‘That flicker of gold’

April 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

Ken Auster | Slide Ranch

Ken Auster | Slide Ranch

ONE DAY I was invited to go out with a few friends and paint on location at a local beach. Using an old easel and a few tubes of oil paint left over from college painting classes, I set up and started painting what I saw. The experience was a turning point in my life. Here was the bare bones of art — no process and minimal equipment, just a burst of passion and paint, with immediate results and gratification. It just happened and it was beautiful.

A year and probably 200 paintings later, I was ready to get feedback from people other than my friends. I looked north to San Francisco. For me, San Francisco has always been a kind of Disneyland for adults. My first adventure there was in 1967 during the Summer of Love. There’s still a Jefferson Airplane poster on the wall in my studio. So during another trip to the happiest place on earth, I thought I would stop at a few galleries with some transparencies and see if I could get some response.

The last stop on this spontaneous gallery tour was the Thomas Reynolds Gallery, in a classic Victorian flat a few steps from Fillmore Street. A series of small rooms showing mostly small paintings, each one hanging with room to breathe. I presented my slides — and the owner wanted to see more. It was at that moment I realized that a good gallery was interested in my work.

A few weeks later we scheduled my first show. My original vision was to paint landscapes of Northern California — trees, rocks, ocean and hills, but no city. That first show sold out. So did the second and third. It was the mid-90s at the height of the plein-air painting renaissance and I was right in the middle of it all, painting many of the small towns along the California coast. I won top prizes at the plein-air events that were cropping up, and the surfer-turned-painter story was picked up by several art magazines.

Then came another moment that again changed my direction as a painter. I was driving in San Francisco on California Street late in the afternoon heading into the belly of the city — a straight shot downhill punctuated by intersections and cross traffic with red taillights glued loosely together at the bottom. I stopped at a red light and just stared for a moment at this incredible concrete grand canyon. I grabbed my camera and started taking pictures, circling the block and hoping to hit every red light. Everywhere I looked was a painting. Artists are always looking for the moment that is the catalyst for the next painting — that flicker of gold. I had found the mother lode.

— from Ken Auster: Intellect & Passion

Intellect & Passion | Ken Auster

Flowers for China

March 26, 2014 § Leave a comment

Gary Bukovnik at work on his largest watercolor yet.

Gary Bukovnik at work on his largest watercolor yet.

SAN FRANCISCO PAINTER Gary Bukovnik has become increasingly popular in China, with a number of museum exhibitions of his watercolor paintings of flowers in recent years.

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‘The message was what moved me’

March 3, 2014 § 1 Comment

Herman Volz | Picket Line, 1938

Herman Volz | Picket Line, 1938

By JAN HOLLOWAY

I came to an art career at midlife. After raising four children, I took some art history courses and the docent training course at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. It was especially fun introducing school children to the museum.

Then, my interest piqued, I set out to be a part of the commercial art world.

In 1980, I was hired by the well-established Maxwell Galleries in the heart of San Francisco’s art scene near Union Square. It was a turning point for me. Maxwell’s afforded an opportunity to become acquainted with a wide range of American and European art from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was also a terrific place to learn the business of running an art gallery from Mark Hoffman, the owner of Maxwell Galleries, who was a genial gentleman and a seasoned pro.

Armed with that valuable experience and my husband Maurice’s support, I went out on my own. At first I worked as a private dealer from our home in San Francisco. Eventually I found a little storefront on Francisco Street in North Beach and opened a gallery there in 1988. Within a year or so, I had become acquainted with artists who had worked on the Coit Tower murals and began showing their work. Then more and more art of the 1930s and early 1940s came into my inventory.
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The Jan Holloway Collection

March 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

A catalog is available.

In the catalog of the exhibition, Jan Holloway tells the stories of the artists she collected.

REVIEW | COLETTE TANAKA

For nearly 20 years Jan Holloway worked in the San Francisco gallery community, where she developed a niche exhibiting California artists of the early 20th century. The exhibition history of her gallery would reveal the names of prominent artists, but more important were the many exhibitions that shed light on careers forgotten or overshadowed.

Now she is sharing her personal collection in a book and exhibition called “Good Times – Hard Times,” which consists primarily of the work of the generation of artists active in San Francisco between the two world wars. This group vividly represents two significant changes in the art world, one artistic, the other social and cultural.
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Audel Davis honored at Grove Park

March 1, 2014 § Leave a comment

Audel Davis Coppersmith

A catalog of Audel Davis’s work accompanied the Grove Park exhibit

AUDEL DAVIS is the first living crafter to be honored with an exhibit in the Great Hall of the Grove Park Inn. The exhibit [from February 21 to 23, 2014] is also the first one-person showing of his work in a non-commercial setting. It is entirely fitting that Audel Davis be honored in this way, and in this place. He has a long affiliation with the Grove Park Inn Arts and Crafts Conference, having attended all but three of the 26 conferences. His deep commitment to the ideals of the movement, too, both aesthetically and philosophically, make this exhibit a supremely natural manifestation of the conference’s mission to educate and inspire those who revere the Arts and Crafts movement and its contemporary renaissance.

