Community Feature

Patric Stillman of The Studio Door: Celebrating 10 years of LGBTQ+ ART

By Cesar A Reyes

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Artist and Gallerist Patric Stillman to talk about The Studio Door’s Tenth Anniversary. The Studio Door is more than a gallery, it is a safe space for LGBTQ+ artist to showcase their creativity without fear. We wanted to know about Patric’s own creative journey and what inspired him to open the Studio Door. 

Please tell us about yourself and what inspired The Studio Door?
Before the age of 20, I experienced a creatively fulfilling life, but the impact of AIDS forced me to put my artistic aspirations on hold. However, at 40, I made a profound decision to reconnect with my passion for art. Surrounded by like-minded artists, I found solace and inspiration, leading me to create The Studio Door. It became a sanctuary where artists could flourish, and communities could unite through creativity.

The Studio Door, as a small business, I aimed to diminish the idea of ‘the starving artist’ by showing firsthand that a creative professional life can be sustainable. Recognition from Professional Artist Magazine as Mentor of the Year and having my artwork featured in a group show at the Louvre Museum in Paris proved that anything is possible with dedication. It’s my hope that my journey can serve as a platform for others to find their own path.

You’re celebrating 10 years, tell us what that means to you?
Celebrating a decade of The Studio Door is not just a milestone; it’s a testament to the resilience of artists, patrons, and communities. It’s a moment to reflect on the transformative power of art and the profound impact The Studio Door has had on the cultural landscape of San Diego. Despite challenges, the gallery stands as a beacon of inclusivity and artistic excellence, fueled by the unwavering support of our diverse communities.

How will you celebrate?
This year-long celebration is a testament to our gratitude for San Diego and its vibrant art scene. We’re expanding our programs and forging innovative collaborations to deepen our connection with the community. From curated exhibitions featuring local talent to dynamic events in Mural Alley, every moment of celebration is a tribute to the spirit of creativity and collaboration that defines The Studio Door.

May is an important focal point of the anniversary with a curated exhibition from May 2 – 29 featuring ten local artists who represent the spirit of The Studio Door’s past, present, and future. An afternoon celebration on May 18, from 2 – 5 PM, will spill out from the gallery into Mural Alley with collaborations from the Hillcrest Business Association, local DJs, and studio artists.

I look at this moment as a bow on the first decade as we move confidently into a new era.  

Please explain the importance of having spaces like The Studio Door for LGBTQ+ Artists?
The Studio Door isn’t just a gallery; it’s a sanctuary for LGBTQ+ artists to express themselves authentically and without fear. In a world where our voices are often silenced or erased, this space offers refuge and validation. By showcasing LGBTQ+ artists’ work, we not only celebrate their talent but also amplify their voices, fostering greater visibility, representation, and acceptance within the art world and society.

As a gay man, it should come as no surprise that the LGBTQ+ component of my business is the foundation of my personal mission to bring my diverse community together in a positive manner.

I’m so pleased that the San Diego Tourism Authority understood the importance of this and has selected The Studio Door as a LGBTQ+ owned and operated small business for their accelerator cohort program.  This has given me the opportunity to rethink The Studio Door’s strengths and get the attention of tourists coming into the region.  

You are always trying to get more community engagement with different exhibits, can you tell us what’s in the works?
Our commitment to community engagement drives everything we do at The Studio Door. We’re proud to announce upcoming collaborations with esteemed organizations and individuals, including The Bureau of Queer Art (Mexico City, Mexico), Lambda San Diego Archives, historian Mike Balaban, and Mr. San Diego Leather 2024 Earl Gray.  We even have two curated exhibits by local college interns, which will be their first opportunities to take on a project on this scale in the art world. These partnerships will bring thought-provoking exhibits and public experiences that invite the greater San Diego community to connect, learn, and grow through art.

The exhibitions and studio artist visits are always free to the public.  The Studio Door was created to be an inviting space that welcomes the public to engage with art without the stuffiness associates with “white wall” galleries.  We ask the public to support the gallery and the artists through the purchase of the art that speaks to them.  

How can people follow you?
Stay connected with The Studio Door on social media platforms such as Instagram (@thestudiodoor), Facebook (@thestudiodoor), and LinkedIn for updates on our latest exhibitions, events, and artist spotlights. You can also visit our website ( and sign up for our newsletter to receive exclusive content and stay informed about opportunities to engage with the dynamic San Diego art community.

Please keep your eyes and ears open for a special announcement coming later this month from the community that enhances our celebration.