December 14, 2021 § Leave a comment
ONE DAY IN THE mid-90s, not long after I opened my gallery, in the door one afternoon walked the great sculptor Manuel Neri — quite a thrill for a new gallery owner interested in California art.
“Is this where my old roommate Hank Villierme is showing?” he asked.
We’d recently opened a major exhibition of Henry Villierme’s paintings, his first in ages. Villierme had been a rising star, one of a dozen artists included in the seminal 1957 Bay Area figurative exhibition at the Oakland Museum, before he disappeared from the art scene and went to work for a living. Villierme and Neri were roommates while they both attended what was then the California College of Arts and Crafts, a major site of artistic ferment in that era.
I was too star-struck to remember much of the conversation with Neri. But later I showed Villierme a picture I’d run across of him and Neri back when they were roommates. Henry took a look and smiled. “Probably a six-pack under my arm,” he said.
— Thomas Reynolds
MORE: “Neri first exhibited on Fillmore“
May 3, 2019 § 2 Comments
Q & A | PAMELA FEINSILBER
For two decades he ran the Thomas Reynolds Gallery, an elegant, welcoming art gallery just off Fillmore Street. Since 2015, Thomas Reynolds has exhibited art online and privately by appointment. When a jewel of a space at 1906 Fillmore became available a couple of years ago, he organized a pop-up exhibition. And now, until the end of June, he’s showing art there again.
We met when you were my boss as editor and publisher of California Lawyer magazine. The next thing I knew, you had an art gallery. How did that happen?
I got interested in art and design as a young lawyer in Chicago, going to the Art Institute on Thursday nights. When I came to California Lawyer, we always aimed for strong covers — we even had a Gauguin on the cover once when we wrote about litigation over the bequest that created the Armand Hammer Museum in L.A. I think you edited that story. Through the magazine, I met some wonderful, just-emerging contemporary California painters. Francis Livingston and James Stagg both painted early covers of California Lawyer, and both were in my first gallery show, in 1994.
What made you decide to open a gallery?
I happened into the graduate exhibition of a young painter who lived near Fillmore, Veerakeat Tongpaiboon. His family owned Neecha, the Thai restaurant then at Sutter and Steiner, and many of his paintings were of this area. I lived here, too, and had already fallen in love with the neighborhood. On a lark, I rented the three-room Victorian space at 2291 Pine Street to show Veerakeat’s paintings, and those of a few other artists I admired. I had a six-week lease — it was to be one exhibition, not a new venture.
I loved it — both being surrounded by art and becoming more involved in the neighborhood. And people loved Veerakeat’s paintings. His first three shows sold out and he was able to buy a home nearby, where he still lives and paints. I found a lot of satisfaction in helping launch the careers of some incredibly talented painters who’ve had great success.
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
April 24, 2017 § Leave a comment
BAY AREA ARTISTS Kim Frohsin and Sandy Ostrau discuss the Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibition, the Bay Area Figurative Movement and other influences on their work, in conversation with the Smithsonian Institution’s Paul Karlstrom.
February 19, 2017 § Leave a comment
Q & A | KIM FROHSIN
What is the creative process like for you?
To date it’s one in which one series or interest will somehow, in a deeply intuitive and subliminal way, lead naturally into the next work. To me, it seems like an innate flow and natural transition typifies my modus operandi over the last 29 years. There have certainly been times when my art is directly influenced by life circumstances or my reaction to those circumstances. Life on a personally intimate scale or on a large scale — for example, the death of my dog, or my reaction to 9/11. The art can serve sometimes as documentation, therapy or an emotional necessity for self-expression; the art simply emerges, life translated into imagery.
November 6, 2016 § Leave a comment
By MATT GONZALEZ
For several years in the early 1950s, Paul Wonner returned to a subject matter in his art making practice: the painting of a still life with femme au coq, translated from the French as woman with rooster. Anyone familiar with modern European painting would recognize the motif as it was explored by many artists, including Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall. The trope presents the rooster as a symbol of sexuality, virility and fertility. Paired with the woman, it exalts romantic love and the heterosexual coupling traditionally associated with marriage.
It is curious that Wonner would find the subject matter interesting enough to return to it over the years — at least four known times in a four- to five-year period — while he was a student at U.C. Berkeley. Of course, painters often return to the same landscape, or paint a subject’s portrait repeatedly, but the painting of a subject that is so allegorical and laden with symbolism is not as common. It suggests Wonner was intrigued by or wrestling with its meaning in connection with his own life and art.
March 7, 2015 § 1 Comment
By PERI SCHWARTZ
It all began when John Seed, the art blogger for the Huffington Post and a Facebook friend, posted his interview with Sandy Ostrau. Her exhibition was at the Thomas Reynolds Gallery in San Francisco and the work captivated me. As a painter, I feel connected with the artists from the Bay Area and am strongly influenced by Richard Diebenkorn’s figurative work. Here was a gallery showing work that I related to.
I became FB friends with the gallery and loved what Thomas posted. Along with posts about work he was exhibiting, he put up interesting articles and photographs. I certainly would have missed the talk Gretchen Diebenkorn gave about her father if he hadn’t posted a link.
When he posted the painting “Inside Move” by Ken Auster in December, I shared it on FB. My cousin Charles in Boston fell in love with the painting, especially because it reminded him of a bar he used to go to in lower Manhattan. He showed it to Jackie, his wife. Charles’ birthday was approaching and Jackie wanted to buy him the painting as a surprise. I encouraged her, she called the gallery, and now they have a beautiful painting by Ken Auster in their living room.
February 19, 2015 § Leave a comment
By JONATHAN CURIEL
The 10 million people who read the June 8, 1962, issue of Life magazine saw an America that was undergoing profound cultural shifts. More people than ever were worried about weight gain (Kellogg’s advertised a cereal “for common sense weight control”). More people than ever were flying abroad (“Americans in a new age of world travel,” read one article teaser). And more people than ever were considering the art world’s “current resurgence of the figure in painting,” as the magazine labeled the trend.
Life devoted eight full pages to the art-world development, paying close attention to the work of Bay Area painters Elmer Bischoff, Paul Wonner, Richard Diebenkorn and David Park, whose featured painting in Life, “Woman with Coffeepot,” offered an unforgettable image: A woman both beautiful and monstrous, whose body was a pastiche of thick, colorful paint strokes that were like bandages on a burn victim. Park, who painted “Woman with Coffeepot” in 1958, was straddling the line between abstraction and representation. The people in Park’s paintings from this period seemed half-finished and even primitive, as if they were a race of human sculptures trying to find form.
October 9, 2014 § 1 Comment
By KENNETH BAKER
San Francisco Chronicle
Charles Campbell, a San Francisco gallery owner who represented major Bay Area contemporary artists for more than 60 years, died of natural causes Friday [October 3, 2014] at his San Francisco home. He was 99.
Mr. Campbell became famous locally for showing what he liked, irrespective of fashion or potential profit. He happened to admire and exhibit many artists later identified with the region’s signature art movement, Bay Area Figuration. They included Nathan Oliviera (1928-2010), Paul Wonner (1920-2008), Gordon Cook (1927-85), Theophilus “Bill” Brown (1919-2012), James Weeks (1922-98) and Joan Brown (1938-90).
The back room at Mr. Campbell’s gallery was long known to locals as a treasure trove of artistic miscellany. There visitors might pore over an ever-changing array of works on paper and small paintings by American and European artists both famous and obscure, interspersed with Indian miniatures and the odd pre-Columbian or African artifact.
Nothing comparable exists, or perhaps could exist, in the supercharged and economically polarized art market of today.