Those who know Audel personally will understand how his self-effacing nature initially rebelled against the idea of an exhibit honoring his work. A modest man of unfailing good humor and grace, Audel is not comfortable in the spotlight. But if you are also familiar with his work, which this exhibit seeks to elucidate, you will know that Audel Davis is completely deserving of the attention this exhibit brings to him.

Some years ago I was the very happy recipient of a pair of Audel’s candlesticks. They have become like members of our family, such is the warm and personal character that they express over years of closeness and familiarity, not unlike the people who are dear to me. The attributes of family and warmth are naturally a part of Audel’s work, and as you contemplate the objects in this exhibit you may also sense the traits that make his way of working copper to be so very much more than merely raised, planished, hammered and patinated sheets of metal.

— TED BOSLEY, Director
The Gamble House
Pasadena, California

Foreword to Audel Davis Coppersmith
Copyright 2014 by Roger Moss

Read more: “A coppersmith of skill and maturity

Warming up a special place

March 1, 2014 § Leave a comment

Renovating the historic Swedenborgian Church in San Francisco

Renovating the historic Swedenborgian Church in San Francisco

MOST RENOVATIONS and facelifts aim to make things look a little younger and fresher. But that was not the case with the work just completed at the historic Swedenborgian Church at Washington and Lyon streets in San Francisco.

On February 16, the congregants entered through the garden and past a crackling fire in the massive fireplace, just as they always have, as they returned to their sanctuary after the first major renovation in the church’s 119-year history.

The restored dove window from the outside

The restored dove window

“It’s so toasty in here,” said office manager Dana Owens, who supervised the project. The fireplace was the primary source of heat until radiant heating was added during the renovation underneath the refinished wooden floorboards. Discreet lighting was tucked into the madrone trees and rafters that support the roof. The stained glass windows were restored and the thick, rounded wooden doors were refinished.

The Swedenborgian Church, built in 1894, is the birthplace of the Arts & Crafts movement in the United States. Its simple handmade maple chairs with tule rush seats were the inspiration for all Mission-style furniture that followed.

On March 16, the Swedenborgians will launch a monthly lecture series on the art and architecture of the unusual church, which is a National Historic Landmark.

Reinstalling the stained glass window above the altar

Reinstalling the stained glass dove window above the altar

Read more: “Arts & Crafts movement started here

Timothy Pfleuger’s San Francisco

February 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

Timothy Pfleuger's 450 Sutter Street in San Francisco

Timothy Pfleuger’s 450 Sutter Street in San Francisco

“HE NEVER WENT TO COLLEGE, yet Timothy Pfleuger became one of the San Francisco’s best-known architects of his era,” says Therese Poletti, Pfleuger’s biographer. “His work is stunning and original. He did not resort to the oft-used motifs of the Jazz Age and Moderne period. Instead, he found his own inspirations — often influences that tied back to the city of San Francisco, such as the Asian figures in the canopy ceiling of the Castro Theatre. Pflueger said he got the idea for them when he was walking around Chinatown.”

“He also brought artists into almost all of his projects, starting very early on in his career. Thanks to Pflueger, who first hired Diego Rivera to paint a mural in the San Francisco Stock Exchange Luncheon Club (now the City Club), San Francisco has three murals by Rivera, two of which can be seen by the public.”

40 Fabulous Photos of Pfleuger’s San Francisco

Pflueger's 140 New Montgomery Street

Timothy Pfleuger’s 140 New Montgomery Street

WHAT YELP’S NEW HEADQUARTERS, the recently renovated landmark 140 New Montgomery designed by Timothy Pflueger, could teach the city’s tech scene. READ MORE: “A 26-Story History of San Francisco

THE McALLISTER TOWER APARTMENTS at 100 McAllister Street in San Francisco — now the dorm for UC’s Hastings College of the Law — got its start as one of the strangest hotel schemes in San Francisco history. The church-hotel combo was the brain child of Rev. Walter John Sherman, who built a “superchurch” with a hotel on top. Timothy Pflueger’s firm designed the building in a neo-Gothic style with an Art Deco twist. Miller & Pflueger was fired and Lewis P. Hobart was brought in to finish the hotel, though he essentially kept Pflueger’s design.

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