The art of judges
March 16, 2023 § Leave a comment
WE HAD A VISIT the other day from Jim and Carole Ward, who were in town for a few days from Riverside. Jim — more formally the Honorable Justice James D. Ward, now retired from California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal — is one of a number of judges who have become friends of the gallery over the years.
In a previous lifetime, when I was editor and publisher of California Lawyer magazine, Jim was a prominent lawyer who had argued and won two important First Amendment cases in the U.S. Supreme Court — and a voluble and valuable member of our editorial board. After a meeting, while sharing a meal, we confided our itch for new adventures.
One evening a couple of years later, a friend and I stopped into the beautiful Redwood Room in the Clift Hotel, and there was Jim, having a drink at the bar. I went over to say hello, and he was as affable as ever. (He later told me he had also been approached in the Redwood Room by a lady of the evening, offering companionship.) It turned out we had both found our new adventures: I had opened an art gallery and Jim had gotten himself appointed to the appellate court.
He was enthusiastic about my new life, and he and Carole would sometimes visit the gallery when they were in San Francisco. They bought one of Ken Auster’s early landscape paintings, of June Lake in the Sierra, where Carole’s family had often vacationed. Across the years and miles, Jim and I have kept in touch and occasionally swapped stories.
Much of the gallery’s clientele has come from the legal world, especially in the early days. That was my world, too. One of my first exhibitions, in 1995, was titled “Lawyers Turned Artists.” A few years later, when I made a documentary about the California Supreme Court, I was pleased to find a work from my gallery displayed in the chambers of Chief Justice Ronald M. George.
In fact, my final visitor before we left San Francisco in 2020 was another lawyer who recently had been appointed to the bench, collecting for his new chambers John Payne’s historic painting of the cable cars that once ran past Alta Plaza Park. I was moved when he told me, soon after he became Judge Michael B. McNaughton: “It makes me want to be a better person.” As he was leaving, I wished him well on the bench and told him how much I had enjoyed his visits and friendship over the years.
“Are you kidding?” he responded. “You enriched my life.”
— Thomas R. Reynolds
7 secrets of collecting art
March 25, 2021 § Leave a comment
By LYNDA MILLNER
There’s something new at 1331 State Street: the Thomas Reynolds Gallery, near the Arlington Theater. The gallery was founded in 1994 in San Francisco in the Pacific Heights neighborhood and was known for contemporary California art and artists. I met with Thomas Reynolds the other day and he shared some of his knowledge about how to become a collector on all sizes of budgets — or, as he calls it, “passing through the post-poster phase into the promised land of original art.”
Read more: “A new gallery opens in Santa Barbara“
My first brush with art
March 4, 2018 § 2 Comments
FIRST PERSON | THOMAS R. REYNOLDS
Sarah Segrest taught 7th grade English and Holmes County French. She was the first touch of culture that came into my young life as a country kid growing up in the backwoods, and my first brush with art.
At the rear of her room she had a display space for her flower arrangements, usually featuring camellias in the winter from her garden. She was an artist, and an ever-changing show of her paintings lined the walls. Plus, she had an air conditioner when no one else did — no small attraction in our farm town in the heart and the heat of the Florida Panhandle.
Mrs. Segrest was just the right combination of nurturing and challenging for 7th graders, no longer in elementary school but not quite teenagers yet. When I got to 9th grade and had her again for French class, her elevated aesthetic sensibilities became ever more obvious. French! With a southern accent.
By the time I had graduated a few times and had an opportunity to try out my French in France, I had also moved to Chicago, far from home. As I got more interested in art, I wanted something real to go along with my posters. I thought of Mrs. Segrest, and wrote her a letter asking if I could visit on my next trip back home and possibly acquire one of her paintings.
And so I did. She and Dr. Segrest lived in a secluded 10-acre woodland just south of town that was thick with hundreds of camellia bushes. Their home was filled with her paintings. I especially liked a still life of a watermelon she had just finished.
“Well, you may not want to pay what my teacher says it’s worth,” she warned me: $100.
It was my first original oil, and the subject matter made it a perfect way to remember her and home. I had also been attracted to a earlier painting of persimmons — especially after she said that another favorite teacher, Mrs. Gavin, who taught 10th grade biology, had brought her those persimmons. As I wrote the check and claimed my prize, Mrs. Segrest took the canvasboard with the persimmon painting on it and tucked it unnoticeably inside the back of the framed watermelon painting. “Dr. Segrest doesn’t like me to give them away,” she whispered.
A few years later, as the art bug was taking hold, I went to see Mrs. Segrest again on another trip back home and asked if I might buy my mother one of her paintings as a Christmas gift. She suggested an oval of roses. After mother died, I reclaimed it for myself — and now it reminds me of them both.
Reynolds, who opened the Thomas Reynolds Gallery in San Francisco in 1994, credits Sarah Segrest with stimulating his early interest in art.
Searching for the Pyramid of Cats
September 20, 2016 § 2 Comments
AN EMAIL ARRIVES:
I am looking for a print of Pyramid of Cats by Marion Seawell. I have found you through a strange set of circumstances. Stranger still is that this story may sound a bit familiar.
My grandfather had a print of Pyramid of Cats hanging in his home for as long as I can remember. He used to teach me how to draw those cats, and partially due to his influence I became an artist and gallery curator. When I think of my grandfather, this is the image I see. When he died, my uncle threw away most of grandpa’s stuff and the poster was lost. I was crushed, but at least my parents still had many of my grandfather’s things, so we still had some good sentimental family heirlooms.
