Saturday, November 5, 2011

Here Comes the Sculpture for Relaunch Part II

The video above shows Crucible founder, Michael Sturtz, setting up his amazing Atomic Blender sculpture which is sooo much fun seen in person!  

Jose Fernandez also arrived today with his incredible bronze sculpture Struggle and Stanislav Szukalski's emotional Defense.  Our Relaunch Part II group show grew to include 21 artists with the addition of Gabrielle Curry and her stunning bronze dinosaur The Listener.  

We're sorry to come to the end of our 21 artist show Relaunch Part I, but Part II, the all-sculpture show following on its heels takes our breath away too!

Relaunch Part II opens with a reception on Saturday November 12, 4-8pm.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Laurie Lipton

We're thrilled to present two Laurie Lipton detailed works as part of our Relaunch Part I show at Varnish.
Monday Morning (doors closed)

Laurie Lipton's vast and eerily memorable drawings have been widely recognized for their sublime references to life's predicaments. Portrayed with teeth-clenching humor and consummate skill, her work is rich in imagination, artistry and social awareness. Laurie has been drawing since the age of four and has developed her own technique inspired by the 16th Century Flemish Masters: using thousands of tiny lines, like the brush strokes in an egg-tempera painting, to build-up tone and form.
Monday Morning (doors opened)

The subjects of her art -- fear, politics, sexuality, murder, mayhem, greed, indifference -- are timelessly classic yet relentlessly up to date. She was the first person to graduate from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pennsylvania with a Fine Arts Degree in Drawing (with honours). She has lived in Holland, Belgium, Germany and France and has made her home in London since 1986. Her work has been exhibited extensively throughout Europe and the USA.

“… but it’s not just her pencil that is sharp, her wit has an equally fine point which comes through in the titles of her detailed drawings.”
- The London Evening Standard
“Technically Lipton is a profound draftsman. She captures nuances of light and shade with masterful proficiency.”
- Artweek
“Her exhibition returns constantly to the theme of social masks while laying bare those deeply harboured fantasies and terrors which belie supposedly “normal” appearances.”
- The Times (London)
“No escapism here; all dark corners are revealed.”
- The Guardian
“Laurie Lipton draws in immaculate pencil with the precision of a brain surgeon. The results are stunning, worrying, funny and, above all, vengeful.”
- Artseen

Hung Up and Over
Laurie Lipton's artwork is truly incredible to experience, especially in person.  Stop by the gallery before November 5th when her drawings and the current exhibition come down.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Folio Fantastico

Isabel Samaras Nutz plate just joined her books on the shelf at the gallery in time for the Gallery Walk tomorrow.  


These plates are fancy, detailed, awesome, silly, wonderful little versions of the original painting hanging in the closing room.  

You can also pick up copies of Isabel's On Tender Hooks and her saucy coloring book.
Isabel Samaras' quirky, sexy, pop-surrealist art has had a cult following for years and now at long last her first monograph, On Tender Hooks, is here. Drawing her influence from classic TV shows and paintings by the Old Masters, for example riffing on Gricault's Raft of the Medusa by replacing the figures with characters from Gilligan's Island Samaras has created a witty, erotic, and surreal body of work.

Chris Mars Tolerance, The Extraordinary Drawings of Laurie Lipton, Robert Williams Through Prehensile Eyes ---just one of several R. Williams' currently on the shelves, Scott Musgrove's The Late Fauna of Early North America are just a few of the fantastic Emporium items on display on the gallery shelves.

Tolerance features 159 of Mars' technically brilliant and emotionally stirring paintings as well as numerous essays by Mars regarding the nexus and symbolism of individual works, offering rare and candid insight into the mind of the artist and the imagined minds of the troubled and triumphant souls who populate his canvases. 

A collection of Robert Williams' most paintings from his first three shows at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery in New York (1999-2005). The images range from Williams' familiar lowbrow and biker culture, stretching deep into a faux science of quantum mechanics leaving the viewer in a world of scientific mind-play. After singlehandedly becoming the model of Lowbrow art, Williams has now penetrated the inner sanctum of the fine arts movement. 

