From architecture to art, via Paris

October 7, 2022 § 3 Comments

Michael Reardon | Pont Notre-Dame

I FIRST MET Michael Reardon when he was a regular with the Sunday Afternoon Watercolor Society, the gently mocking name a group of San Francisco architects gave themselves when they gathered in some scenic spot once a month with their watercolors. 

The Sunday Afternoon Watercolor Society visits Alta Plaza Park.

Michael Reardon | Bartholomew Park Winery

I’d seen one of Michael’s watercolors in a group exhibition of the California Art Club I hosted in 2009. I thought I didn’t much like watercolors, but I loved the abstraction of Michael’s vertical painting of a Sonoma winery.

So I invited myself to visit his studio and see more of Michael’s work. He was still working in architecture, having become a much sought-after architectural illustrator. But he painted watercolors on location quite often, too. He had a lot of beautiful work of various subjects, but no apparent theme for an exhibition. Then he pulled open a drawer of paintings he had done in Paris when he was awarded a three-month residency there to study some aspect of French architecture. He chose the historic fountains of Paris, and painted many of them in watercolor. He even wrote and published a book. We held his “Fountains of Paris” exhibition in 2011 at my San Francisco gallery. That’s when he and the other Sunday watercolorists painted in nearby Alta Plaza Park in the video above — and not long before Michael decided to graduate from architecture and give himself over entirely to painting and teaching.

I’ve thought since I got to Santa Barbara that this is another great architectural destination Michael might be moved to paint. That hasn’t happened yet, but the ARTchitecture exhibition provided an opportunity to introduce his work here. Demonstrating the wide appeal of his paintings, the first three claimed are going to Australia.

— Thomas Reynolds

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