As a way to move forward into the year, and away from the typical “happy hour” of other years prior, Rising Arts Leaders partnered with Max Daily at the Oslo Sardine Bar in Seaport Village in order to get together and get to know what kind of art was being showcased locally in San Diego. We originally interviewed Daily the evening of the event, just a couple of days prior to San Diego shutting down due to safety precautions regarding the Coronavirus pandemic. Here’s the interview, with an update from Max at the end: a month after everything.
Why sardines? Just from traveling. When you go to Europe, they have a lot of conservas in Spain and Portugal, which are just shops that only sell canned fish. The difference between the United States canned fish and the fish over there is just the quality of what they pack in it. Soit’s all the same fish, and it’s all from the same sea. It’s just the difference in quality. Most people here eat sardines and they think they don’t like it because they’re cheap, y’know. It’s the cheap version of it. So over there, it’s more of a delicacy, and they take a lot of pride in it. And the cans are really beautiful. You’ll walk into these shops and it’s just… walls of color. And these shops have been there for over a hundred years! They’re really an art piece in themselves. That’s really what inspired me.
How did you get into pop-up art spaces? It comes from a theater background, I think. I majored in set design, and then after that, I worked at the Museum of ContemporaryArt, installing other art exhibits. So I got to see that, oh, art isn’t just flatwork or paintings. There’s a whole other side to it.
What has your journey been like as an artist? I started in improv theater. And then, well, this all happened: I had a show at Bread and Salt, and on closing night, there’s a little gallery there called “This Is Not An Exit” and they weren’t using it, so my friend Tom was like, “Oh, did you want to do something in here?” I didn’t really know what I wanted to do in there, but at my art shows, we used to serve sardines, instead of cheese, so he was like: “Why don’t we serve sardines in here?” So, we found a piece of wood, and we just made a makeshift bar, and people really liked it. That was the original thing. It just organically grew from there.
Where did you start? We were in the WOW Festival, and when that happened, I decided to re-do the whole space and put a lot of time and money into making it a really neat experience, rather than just canned fish. Then we rebuilt that exact same room, but in a shipping crate, and sent it around the country, and then when we came back we did this. We do all the events here, and as a gallery, we’re only open for private appointments. Come down and view the art, and all that!
Do you have any tips for up-and-coming or rising artists? Just go with your gut! Really, it is. I think a lot of times, artists forget other people don’t think like us, so you go, “Oh, what I’m doing isn’t that great” but no one else thinks like you, so if you’re an artist, and you’re expressing something a certain way, then stick with it, and it’ll happen, I think!
On March 15th, just five days after the Arts Hour event, Daily posted on his Instagram that Oslo SardineBar was “Closed [Till] Further Notice” after which he took to keeping his followers updated with both his artworks and available sardines (and other seafood goodies) that he has available for sale. He has been doing social distance drop-offs around the county and has been creating traditional artworks that are also available for sale.
We wanted to check in with you after everything that has happened [with COVID-19]. How have things been? Great. Delivering sardines weekly and making art!
Follow Max on Instagram: @mrdaily