October 24, 2021 § Leave a comment
THE GREAT Bay Area Figurative painter William Theophilus Brown recalled that one of his professors at UC Berkeley in the early 1950s was not impressed with the new student from New York — until a letter arrived.
He took a dim view of me. I remember he made fun of me the first semester. I was painting on a peel-off palette, and my brushes weren’t big enough. I don’t know. He laid it on me. And then I got a case of poison oak. Being an eastern boy, I knew ivy but not oak. And it started on my forehead and worked its way down non-stop to my feet. So I was out eight weeks. And I knew I would flunk the course. However, Elaine de Kooning wrote me a letter, and she didn’t have my address so it was just Bill Brown, Art Department, and it was pinned on the bulletin board in the hallway. And it just said de Kooning, it didn’t say Elaine. So when I came back, he came over right away to me and he said, “Do you really know de Kooning?”
— From an interview with Paul Karlstrom for the catalog of the 2011 exhibition, “Theophilus Brown: An Artful Life,” at the Thomas Reynolds Gallery in San Francisco.
July 19, 2021 § Leave a comment
GARY BUKOVNIK, one of the nation’s most respected contemporary watercolor painters, is presenting an exhibition of recent florals at the new Thomas Reynolds Gallery at 1331 State Street, near the historic Arlington Theater, in Santa Barbara.
The exhibition, “Gary Bukovnik: Watercolors,” opens with a public reception — the gallery’s first since moving from San Francisco to Santa Barbara earlier this year — on Friday evening, July 23, from 5 to 7 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, July 24 and 25, from 10 a.m. to noon, Bukovnik will paint on location at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. The painting demonstration will be live-streamed by the Botanic Garden. In addition, Bukovnik’s work will be included in the Lotusland Celebrates auction on July 24.
“Flowers chose me,” says Bukovnik. “I tried for years to escape. But flowers are the vocabulary of the language that I speak.” While his paintings are realistic and painted from life, he says: “Botanical accuracy is not my goal. Color is not even a concern. More and more I think of flowers as form. The structure comes from nature, but the rest comes from me.”
Bukovnik paints exclusively in watercolor, often on a large scale. “Watercolor has light — light is a positive force,” says Bukovnik. “I am a positive, optimistic person, so light — that is for me. I also like watercolor’s reductive nature, its spare and limpid qualities, and careful use of negative space, which is as important as any objects. And I like that there must be thought and study before taking action.”
Bukovnik has a long history with the Thomas Reynolds Gallery, having presented a number of exhibitions of his work at the gallery’s San Francisco location. The gallery was founded in 1994 and became a fixture in the Pacific Heights neighborhood, presenting historic and contemporary California art and artists.
April 2, 2021 § Leave a comment
THE Thomas Reynolds Gallery — Santa Barbara’s newest fine art gallery, located at 1331 State Street — is pleased to present “Francis Livingston: On the Waterfront,” a series of paintings of California’s seaside amusement parks.
Livingston is one of the premier figurative painters working today. In Santa Monica and Santa Cruz — known for their turn-of-the-20th century amusement parks and beaches — Livingston has found a wealth of subject matter.
The artist, who now lives and works in Sun Valley, Idaho, honed his skills in California, where he absorbed the Bay Area look — bold and free impressionistic brushstrokes, emphasis on shape rather than on line, and an abstract approach to realism.
January 20, 2021 § Leave a comment
By BETSY J. GREEN
A number of homes and estates in the Santa Barbara area have names. Some are fairly well known, such as Bellosguardo or Casa de la Guerra. Other names are less familiar. But the house at 1821 Anacapa Street in Santa Barbara has a name that no one — including the present owner — seemed to be aware of: Rosemary Cottage.
In 1919, the home’s most distinguished resident moved in — the landscape artist Thomas Moran and his daughter, Ruth. Moran’s main home was in East Hampton, New York, and is a National Historic Landmark. Starting about 1916-17, the 80-year-old Moran and his daughter began spending their winters in Santa Barbara. The first couple of years, they stayed at the Potter Hotel and other places. But about 1919, they bought the home at 1821 Anacapa Street and began spending every winter in Rosemary Cottage.
Moran was famous enough that the local newspaper published an article in 1917 titled, “Noted Painter of Big Views Arrives; Thomas Moran is Famous for His Canvases of Western Outdoor Wonders.” The article ended with a quote from Moran: “Santa Barbara is the most beautiful city, with its environs, I have seen in all California.”
Read more: “Rediscovering Rosemary Cottage“
September 24, 2020 § Leave a comment
ON MARCH 2, 1903, the California Legislature declared the golden poppy the state flower, prompting its proliferation on objects of all kinds, including paintings. That Granville Redmond started painting poppies in earnest just as the legislature made the flower’s status official was surely not coincidental.
The golden poppy, Eschscholzia californica, provided a distinctive, seasonal burst of color, enlivening yellow-green hills and meadows following winter rains. The poppy was more than a flower, however. It was a symbol of California itself, its golden hue emblematic of the state’s history of mining, its importance as an orange grower, its perennial sunshine, and its amber hillsides in summer. It appealed to locals and tourists alike.
