Thanks for the responses. Let me return in kind.
1) Search results sticking: this was a bug, it should be fixed now. so you know, there are still some issues with the way "most popular" sorting works, I am still looking into the backend reasons why this is happening but be assured this is not desired functionality, its just not all working yet
You can't say fairer than that. Thanks for it.
2) The reason the results sorting is on the left: this is because this is the most common thing people want to set as a filter. By default when you hit the explore page with no filters on (not from a search) the filter menus on the right are minimized. This is to keep the page simple for people who don't care about filters and for those users they can still just change the sorting real quick if they want (technically sorting isn't really a filter anyways). Also its worth noting that if you ARE using the filters on the right you can also use the dropdown box in the filter list to change your sorting there, you don't have to go back to the left and change it in both places/twice. Its just a convenience thing, if you always use filters feel free to completely ignore it.
That the sorting is repeated salves things. I can see the function of a "quick button" on the left, so I'm convinced there.
3) Location of the search box: The reason the search box is up here is to keep it consistent across all pages on the new site. Unlike current WC, you can actually jump to a search of multiple different individual galleries directly from any page. Moving the search box just on the explore page would be a bit jarring, and having two search boxes on a single page would be confusing.
I'll just have to disagree on that point. The context for searching anything in that location is "Whole Site". That it also functions as "Refine Search" is just as jarring. Every assumption from every other website I've used is that if the search location is at the periphery of the site, it functions solely as a search for site-wide stuff.
Analogy: In radio and television, you have what are essentially "layers of truth". The anchor cedes the talking floor to the reporter or analyst who either cedes to another reporter or an interviewee. Each layer gets the view/listener closer to the primary source and lends greater credibility the further in you go. That's why you never see an anchor directly interviewing the "man on the street". The anchor has no context for credibly interviewing the subject. It's the reporter who does that.
Likewise, the website's function is built like layers of an onion. The outer site-wide search has to do with the onion as a whole. When you drill down into a smaller context, you search within that context, not put the outer layer of the onion back on and search from there.
Suggestion: Re-locate the search below the menu bar. Associate it in some way closer to the search results (picture something like this: WindowBlinds->Brad Pitt->By Highest Rated->"search here"). Then when you have the homepage up, it functions as a site-wide search (or specific depending on the drop-down operatoin). When you have search results up, it functions in the context of those search results. In this case it both makes contextual sense and remains in the same location, alleviating the confusion you speak of.
Now I suspect that this is probably cast in stone by now, so I won't speak further. But I did want to say my piece on the matter. I hope it makes sense and that I made a reasonable case.
4) Jumping filters: Filter menu is now a click toggle... Enjoy.
Much much better. Thank you.
5) More filters seperated: These are seperated because there are potentially so many of them depending on the gallery that it could move the "Apply" button off the page. Also a large majority of users rarely use them and thus there is no need for them to be bombarded with a bunch of checkboxes they don't care about. This is my understanding of why this is like it is, the decision to seperate them was made before I started here so I cant say FOR SURE this is why.
But if it were ensconced inside the "explore filters" section and closed by default, it would only jump down by the height of the "more filters" bar. Then you could open "more filters" if you wanted to and then the apply button would be below making more sense. Dunno, it just seems weird to have "more filters" open, "explore filters" closed and just have checkboxes without an apply button visible.
Thanks for your time,
ps- and if someone could explain how I do quote blocks a'la UBB, I'd be grateful.