Scott Musgrove unearths previously undiscovered animals through a dedicated and scientifically un-approved practice of zoological impressionism. A lone-star in the field, he ventures where the gray-maned, khaki-clad, anthropologists with ivory walking sticks have not--tunneling beneath freeways and ditch-combing along the rough borders of American mini-malls, in search of undiscovered and, up to this point, at least, extinct animals.  The Late Fauna of Early North America features lush, highly detailed landscapes and up-close encounters with all manner of strange and beautiful creatures. Full color reproductions of his paintings abound, including unique antique frames, custom gold engraved nameplates, carved wooden sculptures, watercolors, ink drawings, and pencil renderings from the field. 

Laurie Lipton's vast and eerily memorable drawings have been widely recognized for their sublime references to life's predicaments. Portrayed with teeth-clenching humor and consummate skill, her work is rich in imagination, artistry and social awareness. Laurie has been drawing since the age of four and has developed her own technique inspired by the 16th Century Flemish Masters: using thousands of tiny lines, like the brush strokes in an egg-tempera painting, to build-up tone and form. The subjects of her art -- fear, politics, sexuality, murder, mayhem, greed, indifference -- are timelessly classic yet relentlessly up to date. Almost all of Laurie's works are black and white, but the book is printed in full color, showcasing over 70 drawings spanning 3 decades. 

The Emporium is always open online, and there you'll find quite a few more publications, ephemera, prints, objet d'art to choose from.  

Still, it's a lot more fun to come in and see it all in person, and for us to see you!  You can get anything you've seen online right here at the gallery.  So if you can't join us on Saturday October 15, 4-7pm for the Yerba Buena Alliance Fall Gallery Walk, then come by when we normally open every Tues.-Sat. 11am to 6pm.  Or, check out the Gallery Walk as we live stream from the gallery.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Relaunched! (Part I)

Thank you so very much to all of our wonderful artists and friends who made it out to the party last Saturday night for our reopening/reception for Relaunch Part I.  A lot of love---and a lot of champagne---flowed throughout the night.  It was like a family reunion after our hiatus from the old digs.  Thomas and his staff aboard the TomKat Asian street food truck provided some seriously delicious food for the Relaunch Part I party.  Thank you TomKat!

The 21 artists in this first of two relaunch exhibits filled the gallery with a rich collection of paintings and drawings, and pulled out all the stops with fabulous new artwork.  We're incredibly lucky to be surrounded by so much talent.  We still have stars in our eyes.  We hope that everyone who came to the party will return for more leisurely chatting so we can catch up for more than the night allowed.This show is up until November 5th, so if you couldn't make it to the opening, there's still time to stop on by.

Special thanks to artist Dylan Sisson for lending us the Monster Photobooth.  We'll be uploading photos snapped by the booth on its very own Facebook page soon.  We also have his wonderful prints available on the Emporium section of our website, and at the gallery too.

Relaunch Part II follows the current exhibit with another large group show, but this time it'll be sculpture.  Please save the date for the reception:  Saturday November 12, 4-8pm.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Here Comes the Monster Photo Booth

Dylan Sisson's Monster Photobooth
Oooh, we just got a first look at the Monster Photo Booth, and it's on its way to the gallery, yay!

Relaunch Part I artist Dylan Sisson created the Monster Photo Booth for the self picture-taking satisfaction of anyone with button-pushing capability.  It is a thing of beauty in itself!  

We're so excited that the booth will be here in time for our first opening reception Saturday September 24, 4-8pm for our Relaunch Part I exhibition of twenty-one artists working in 2D.  

The Monster Photo Booth will be here to snap away at everyone who attends the show reception. This monster doesn't bite, so mark your calendar.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Once more with feeling...

Varnish Fine Art at 16 Jessie Street downtown SF

It's nearly ten years since September 11, 2001, and I've been thinking about it all day.  Each one of us was changed forever in some way by the tragic losses and the life-altering path of such a time in our lives.  We've seen the ability of people to bravely continue after a tragedy and to try living better lives.  Bold steps taken in the aftermath of the events of 9/11 account for the lot in life of a lot of folks, including me.  We are lucky if we can say that we've tried to bring something positive into the world out of so much suffering, because we at least have had that chance.

