What I’ve learned

January 12, 2012 § 2 Comments

An old friend — a prominent and prosperous lawyer — passed through town a few weeks ago. We had dinner at The Big Four on Nob Hill. I wrote to thank him for a pleasant evening and asked the great man how he would sum up what he had learned in his long and successful life about what really matters, and what advice he could offer.

His reply, in its entirety:

What really matters: Family and friends.
What have I learned: Didn’t take enough risks.
What advice do I have: Take them.

A six week experiment

October 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

Lafayette Park Light | Veerakeat Tongpaiboon

At his MFA graduate exhibition in 1994, a young painter named Veerakeat Tongpaiboon met Thomas Reynolds, a lawyer-publisher with an interest in art — and in the Fillmore neighborhood. When Reynolds learned the aspiring artist also lived in the neighborhood and featured it in many of his paintings, he rented a small space for six weeks to exhibit Veerakeat’s paintings. That six-week experiment has turned into a long-term partnership.

Read more: “From Thailand With Talent

Love lives on

July 14, 2008 § Leave a comment


WAY BACK in 1990, when we were married in Paris, we saw Daniel Levigoureux’s paintings in a gallery on rue Jacob, on the Left Bank. Gallery hours being flexible as they are, we never managed to find Galerie Philippe Fregnac open again while we were there. But we had a postcard, and the work stayed with us. Finally, three years later, we tracked down Daniel in a small town in the north of France and bought the painting we had treasured on the postcard.

Now, many years later, I have a gallery of my own and things have come full circle. I am pleased to present Daniel Levigoureux’s work in San Francisco.


Success — half a century later

April 30, 2005 § Leave a comment

Henry Villierme: becoming a hot commodity

San Francisco Chronicle

Henry Villierme was on the fast track to becoming one of the new painting stars emerging from the Bay Area Figurative Group in the late 1950s. He was so promising that he took a first prize at a 1957 art exhibition in Richmond while future famed artists Richard Diebenkorn, Nathan Oliveira and David Park received just honorable mentions.

But unlike his contemporaries, Villierme never made that leap to worldwide recognition. Instead, he moved to Southern California to be closer to his wife’s family and raised his four children while earning money in different odd jobs.

“I never really left painting,” Villierme said by phone from his home in Ojai. “I just didn’t show. I was painting to paint.”

Villierme is no longer a no-show. During the last few years, his career has taken off, thanks in part to his agent son Paul and gallery owner Thomas Reynolds.

Read more

Emerging artist: Ken Auster

October 10, 2003 § Leave a comment

Ken Auster | Trinidad Rocks

“I work only in oils,” says Ken Auster, “and my paintings are very juicy, very loose and very of-the-moment.”

Auster believes there are two aspects to painting: the intellectual and the passionate. “You have to think about what it is you’re painting ahead of time,” he says. “Then, when you paint, you can leave your brain at the door. When you’re thinking of other things and not of the painting itself, you create your best works — those that are spontaneous, unpredictable and honest.”

Stuart Katz, a voracious art collector, strolled into Auster’s atudio unannounced in 1996. Katz, who spent years searching colleges and galleries for undiscovered talent, changed Auster’s career with four words: “This is really good.”

Bolstered by Katz’s approval, Auster took transparencies of his work to several San Francisco galleries. Most merely went through the motions, but Thomas Reynolds, owner of Thomas Reynolds Gallery, was impressed with Auster’s style and technique and requested more examples. Still fearing rejection, Auster procrastinated. Fortunately, Reynolds persisted, and the day after he received Auster’s packet he decided to stage an exhibition of the artist’s work. In 1997, “The California Coast” became the first of five sold-out shows.

Lawyers turned artists

February 12, 1996 § 1 Comment

San Francisco Chronicle

It’s a common curse of being a lawyer: the nagging urge to be something else. Though most ignore it, many succumb, often by trying to become the next John Grisham.

But four former Bay Area attorneys are taking a different tack. They’ve become artists, and they’re showing their work at San Francisco’s Thomas Reynolds Gallery — and Reynolds, it turns out, is also a recovering lawyer.

Here’s the surprising news: All four artists are really good.

Not that they weren’t good lawyers, too. Mary Dunlap was one of San Francisco’s most prominent civil rights attorneys. But in 1991, after finishing a high-profile discrimination case against the San Francisco Fire Department, she was exhausted. “I was a workaholic,” she says, “and it got to the point where I needed to do other things that had really been neglected.” She’s still a legal consultant on public interest cases, but most of her time is spent creating colorful monoprints of birds and fish and self-portraits.

Sarita Waite | Bear Cubs, Marin Circle Fountain, Berkeley

Sarita Waite | Bear Cubs, Marin Circle Fountain, Berkeley

Her colleague, Sarita Camille Waite, practiced family law in Berkeley for 17 years until 1987, when she turned to sculpture. Much of her work is small bronze figures, but she’s working now on a fountain for Marin Circle in North Berkeley.

A third artist, Jerome Carlin, founded the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation in 1966. But for the past 25 years, he has painted California landscapes, some of which hang in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Jerome Carlin | Rand's View, 1994

Jerome Carlin | Rand’s View, 1994

The fourth in the group is Jody Joseph, former head of the San Francisco Bar Association’s legal services program. Now she paints portraits, landscapes and still lifes in a cubist style.

All but Carlin say they loved practicing law, but for various reasons had to get out. “I had no alternative,” says Joseph. “Otherwise it would have been a half-lived life.”

She’s in good company. Reynolds says a lot of famous artists left the law, including the French post-Impressionist master Paul Cezanne. What made him make the move? Maybe it was the advice from his friend, novelist Emile Zola: “One thing or the other — really be a lawyer, or else be an artist, but do not remain a creature without a name, wearing a toga dirtied by paint.”

Read more: Jerome Carlin: The two sides of my brain

Small rooms, vivid art

July 10, 1995 § Leave a comment


Jack Cassinetto | Russian River Redwoods

The air is hot, the meter maids are swarming like angry wasps and I’m wandering the Western Addition to see what’s burning. My first stop is the Thomas Reynolds Gallery at 2291 Pine Street, once a private residence that’s now a well-adapted space of small rooms and vivid art.

Reynolds is a pleasant and enthusiastic mover of his artists, a favorite seeming to be Veerakeat Tongpaiboon, a Thai immigrant still overwhelmed by the sheer joy of his paints, and the architectural and line possibilities of rooftops and streets. Bold color and a strong sense of space fill these exuberant pieces of town.

Tasty pieces of furniture quietly inhabit the rooms. A small space in back, reminiscent of the Dutch Masters room of the de Young, features a collection of contemporary landscapes in turn-of-the-century style by Jack Cassinetto. These beautifully framed impressions of eucalyptus and warm foliage help define the ambiance of this friendly, intimate gallery.

— BANA WITT, Western Edition

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