A second grand opening

March 18, 2022 § Leave a comment


When Thomas Reynolds moved his well-established gallery from its perch in San Francisco’s tony Pacific Heights, the gallery’s home for 25 years, it seemed an auspicious idea to set up shop and a new home in Santa Barbara. The Thomas Reynolds Gallery, situated in a spot just a few doors up from the Arlington Theater on State, enjoys a central location in close proximity to the city’s expanding Arts District, two blocks from the Museum of Art.

A year ago, the arrival of vaccinations was breeding widespread hope for a return to normal human behavior and old cultural habits. Alas, along came Delta and Omicron, delaying the comfort zone with visiting indoor galleries and businesses.

One year later, the Covid cobwebs are finally being dusted away and art-seekers are getting out more. For anyone who has put off checking out the space, it’s time to visit Reynolds’ current exhibition, 1 Yr in SB. Consider it a second grand opening, and an illuminating introduction to the focus of Reynolds’ work as a gallerist.

In short, the art is about and from California, mostly tapping Bay Area or Los Angeles scenes and landmarks as iconography. In terms of artistic approach, the work tends to live between the realms of abstraction and realism, each with its own code of conduct within that idiomatic “between” zone.

• General overview visions of California cities, romantic while cool, are presented by Mark Matsuno and Veerakeat Tongpaiboon, circling around the realism with separate visions. Matsuno’s aerial view of the winding and mostly dry Los Angeles River is the subject of A River Runs Through It, and Tunnel Vision offers a horizontal, symmetrical view of a vintage tunnel, with echoing arch patterns stretching into the distance. With his odes to San Francisco, including the action-blurred Market Street traffic hustle of Bike Lane in the gallery’s window, Tongpaiboon proves to be an exacting but fluid painter, with a rich palette and an idealized city as expressive playground.

• Sandy Ostrau, a UCSB graduate, delves deeper into abstract sensibilities than others in the show and enjoys laying on thick, palpable textures of paint. Figures appear in stages of prop-like ambiguity, as in Standing Together, but with an intimacy beyond their pictorial function. A lone, tilting semblance of a figure leans into a run in Morning Run, a centering device in the composition, divided by rectilinear color zones. Fields to Sea draws doubly on California connections, given its similarity to Northern-turned-Southern Californian Richard Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park series, a touchstone of the idea of natural abstraction.

• Art historical parallels take a different turn in Ken Auster’s infectious but also voyeristic, fly-on-the-wall paintings of restaurant life. He’s Coming With Your Soup invokes its story with the title, while the intriguing Merry Souls plots figures in a murky shaded foreground, with a glistening bar and mural in the background. Through discernibly contemporary, these rugged slice-of-life paintings also refer back to the immortal views of leisure and epicure captured by Manet and Renoir in the late 19th century.

• Also in the show are nudes, elegant and classicist in Stevan Shapona’s canvases, and in rougher impressions through Kim Frohsin’s ink-on-paper and mixed media visions. Gary Bukovnik lightens the sensory load with airy fine floral studies.

The gallery’s first anniversary party continues with a part two exhibition, Sandy Ostrau: Paradise Revisited, in April and May. Stop by. Masks are optional and the art is inviting.

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