Sparks Gallery exhibits and sells original Contemporary Artwork primarily by Southern California artists who innovate and provide excellent craftsmanship in a multitude of mediums.
Sparks Gallery showcases collaborative exhibitions, curated exhibitions by the gallery owner (Sonya Sparks), and solo exhibitions. With a focus on surreal and impressionistic artwork, the gallery curates towards emotive works in themes ranging from portraiture and figurative to landscape and conceptual.
Sparks Gallery champions artistic talent in the region and serves as a nexus for creative conversations to elevate the local artistic community.
Located in the Sterling Hardware Building in the Gaslamp Quarter District of downtown San Diego, Sparks Gallery serves as a premier mid-sized event venue for both public and private gatherings. Read more about the building’s history HERE.
If you would like purchase a piece of art, you may do so directly on our SHOP section of the website, or call or email the gallery to inquire to purchase. We do not charge California sales tax for items shipping out of state or abroad. We accept all forms of payment. Some pieces from certain artists may not be listed on the website. Please call if you are interested in a particular artist whose work is currently unavailable or not shown on the website.
Gallery Event Rentals
To inquire to rent the gallery for an event, please fill out our online form. The gallery is available annually for Comic Con rental, as well as gatherings year-round. We specialize in mid-size corporate events and creative gatherings with artistic activations for up to 300 guests (rolling) or 120 seated.
We have currently paused new portfolio submissions.
The Sparks Gallery Team
Sonya Sparks is the owner and chief curator at Sparks Gallery. Sonya studied art in conjunction with obtaining her Bachelor's degree in Business Administration at the University of San Diego. Sonya founded Sparks Gallery in 2013 to encourage the patronage of local artists, support local art groups and institutions, and to educate the public about Southern California artists. To listen to her podcast, click HERE.
Originally from Las Vegas, Nevada, Zach attended the University of San Diego, receiving two bachelor’s degrees: one in Visual Arts (emphasizing in Painting), and one in Finance. Prior to Sparks Gallery, Zach worked in the business sector serving as content manager for a San Diego based start-up and interning at numerous marketing and financial consulting companies. Zach is also a trained oil painter and has been a part of group shows as well as his own solo show at the University of San Diego. Zach now serves as our Gallery Manager, combining both his passion for art and his business acumen.
Levi earned his English degree and studied writing and art history in his home state of New York. After moving to San Diego, he became interested in the local art scene while working at the San Diego Museum of Art. Starting in 2015, he served as Director of Catering and Events for a local plant-based food company. He now strives to use his educational background to help build community through visual arts while helping to organize and plan events at Sparks Gallery.
As in-house photographer and gallery assistant at Sparks, Mariah's primary role is to annex and archive the work that flows throughout the gallery for a fully immersive presentation. Mariah obtained her Bachelors of Fine Arts with a focus in Photography from Arizona State University. She moved to California in pursuit of a thoughtful career path where she could support an artistic community and participate in the exhibition world, assisting curators and artists alike.
Barry received his B.S., M.S., and PhD. degrees in the biological sciences and immunology from the University of Illinois. After Eighteen years as a scientist and educator in cancer research at The Scripps Research Institute, University of Michigan Medical School and Hybritech, Inc., Barry obtained a law degree from University of San Diego and worked as a patent attorney in various law firms (until 2013). Barry is the President and co-owner of a real-estate investment company which owns the Sterling Hardware Building (Sparks Gallery), among others. After his role as a co-general contractor for the adaptive reuse of the property into an art gallery, Barry continues to manage the property and volunteers at the gallery.
Sterling Hardware Building History
The “Sterling Hardware Building” was built in 1924 and designated as a historic building in the early 1980s when the Gaslamp Quarter was created. Originally the 50×100’ lot was sold by real estate developer, Alonzo Horton, in 1867 for $150. The lot was later split into two separate properties of 25×100’ and sold separately. The north lot held a vaudeville theater, named “The Standard Theater”, specializing in variety shows and trapeze artists from 1888-1890. The south lot held a three-story building with levels for carriage repair and painting and upper level room rentals.
Later, the space was mainly occupied by C. Holle Company, maker of specialized glass, from 1911-1914. In 1904, Moritz Trepte, a German immigrant and carpenter, purchased the north half for $10. Trepte became “one of the Pacific Southwest’s leading contractors” and one can see his stamp on many old sidewalks throughout San Diego.Original Facade: Sterling Hardware Kier construction purchased both lots and built the current structure in 1924. The Sterling Company, seller of second-hand goods and tools, resided in the building in the 1970s, when it was developed into a corporate building.
Sparks Gallery launched the space as an art gallery in 2013 and re-opened with a new design in March 2015. The original wood floor and brick walls were restored by hand, creating an elegant balance between industrial and handcrafted detail. New industrial steel columns and seismic bracing to the building expanded the capacity limit from 50 to 348 occupants. In addition, an upper level mezzanine and interior structure with a catering kitchen, restrooms, office, and elevator lift to the second floor was newly constructed.