East Is East, and West Is San Francisco*

- 03rd of Oct. 2010 -

...what attracted me more in San Francisco were the small galleries, representing young contemporary artists...

So its been a while since Ive sat down to write a post. It seems that much like my inability to read a book during the first few weeks of school, I am also unable to write. My brain needs adjustment time before it can allocate cells towards anything other than the four different papers I have to do by the end of semester. It seems much easier for those grey cells to get lost in a movie or a silly TV show than to get busy with a second intelligent thought…

Anyway, now that Im a couple of weeks into the semester, it is time to exercise and flex those cells and write a post. What I wanted to address this time is the old story of East-coast art


Andy Warhol, Edie Sedgwick and the Empire State Building, 1965, David McCabe, Collection of the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh.

Vs. West-coast art.


Ed Ruscha, Standard Station, 1966.

Recently, My darling husband and I went on a long weekend in San Francisco. While we were there we visited galleries and the SFMoMA and what we saw only strengthened what I already knew - that there is a massive difference, not only between the subjects and mediums east and west coast artists seem to choose, but also between what is shown, especially when it comes to museums. The SFMoMA Anniversary show is full of mainly local artists, most of whom, I am sad to say, Ive never heard of before coming there. That is purely my fault for not taking a more avid interest before, but it is also something you dont really hear about, going to school in New York. We were taught the minimum - about how Andy Warhols first gallery show was in LA, about Ed Ruscha, Hockney and about Womanhouse, all within the boundaries of half a class dealing with late Modern Art.

This made me think of how much, even as an art student in New York, I am not really exposed to. On paper, there is so much to see in New York, so many places that expose us to the best (and worse) of the contemporary local art scene, so many places that display the best (and worse) of the art world over the last decades, centuries and millennia. All we have to do is get out there and see it, right? But we miss out on so much that is happening in other places, near and far. That is why, this year, my last year at school, Ive set a goal for myself. I will be exploring as much art outside of New York as I possibly can.

But lets get back to San Francisco. The galleries in San Francisco seem to center around different kinds of artists and art. Ive discussed this in a previous post - Between Illustration and Art and my visit there just made my opinion about these things stronger. While in New York, a gallery show of contemporary art is considered a success mostly if youve managed to shock the audience by creating a new medium out of your own bowl movements or whatever the homeless guy in the corner left behind, it seems that in San Francisco, and I suspect this is the case in LA as well, the emphasis is on innovation of a different kind.  There is less of a shock me shock me value and more of a basic beauty of art value to it. San Francisco has always been one to innovate, to start new movements and cultivate new thought and action.  The same is happening there with art - there is innovation, there is new thought, there are people who dare to deal with beauty, with the value of color and with a certain aesthetic - all things that I often miss in new East Coast art.

Here, take a look, you be the judge. These are some of my favorites from the trip. I am consciously excluding the SFMoMA from this - I feel that while the museum’s collection as it is presented in the 75th Anniversary show is quite amazing, what attracted me more in San Francisco were the small galleries, representing young contemporary artists who are the real innovators at the moment.


Joshua Petker, Untitled 1, Shooting Gallery, San Francisco.


Jessica Hess, Patek Ecklon, White Walls Gallery, San Francisco.

Sadly, White Walls and Shooting Gallery were closed prepping for new shows, so I only got to see what they had to offer online. I love the introduction of color.


Yosiell Lorenzo (Project Detonate), Why Are You Wearing a Stupid Man Suit?, inspired by Donny Darko, Gallery 1988, San Francisco.


Jeremiah Ketner, Death Is Whimsical Today, inspired by The Professional, Gallery 1988, San Francisco.

This little show and this brand new San Francisco extension of the LA Gallery 1988 was called Crazy 4 Cult and included little sculptured versions of cult movie figures. There were Big Lebowski Russian dolls, a wooden Goblin King from The Labyrinth and a Back to The Future Dr. Emmet Brown Vinyl Moony doll.


Kate-Eric, Bug War Over Blue Mountain, 2008, Frey Norris Gallery, San Francisco.

On the second floor of a magnificently tranquil and friendly Frey Norris Gallery, was this massive and so perfectly detailed piece. Kate-Eric are a due that produces some of what I see as the most innovative works available today, on both grand and small scales.


James Watts, Sky Fields, Sandra Lee Gallery, San Francisco.

This show, Profound Intimacy, at the Sandra Lee Gallery tapped into my emotion, and I cant really tell why. Maybe it had something to do with the rust and the treatment of paint, maybe it had something to do with how the entire gallery was filled, looking almost like it had been invaded, with ruined with rusting bugs and tree limbs. In any case, this is someone to follow up on.


Eric Cone, Hold, Hespe Gallery, San Francisco.


Mimi Jensen, The Jester, 2007, Hespe Gallery, San Francisco.

The Hespe Gallery seems to be dealing mostly with hyper realistic and figurative painting and some photography. This, naturally, made it an immediate favorite for me.

Thats it for this post; I hope you enjoyed it and I would love to hear what you think and if you have anything to say. Leave a comment!

* O. Henry.




Comments - 1

So what do you think? The world wants to know!

Aria Khosh sirat

December 07, 2010

I loved every little thing that you have written about!

FYI - I reserve the right to remove off-topic, anonymous comment or just plain crap. So please be civil.

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