The push he needed

June 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

Spinner | Francis Livingston

Spinner | Francis Livingston

From Southwest Art magazine:

One day in the early 1990s, Francis Livingston mentioned to client Thomas Reynolds, then editor and publisher of California Lawyer magazine, that he had painted some atmospheric scenes of the nearby old coastal town of Santa Cruz. “He came to my studio, and he wanted to buy them,” Livingston says. “But I didn’t want to sell them.”

Not long after, Reynolds phoned the artist. “He said, ‘Francis, I’m opening a gallery and want to give you a one-man show. And then I can buy your art!’ ”

That gave Livingston the push he needed to produce his first gallery works. In 1994, Livingston’s first show of moody Santa Cruz oils at the new Thomas Reynolds Gallery in San Francisco won him positive recognition.

Read more: “Francis Livingston: Realities Reimagined

‘I keep returning to it’

October 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

FRANCIS LIVINGSTON (above) on three decades of painting roller coasters and Ferris wheels. Below, a walk with the artist through his Fall 2013 exhibition, “The Color of Light.”

Ice cream!

May 1, 2008 § Leave a comment

The paintings for Francis Livingston’s new “Ice Cream” exhibition have begun to arrive …

Journey to the tropics

October 22, 2004 § Leave a comment

A catalog of Francis Livingston's paintings is available.

Trips to tropical islands to capture them in paint don’t always yield the best results. But a recent trip did. One of the major factors was that this was a combination travel event, with much time being spent with my son looking for birds and exploring their habitat. This exploration took me to different parts of the islands, introduced me to people and showed me small villages I probably would never have explored if my sole reason was to look for things to paint.

For two weeks we were in the rain forest, mountains and beaches. We also spent some time in larger towns. My mind is still reeling from the visual impact: the contrast of wealth and poverty and the wonderful graphics and colors on buildings in both rural and urban areas. The people and the color and light are inspiring a significant group of paintings.

— FRANCIS LIVINGSTON

Yesteryear’s amusement parks

October 15, 2001 § Leave a comment

Yellow Cristal | Francis Livingston

Francis Livingston is fascinated with dramatic architectural structures. Using oil on wood panels, he depicts antique roller coasters, rhythmic effects of water towers on old roof tops, unique configurations of yesteryear’s movie theaters and amusement parks, as well as the dramatic effects of scale as oversized construction looms over a subdued city.

The artist honed his skills in Northern California, working as an illustrator. He absorbed the Bay Area look — bold and free impressionistic brushstrokes, emphasis on shape rather than on line and an abstract approach to realism. Yet the tone of Livingston’s art — its most essential characteristic — is in the vein of the Ash Can School of the early 20th century. Ash Can painters, such as John Sloan, created haunting vignettes of cityscapes in thickly applied brushstrokes, with a dark and muted palette to project the feeling that pervades how isolated an individual feels in a large metropolis.

Livingston, too, render portraits of urban realism — attractive and impressive worlds that express the city environment as it exists but is little noticed. Livingston searches for the beautiful in the mundane, crafting pictorial representations of the authenticity of urban living. As artists have done throughout the ages, Livingston often reorders the components of a particular city scene. His keen artistic eye brings together buildings, streets and assorted structures from several locales, giving the final painting an optimally engaging composition.

Living in Sun Valley, Idaho, Livingston travels to large cities to seek out architectural subject matter. Cities are filled with exotically shaped ’30s and ’40s theaters with lavish patterns. New York City provides a rich palette of diverse designs. Tenements, brownstones, Greek and Victorian Revivals and Art Deco facades of brick, ornamental marble and cement — once elegant buildings that have lost their luster become enlivened in Livingston’s work.

In Coney Island and Santa Cruz — known for their turn-of-the-20th century amusement parks, beaches and playground decor — Livingston has found a wealth of subject matter. As many of these amusement park structures no longer exist, he documents the exhilarating feeling of being confronted by the enormity and grandeur of a majestic roller coaster, with bright yellow cars on red tracks rushing downward at high sped. Or, he portrays gargantuan Ferris wheels surrounded by brightly colored, circus-like tents with a carnival atmosphere.

In this varied collection of urban reality, Livingston brings to life a range of architectural structures — from dark-toned, somber brown buildings with vertical and horizontal alignment, antiquated signage and ornate embellishments to playful, upbeat forms of circular gyrating mechanization. Add to this the artist’s love of nostalgia and mood and what emerges are paintings that exude a uniquely spirited ambiance. Livingston captures the pulse of cities and transports the viewer back in time to countless places, many of which still exist in the 21st century.

— ROBERTA CARASSO

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