However, I’ve never stopped looking for that poster. The only thing is, I had no idea who the artist was, what the title was, if it was an original drawing or a poster. Nothing. So no matter how I searched, I never found anything.
Fast forward 25+ years to this summer. My parents retired, packed up everything they owned and moved across the country. Only the moving truck never arrived. It was stolen, along with everything they owned. We were absolutely devastated — 70 years of collecting and memories gone. As I tried to help my parents pick up the pieces, I thought again of this poster.
So I went on Facebook and reached out to my cat lovers group and asked everyone if they could help me keep an eye out for it based on my foggy recollection of what it looked like 25+ years ago. Not only did someone find it within 10 minutes, but she found it in connection to an article written by one of your clients. Reading her story sounded so much like my situation it was a little strange; at one point I wondered if we had the same grandpa.
Her story was really inspiring and started out similar to mine. It also led me to you. So I wanted to reach out to you and see if you have one of these posters or know of someone who might be interested in selling.
EARLIER: “Pyramid of Cats“
From a local collection
March 3, 2016 § Leave a comment
MOST OF THE paintings now on view in Pierre Bonnard: Painting Arcadia at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco traveled from international destinations — many from the d’Orsay Museum in Paris.
But not all. Two from the Ann and Gordon Getty Collection only had to travel across town. Above, at left center, Bonnard’s The Two Carriages is pictured before the exhibition began in its usual place in the Gettys’ living room.
MORE: “Inside the Getty mansion“
Stories of the collection
March 5, 2014 § 1 Comment
‘The message was what moved me’
March 3, 2014 § 1 Comment
FIRST PERSON | JAN HOLLOWAY
I came to an art career at midlife. After raising four children, I took some art history courses and the docent training course at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. It was especially fun introducing school children to the museum.
Then, my interest piqued, I set out to be a part of the commercial art world.
In 1980, I was hired by the well-established Maxwell Galleries in the heart of San Francisco’s art scene near Union Square. It was a turning point for me. Maxwell’s afforded an opportunity to become acquainted with a wide range of American and European art from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was also a terrific place to learn the business of running an art gallery from Mark Hoffman, the owner of Maxwell Galleries, who was a genial gentleman and a seasoned pro.
Armed with that valuable experience and my husband Maurice’s support, I went out on my own. At first I worked as a private dealer from our home in San Francisco. Eventually I found a little storefront on Francisco Street in North Beach and opened a gallery there in 1988. Within a year or so, I had become acquainted with artists who had worked on the Coit Tower murals and began showing their work. Then more and more art of the 1930s and early 1940s came into my inventory.
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The Jan Holloway Collection
March 3, 2014 § 1 Comment
REVIEW | COLETTE TANAKA
For nearly 20 years Jan Holloway worked in the San Francisco gallery community, where she developed a niche exhibiting California artists of the early 20th century. The exhibition history of her gallery would reveal the names of prominent artists, but more important were the many exhibitions that shed light on careers forgotten or overshadowed.
Now she is sharing her personal collection in a book and exhibition called “Good Times – Hard Times,” which consists primarily of the work of the generation of artists active in San Francisco between the two world wars. This group vividly represents two significant changes in the art world, one artistic, the other social and cultural.
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Tonalism in the Holloway collection
March 2, 2014 § Leave a comment
Jan Holloway writes, in Good Times, Hard Times: I became very interested in the California Tonalist painters — Arthur Mathews, early Granville Redmond, Charles Rollo Peters. The subdued limited palette and soft light were poetic to me.
She keeps giving
March 20, 2020 § 2 Comments
FIRST PERSON | THOMAS REYNOLDS
WE HAVE BEEN sustained on the mornings of the first week of the great lockdown of 2020 by a loaf of Irish soda bread, left with a neighborly note at our front door on St. Patrick’s Day.
This was unexpected, since March 17 was the first day those of us in San Francisco were ordered to stay inside — and also because our neighbor who baked it, Suzanne Burwasser, died last year.
Suzanne was a great baker, and soda bread was one of her specialties. A couple of St. Patrick’s Days ago, I went to check the gallery mailbox at Jet Mail. Kevin, the manager, saw me open the box and take out the usual assortment of bills and notices. “Just a minute,” he called out as I started to leave. “There’s something else.” He reached under the counter and pulled out a loaf of soda bread, which Suzanne had dropped off and asked him to pass along.
As I walked home, I ran into Kenyatta, the much-loved letter carrier for our part of the neighborhood, who always has a friendly greeting and a warm smile. “Hey baby,” she said, “whatcha smiling about?”
“We live in such a great neighborhood,” I replied, as we exchanged our customary hug. “I just checked our box at Jet Mail and got this loaf of soda bread from Suzanne Burwasser.”
She reached into her mail bag and pulled out another loaf.
“I got one too!” she said.
Suzanne and her husband, George, have always been among the most neighborly people in our little village. They have been great patrons of our gallery and of many other local businesses in our neighborhood. Suzanne died last year after a fast and ferocious battle with pancreatic cancer. George said she continued to bake, even during her illness, leaving a freezer full of goodies.
She keeps on sharing from the great beyond.
EARLIER: “The art of neighborliness“