Sealevel - new Sunset creative space

B0ardside recently popped into SEALEVEL and sat down for a chat with Jeana Loraine, the owner of a new art gallery and creative space nestled in the middle of the Irving business corridor that stretches between the Great Highway and Sunset Blvd.

Tell us about yourself and how you landed at Sealevel on Irving Street in the Outer Sunset?

My husband and I moved here a little over 10 years ago from Switzerland. We were looking for better job opportunities for him as well as adventure and so we pretty much got rid of all our stuff, packed two little bags, and came here. We ended up in the Outer Sunset because that was the only place we could afford. We ended up out here and did not like it in the beginning because it was cold and foggy and rainy, and I’d never been to this part of the city. It didn’t take long until we completely fell in love with the Sunset with its kind-of surf town charm. Yeah, we’ve been hooked ever since.

Then during the pandemic, I was fortunate enough to take over this space I’m in now, Sealevel. It started out as a shared workspace with some neighbors. But since this year, I’ve been promoting it as my workshop, and in the evenings and on weekends, it is a community space.

What inspired you to open a creative space like this?

This is something I’ve always wanted ever since I can remember. I always wanted to have my own space. I’ve worked for a music venue in Zurich, Switzerland for about twenty years now. And when I first came to that place, I felt like I had found my home, my port in nautical terms. When I was working there, I really enjoyed working in hospitality and bringing people together and organizing music shows and I just loved how it made people happy. I always thought someday I would have my own bar or restaurant or something, then when I found this space here, I realized that it doesn’t have to be a bar or a venue. It can just be like a living room where people can come and hang out and get to know their neighbors, a place where people can come together and exchange ideas and resources. I love when people walk in and ask questions like “what is this?” I’m really enjoying just bringing people in the neighborhood together where new connections are made, and new ideas are born.

That’s great. So you have a graphic design background and you do the posters for the venue in Switzerland? How did you get involved with that? They are fantastic.

Thank you! I went to art school in Zurich and went through their graphic design program, and I ended up working in a few companies, but I was working as a waitress at the venue so I started doing their posters. And then I came into management and started booking the shows. But, the great thing was that I had free reign on the creative direction of the posters. So I was allowed to develop my own style.

They really capture a mood in a place and time, kind of a nautical era-retro look.

I feel really drawn to the ocean and there is something nostalgic about the ocean to me, or something like yearning. That’s something I try to bring into my illustrations as well. There is always a story behind each one.

You now have an art show up on the walls, Summer in the Sunset. This is your first show at Sealevel. How has the experience been for you so far?

It’s been great! We have 19 local artists in this show. I was not expecting to have that much interest since it’s the first show we’re putting on. But I’m really excited about it and everybody in the show is just fantastic. The opening was a huge success. I knew there would be people, but I was not expecting that many people. The few days after I would go out and people would come up to me and be like, Oh, I missed the show, but I heard it was amazing. So it kind of felt a little bit like the talk of the town.

This little Irving corridor has several businesses. What else is on these few blocks?

There’s actually been a lot happening recently. There’s Sunset Fit, or Fitness. a new little gym that opened. Sunset Auto Care. This new bakery that opened, Daymoon, which is fantastic. Palm City, a wine bar, and then there’s Clancy’s which is a neighborhood staple, and, Swell Bicycles. A doggy Bath O Mat, Avenue Dry Goods, which is also a little shop that has a lot of knick knacks from many local people, Blackbird bookstore and Hookfish, The Last Straw.

So along with the art gallery, what is your vision for this space?

So right now we have an open mic monthly hosted by Sami Freeman who is a local musician (Her husband Matt is a carpenter and he built the workshop tables for Sealevel); Jeremy Greco from Other Avenues is going to perform his solo theater show The Big Snap in September; and the next art show opens October 14; then a holiday market throughout December with all local makers. And starting next year we will have March, June, and September art shows. June always being Summer in the Sunset, with only sunset artists. And besides that... I also let people come in and teach classes. We’ve had some writing workshops and herbalist workshops. Possibly watercolor or sign painting, also a cyanotype workshop. So there will be all different kinds of things going on.

What is the next art show going to be?

The next show will be with the Sunset Sketchers group show, October & November. During the art shows we have a Friday happy hour from three to six, so come hang out!

Interview by Brent Willson.
Jeana illustration by Douglas Gorney.
Other illustrations by Jeana Loraine.
SEALEVEL is located at 4331 IRVING ST.
Originally printed B0ardside6.