Getting on Jerry’s list

January 18, 2023 § Leave a comment

Jerry Ross Barrish | The Most Honorable Profession (2016)


I first met Jerry Ross Barrish in 2015 when he curated a solo show of Sam Perry’s sculpture at the nonprofit community gallery, Sanchez Art Center, in Pacifica, California. Sam Perry, who is my husband, and I were soon added to Jerry’s enormous “studio party” guest list. These “behind-the-scenes” affairs are magical in nature: Picture yourself at a packed artist studio party surrounded by Jerry’s sculptures of jazz musicians, angels, animals, clowns, dancers, Statues of Liberty, plus live music. On January 1, Jerry telephones every friend on his list with a New Year’s greeting and follows up throughout the year with invitations to opening receptions, fundraisers and artist talks at Sanchez, where he serves as artistic director.

In his sculptures, Jerry Barrish applies his deft hand to the cast offs of our materialistic consumer society to tell immutable tales of love and loss. Familiar items like umbrella handles, funnels and toys are transformed when combined with takeout containers, janitorial supplies and vacuum parts. Each element of these assemblage sculptures is placed in a way that perfectly expresses the universal language of gesture.

In my earliest imaginings of M. Stark Gallery, I knew I wanted Jerry’s art to inaugurate the gallery exhibition program.

To me, the piece Jerry calls Teaching, The Most Honorable Profession (2016) is in many ways a self-portrait. Since he became the artistic director of Sanchez Art Center in 2003 he has mentored dozens of artists. In the process of selecting works for exhibitions, he also discovers works in artist studios that merit further exploration and development and he continues the conversation with these artists in furtherance of both. After many, many helpful conversations about opening this new gallery — lighting, installation, public programs and even business hours — I am proud to call Jerry my mentor as well.

— excerpted from “Jerry Ross Barrish: Protagonist,” catalog for the inaugural exhibition at the new M. Stark Gallery at 727 Main Street in Half Moon Bay, California.


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