So many of us were reminded to live the lives we hoped for right now as a way to respect the value of life and to honor those who lost their lives.  The tragedy ten years ago sparked people to come together all over the country---even in New York---for a while at least.  

It was soon after 9/11 that Kerri and I decided that we'd live our dream, and after a lot planning and building we first opened Varnish Fine Art in 2003.  Today is our first day open at our new space at 16 Jessie Street, and we're very grateful to be here.  We're also very grateful for you.  Take care everybody!    

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

We're Now Open by Appointment

It was a very fun--although foggy--Summer remodeling the new gallery space, and we're all quite happy to be here in our new home. We can't wait to see everyone! We're very happy to announce that we are now OPEN by appointment. Regular hours start just after Labor Day. Until then, just give us a call or send us an email to schedule an appointment to see our current show and to find out what's coming down the pike.

Beginning Tuesday September 6th, we'll be open every Tuesday to Saturday from 11am to 6pm.

Had a wonderful morning catching up with some of our first clients and friends from the old digs on Natoma Street who stopped in today to say howdy, and check out our current exhibit.

This show features some of our favorite artwork from the "vault" by painters Jennybird Alcantara, Isabel Samaras, Ron English, and bronze sculptors Michael Maes, Grant Irish and Wayne Shaffer.

It's great to be back!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The New Digs are Coming Along

We're working hard on a massive remodel of our brand new gallery space, and it's coming right along lickety split.  The guys from Dermot Barry Construction and our architect Gi Paoletti make it look easy!  The new digs are officially at 16 Jessie Street, but most folks in San Francisco know the building as 1 Ecker Place.  It's a four story brick building across from Yank Sing which just about everyone says is the best dim sum in the City, though we haven't had a chance to give 'em a try yet. 

The new Varnish Fine Art space is the
commercial suite to the right as you face the lobby doors, and borders Jessie Street.  If you stop by to check our progress, you won't see much because of brown papered windows, but our big QR tags are there for you to link to our news.

As for the glove electrical-taped to a stick?  Well, what can I say but unexplainable things happen when you're in a hurry to reopen, and we can't wait!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Chuck Sperry Rocks the SFMOMA Windows

Around the corner from the entrance to the SFMOMA you'll see a group of three enormous windows, facing Minna Street that are getting rocked hard by Chuck Sperry, Chris Shaw and Ron Donovan for their June 11, 2011 - January 12, 2012 SFMOMA Windows exhibition.  The "Windows Program" uses the SFMOMA Garage's street-level windows located on Natoma and Minna Streets (between Third and New Montgomery Streets) to showcase artwork.  The program, organized by Renee de Cossio of the SFMOMA Artists' Gallery, invites some of the area's most ambitious artists to transform these everyday spaces into compelling exhibitions that the passerby can view round the clock.  In this case, you really will have to swing by at all hours, because some black-light magic happens with the artwork after dark!

Bay Area rock poster art contemporaries Chris Shaw, Chuck Sperry, and Ron Donovan stand out amongst their predecessors in the Bay Area tradition of poster making that spans nearly 50 years.  Through their prolific bodies of work, the masterful artists have brought innovation, invention, and new meaning to this art form.  Each distinctively fuses propaganda, imagery, text, and historical art references with Pop and rock-poster sensibilities to create accessible, relatable imagery that is at once empowering and undeniably populist.

Chuck Sperry is at the cutting edge of silkscreen printmaking and has been instrumental in spreading the modern silkscreen rock poster art form globally.  Both his posters and fine art prints are widely collected and his printmaking skills are sought after by top bands worldwide.  Sperry tours Europe annually, teaching workshops and making poster shows from Bristol to Belgrade.  His tutelage has inspired a new generation of rock poster and silkscreen artists worldwide, including Alexandre D'Huy who apprenticed from The Beaux-Arts of Paris, Malleus Rock Art Lab of Italy, and the British Rock Artists Group of the UK.  Sperry's rock artistry has also appeared in projects for Goldenvoice, Live Nation, Virgin Megastore, Guitar Center, Random House, Harper Collins, Harvard University Press, Nyon, and Wired.  He is prominently featured in the 2009 documentary "American Artifact", which chronicles the rise of American Rock Poster Art.