In Redmond’s day, great profusions of poppies thrived throughout the state, but were especially notable in the San Gabriel Valley, where Redmond often worked. In 1904, Redmond started to focus on poppies, and he became incredibly skilled at doing so. Soon no other artist in California could match his aptitude for painting the flower in its natural environment. Like his colleagues, Redmond would come to depict poppies and other wildflowers in combination, pairing them most frequently with lupine, which provided a perfect, blue-purple complement to the poppy’s orange-yellow hue.
In many of his paintings, Redmond maintained what he considered to be a self-respecting balance between color and quiet, with poppies animating landscapes that were subtly hued. The poppies and lupine nestled within the otherwise tonal expanse provide orchestrated bursts of seasonal color — often just enough to leave the viewer longing for more. Redmond himself remained personally inclined toward quieter paintings, preferring, as he told an art critic for the Los Angeles Times, to paint pictures of “solitude and silence.” And yet, he confessed: “Alas, people will not buy them. They all seem to want poppies.”
MORE: “Granville Redmond’s quieter side“
— Excerpted from Granville Redmond: The Eloquent Palette, by Scott Shields and Mildred Albronda.
June 30, 2020 § 1 Comment
MICHAEL REARDON’S painting Light and Shadow has been juried into the 100th international exhibition of the National Watercolor Society, to be presented online this fall from October 1 to December 20.
Reardon, one of the nation’s most respected watercolor painters, tells how it happened.
I had long been interested in doing a fire escape painting, mainly because of the beguiling shadow patterns. After several false starts over the years, last June I saw this fire escape outside Specs’, an old San Francisco dive and thought this could be the one. I did a sketch but put it aside because there was something wrong with the composition.
In April, I was rearranging my stack of “problem” sketches when a piece of paper covered the right side of the sketch and, voilá, the composition problem was solved.
Sometimes painting works in mysterious, or not so mysterious, ways.
February 17, 2020 § 2 Comments
JOHN PAYNE had no desire to settle in California until he visited San Francisco. He immediately fell under the city’s charms and uniqueness.
There was no doubt that in the 1950s it was the place to be. Lawrence Ferlinghetti had just opened City Lights bookstore in North Beach, and the free-spirited culture of the Beat generation appealed to the young painter. The hills, the Victorian houses and the liberal politics were irresistible. Best of all, his allergies disappeared like magic in the gray fog.
May 19, 2019 § Leave a comment
Says Sandy Ostrau: “The Northern California coast has always been an important inspiration for my work. Now I’ve leased a beautiful studio space on The Sea Ranch and plan to spend more time up there working. The surrounding coast will undoubtedly continue to influence my work.”
March 30, 2019 § Leave a comment
THE CROCKER ART MUSEUM in Sacramento has received more than 1,800 works of art by Paul Wonner and William Theophilus “Bill” Brown and established the Paul Wonner and William Theophilus Brown Endowment Fund.
In accordance with the artists’ wishes, the fund will support museum projects relating to emerging artists or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning and intersex artists.
By 2023, the Crocker Art Museum will use the fund to mount an exhibition of the work of Wonner and Brown — the most comprehensive show of the artists’ body of work ever presented — and produce an accompanying catalogue.
“Paul Wonner and Bill Brown were trail blazers, both individually and as a couple,” said the museum’s associate director and chief curator, Scott A. Shields. “It is wonderful that their legacy will live on, not only through their own art, but though their forward-looking support of other artists. It is what they wanted, and everyone at the Crocker is honored to be able to realize their vision.”
Read more from the Crocker Museum
March 26, 2019 § Leave a comment
By THOMAS REYNOLDS
He’d lived in the flat on California Street for 37 years. Suddenly late one afternoon Jim Scott realized something was wrong. He called 911 and tried to answer all the dispatcher’s questions. Finally he told her: “Look, I have to get out of here. My room is full of black smoke.”
Sparks from a welder working next door had started a fire. The squadrons of firefighters soon on the scene flooded the blaze before it reached Scott’s apartment — but only after they had bashed in his ceiling and windows, leaving his home a soggy and smoky mess.
In his book, The Al Tarik, Scott, now 96, gently unfolds the story of the three years that followed and landed him in a residential hotel on Sutter Street he describes as “a century-old San Francisco pile” that is “a refuge for those like myself who in their last years have been roughed up and tossed on the rocks and shoals.”
At first his landlord assured Scott he would be back in his apartment within a few months. He moved in temporarily with a neighbor across the alley. But as the renovation of the building languished, he needed another place to stay, and found no good options. So he moved back into his charred apartment.
“There was no heat or light, but the water was still running,” he writes. “It was much better than the Tenderloin cesspool I had fled. On my first night in what had been my old bedroom, I looked up through the blackened rafters to the shingles of the roof, which roared with a great downpour and thunder while lightning lit the plastic sheets stretched over the window spaces. Oddly, it all felt elemental and reassuring and that something positive could now happen.”