to peek your curiosity, if not all of them!

Aaron Chang Ocean Art Gallery

Displaying the beauty of the ocean and the sport of surfing, the Aaron Chang Ocean Art Gallery exemplifies the feeling of being in the water. Photographer and artist, Aaron Chang is a San Diego native who captures the beauty and breathtaking sights of the area as well as other destinations. Specifically focusing on the ocean, Chang seizes the opportunity of taking amazingly detailed photographs of the natural beauty of the ocean and the skill of surfers riding the waves.

The gallery itself is located in the ever-trendy Downtown San Diego, creating a modern slate for Chang’s eye-grabbing art to amaze visitors. The location itself is so ideal that visitors can book their own events within the gallery. You won’t want to miss the opportunity to explore the ocean through the eyes of Aaron Chang as you walk through his Downtown location. Learn more about the photographer/owner and get a glimpse of the art at Aaron Chang.

Chuck Jones Gallery
Art by Chuck Jones

Chuck Jones Gallery

If you’re a fan of animated films (or you simply grew up with Bugs Bunny) you might recognize the namesake of this next gallery. Established in San Diego in 1996, the Chuck Jones Gallery keeps the most well known animator and animation director’s spirit alive. Featuring some of Warner Brother’s most famous characters (i.e. Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Road Runner etc), the gallery exhibits Jones’s life’s work. Even better, other animator’s work is displayed throughout the gallery, celebrating this beautiful form of art through sculptures and renderings.

Being the only San Diego gallery dedicated to animated film, it attracts many fans of Loony Toons and animation in general. Visitors to the Chuck Jones Gallery can purchase their favorite pieces, many of which contain their favorite childhood characters. Recently moved from Old Town San Diego, the Chuck Jones Gallery can be found now in the historic Gaslamp District.

Subtext Gallery
Art by Ken Garduno

Subtext Gallery

A relatively young art gallery, the Subtext Gallery provides a fresh and diverse presence to the art community. One of the main reasons Subtext has gained popularity is due to their modern, bold pieces. Every month the gallery is transformed with new exhibitors who bring unique themes and artistic styles to the space. When each exhibition opens, the gallery celebrates with an opening night full of appetizers, drinks, and even local band performances. Over 60 exhibitions have been displayed at Subtext, giving visitors an array of intriguing artwork.

The gallery’s doors opened in September of 2006, with owners Don Hollis and Dylan Jones originally establishing it as a unique bookstore featuring a small gallery. After moving the gallery to a second location and switching the emphasis towards art to cater to their customers’ interest, the modern Subtext Gallery was born. You can view and purchase available art of various medias on Subtext Gallery.

The Art of Tim Cantor Gallery
Painting by Tim Cantor

The Art of Tim Cantor Gallery

The Art of Time Cantor gallery features the art of renowned artist Tim Cantor, and his personal pieces are on display at the gallery named San Diego’s best art gallery by ABC10 News. The artist, Tim Cantor, has been painting with oils since the ripe young age of five. He was publicly recognized as an artist at fifteen when he received his own gallery exhibition in the White House. Cantor’s career has only escalated from this point on, creating demand for his detailed pieces.

The San Diego gallery location is an elegant space, which does a great favor in displaying Cantor’s paintings in a calming environment. If you are unfamiliar with Tim Cantor’s work, the band Imagine Dragons’ “Smoke + Mirrors” album features artwork for each song painted exclusively by Cantor. The album can even be purchased inside the gallery. Available artwork can be purchased on Tim Cantor's website or by visiting the gallery. 

TPG2 gallery
Art by Scott Saw


TPG2 is the second of three galleries by the name of Thumbprint Gallery. TPG2 brings a modern artistic flare to the Hillcrest area. Originally established in 2009, the Thumbprint Gallery began serving up urban contemporary art in the San Diego region. Feeling the need to branch out, two additional locations sprouted from the success of the gallery’s exhibitions.

TPG2 has transformed into a trendy gallery location that spotlights art from all over, even hosting some international artists. The main focus of the art displayed in TPG2 is urban art and pop surrealism. By allowing some lesser-known artists—along with established and notable artists—to show their work, the gallery has gained a faithful following. Exhibitions are changed and featured monthly, and receptions are held every second Saturday of the month for visitors to experience the new art. To see upcoming exhibitions or to purchase prints and other souvenirs, visit TPG2.