Chuck Sperry is represented by Varnish Fine Art in San Francisco.

Sperry and Shaw's Minna Street Windows

The Minna Street Windows
A collaborative artwork involving three individually created window installations, Donovan, Shaw, and Sperry layer silkcreen, painting, collage, and mixed media to transform two-dimensional imagery into three-dimensional expression.  Showing reverence for man's communicative nature, they reference the renewal of the idea that art has a purpose.  Sperry's installation Saint Everyone is a figurative post-modern pastiche of Pop, Op and Rock Art---inspired by a rock poster created by The Big Five (Mouse, Wilson, Griffin, Kelly, and Moscoso) for the 20th anniversary of the infamous San Francisco Summer of Love---that celebrates and correlates the spontaneous popular movements that swept the world in 1967 and that have re-emerged in 2011.

The Natoma Street Windows
Temporarily Bound is a "visual improvisation" between Sperry and Shaw.  Its form is drawn from the Asian accordion-style bound scroll to recognize the Pacific Rim as the gathering center of the art world and to emphasize postmodern appropriated multiculturalism.  Sperry and Shaw express a realization of the temporal, time-punctuated nature of street and poster art.  By binding the panels together in monumental book form, the artists create a visual record of events through a modality of time.  Additionally, through binding invention, the contextualization of visual imagery, and a reassigning of representational meaning, the artists transform ephemeral events and experiences by creating a lexicon of shared cultural visual memory.

Monday, May 23, 2011

It's a Wrap

Margaret Bowland, Wedding Cake

Don Morris, Searching for Heroes
The weekend of art fairs in SF just ended, and I have a few favorites from each of the three. ArtMRKT, ArtpadSF and the SF Fine Art Fair distinguished themselves differently with their individual takes on what makes a fair, and depending on one's own particular taste, you'll have a favorite fair and "best of" list all your own. As for myself, ArtMRKT did what a great art fair should, lifting me off my feet while surrounding a large group of folks with some great contemporary artwork in a variety of media and styles displayed expertly in a cool and comfy setting. If I had to choose only one of the many pieces I'd love to own from ArtMRKT I'd happily walk away with Margaret Bowland's gorgeous Wedding Cake, 2009 Oil on Linen, 82"x66". Compared to ArtMRKT, the SF Fine Art Fair felt cold and sparse, although a few galleries shined. Don Morris' Searching for Heroes stopped me in my tracks with thousands of folded comics on a 72"x96" board. Despite this, the SF Fine Art fair at Fort Mason kinda bummed me out for a while, until we made it over to ArtpadSF where all became good in the world once again. The ArtpadSF artwork was often very good, and who doesn't like the Phoenix Hotel! ArtpadSF also had some super-fun music and dance performance, plus video projection at night which made the party. Can't wait for the return of all three fairs next year!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Art Fair Battle Royale

The preview party last night at ArtMRKT was a blast. Dinner beforehand at Skool (delicious) was a short walk in painful heels, and for some reason it felt like we were in Brooklyn. ArtMRKT is an impressive fair with a lot of significant artwork in a very cool set-up. We haven't been to the two other fairs yet---today is the first day they're open---but they'll have to be pretty great to compete in this battle of art fairs. ArtMRKT stands alongside all the best contemporary fairs we've visited in the last few years in the US and Europe, and it had the same vibe but with a cool San Francisco twist. So yay SF, you're on the art map for real this time!
Jen reconciles with Irreconcilable Differences


Jen 'n Kerri in front of the new Varnish Fine Art.

We're super excited about our new gallery space!  Just got the keys yesterday and will start renovations soon for re-opening this Summer.  The "official" re-launch is late September, but we have a lot of special plans for the summer.