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In San Diego, a Little Italy Gets Bigger

By Jeff Schlegel

Published: June 10, 2010

Little Italy North in San Diego has long been the unsung, gritty industrial cousin to the main part of Little Italy’s restaurant row, essentially cut off from its southern half by two busy streets and a decidedly different mindset. But as many of the area’s machine shops and warehouses have closed, a nascent design district, featuring art galleries and home décor stores, has taken root in their former digs.

Evidently, though, the word still needs to get out. “There are people in Little Italy who don’t know this section is even part of Little Italy,” said Perry Meyer, owner of Perry L. Meyer Fine Art gallery (2400 Kettner Boulevard, Suite 104; 619-358-9512;, which specializes in limited-edition prints and works on paper, ranging from pieces by Miró and Chagall to vintage Italian posters. One of the scene’s early arrivals was Mixture (2210 Kettner Boulevard; 619-239-4788;, which opened in 2003. Its eclectic array of high-end modern European furniture, home accessories and local artwork include a red gloss, lacquered aluminum Colors table from Italy ($4,300). Couch potatoes with dollars to spend could go for the ultramodern, flowing curves of a German lava sofa for $11,000. Retro Boomerang for Modern (2475 Kettner Boulevard; 619-239-2040; offers midcentury modern. Early 1960s items recently included a pair of black leather and stainless steel Barcelona chairs ($3,900). Anything that can be recovered from old houses is jammed into Architectural Salvage (2401 Kettner Boulevard; 619-696-1313; Take, for example, the glass door knobs in a variety of styles ($15 to $22.50). And there are tough-to-classify items, like wooden doors from a Hungarian wine cave ($1,250). Then there are the owners of On Kettner (2400 Kettner Boulevard, Suite 110; 619-236-1601;, a home furnishings store that opened last summer, who pride themselves on not specializing in any particular style. It’s a place where 1930s-era hand-painted Asian coffee tables ($58 for the small; $125 for the large) share space with a wrought-iron French candelabra ($140). The focus at Casa Artelexia (2419 Kettner Boulevard; 619-544-1011;, which opened in February, is on handmade items from Mexican artisans. Featured works include wooden milagro crosses adorned with charms ($20), hand-painted glass dishes ($18 to $21) and large Oaxacan wood carvings in animal shapes ($600).

Committee on Artistic & Cultural Excellence

By Sasha Orman

Published: November 10, 2010

Best place to pretend it’s Día de los Muertos 24/7

Even from the outside, Casa Artelexia (2419 Kettner Blvd. in Little Italy, is an intense burst of color on an otherwise average city street—a small, standalone house, painted brilliant orange and blue, with a string of bright papel picado banners hanging cheerfully over a terracotta porch. The inside is no different. This little family-owned shop trades in handcrafted Mexican art, and every room is packed and overflowing with color and an all-encompassing reverence for the culture. (Even the house pets, a pair of parakeets, are named Frida and Diego. Too cute!) Beyond the simple pop kitsch of Loteria cards and luchador magnets—which, granted, is awesome enough already—the shop also gets serious with fine-art pieces like antique wall art, handcrafted silver jewelry, intricate Milagro carvings and cheerful ceramic kitchenware. With so much to offer, Elexia Orlic and her father (the family behind the shop) could easily rest on their laurels as purveyors of sweet art wares; instead, they work overtime to promote active participation in the art and culture they clearly adore. From craft workshops to movie nights, something’s going on at the little house nearly every weekend. Want to learn how to paint traditional ceramics, craft your own sugar skulls or build a proper Día de los Muertos altar? Casa Artelexia has you covered. Just want to hang out, listen to live music, watch a movie on the lawn and stuff your face with MIHO truck tacos? Casa Artelexia has you covered there, too.