‘Probably a six-pack’
December 14, 2021 § Leave a comment
ONE DAY IN THE mid-90s, not long after I opened my gallery, in the door one afternoon walked the great sculptor Manuel Neri — quite a thrill for a new gallery owner interested in California art.
“Is this where my old roommate Hank Villierme is showing?” he asked.
We’d recently opened a major exhibition of Henry Villierme’s paintings, his first in ages. Villierme had been a rising star, one of a dozen artists included in the seminal 1957 Bay Area figurative exhibition at the Oakland Museum, before he disappeared from the art scene and went to work for a living. Villierme and Neri were roommates while they both attended what was then the California College of Arts and Crafts, a major site of artistic ferment in that era.
I was too star-struck to remember much of the conversation with Neri. But later I showed Villierme a picture I’d run across of him and Neri back when they were roommates. Henry took a look and smiled. “Probably a six-pack under my arm,” he said.
— Thomas Reynolds
MORE: “Neri first exhibited on Fillmore“