Best New Gallery: Most zealous art promoter
Esteban Sabar Gallery
Esteban Sabar, a fortysomething man from San Francisco's Castro district, miffed his new neighbors near downtown Oakland when he moved into their nascent arts district this January. Not because he was gay, but because he was relatively well heeled. Gay bashing may be gauche, but class warfare is still avant-garde, and the grumblings started immediately: "He doesn't represent Oakland," they said. "He's not from the streets." "He's trying to make money." Indeed, his gallery is cleaner, bigger, well stocked, and better heeled compared to its contemporaries. It's also the best thing to happen to the area. Art galleries in Oakland open and close before the paint can dry, but the Sabar aims for longevity with a dirt-cheap lease, a 2,500-square-foot track-lighted space, and an exquisite brick facade. Sabar has New York, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Francisco art collectors in his Rolodex, and they've started throwing their money around the ghetto, changing the whole East Bay art equation. Along with his charming husband Marty McCorkle, the diminutive Sabar has seized the gold standard for professional presentation, advertising, and attitude. He's uniquely positioned to meet the impending condo culture head-on, and uniquely impassioned to matter on a national scale for years to come.