It was gallery openings galore resulting in a visual panacea in the Bay Area last week.  Normally, I avoid the crowds and visit the galleries during the week to allow the artwork to “breathe” without the irritation of the masses.  However, some of the artists exhibiting were colleagues and friends.

Since 1993, San Francisco art galleries open the doors to the public to showcase the newest exhibitions on the first Thursday evening of each month.  Because the time frame of the First Thursday open house is limited to a few hours, I was only able to visit 3 galleries out of a million (couldn’t find an exact number) with always the intention to see more.

First stop was Hang Art Gallery and the exhibition titled Kaleidoscope featured the artists Kelly DeFayette, Peter Dimick, and DAVe Warnke.  Compositional pattern and the use of dynamic color played together in harmony at the gallery to delight and engage.  DISCLOSURE ALERT: Ms. DeFayette and Mr. Warnke’s pieces hang proudly in my home.  In particular, DeFayatte’s newest multi-panel pieces expand the conventional square and leaving me to imagine the installations growing in scale by beautifully infecting large-scale public spaces like a lobby or ceiling.

Kelly DeFayette's engaging art.
Kelly DeFayette’s engaging art.

Next stop was Dolby Chadwick Gallery and the solo exhibit of Suhas Bhujbal.  His works are stylized with flat color marks resulting in abstractions of architecture and people.  According to the gallery’s website: “Within Bhujbal’s matrices of tightly interlocking shapes, glimpses of vibrant undercolors, unhampered drips of paint, windows that obscure views in, and abstracted facial features all work to suggest something more complex and enigmatic.”  DISCLOSURE ALERT: Mr Bhujbal and I attended graduate school at the same time.  In his newest works, it’s wonderful to see the exploration of figures within his signature architectural painting style.  Overall, the exhibition was full of martinis, admirers, and colors.

The clock was ticking to closing and the last stop was The Time is Now exhibit at the John Berggruen Gallery featuring Doug Aitken, Ed Ruscha, Phillip Guston, James Rosenquist, Darren Almond, Vera Lutter, Michael Craig-Martin, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and Linda Ridgway.  The “blue chip” gallery is immaculate, pristine, and bright in presentation.  No surprise that the exhibit’s presentation was precise, concise, and dreamy.  DISCLOSURE ALERT:  The $850,000 Philip Guston painting has no chance in hell hanging in my home.  Despite it’s amazing stature, my bank account will never have enough to cover that bill.

Friday night was Oakland Art Murmur night where 21 galleries and 9 additional venues open their spaces to the public (hipsters and more) for the evening.  OAM is the different and interesting cousin to San Francisco’s First Thursday crowd.  Closed streets, performers, singers, crafts, artists, food vendors, and protesters were in attendance.

Manna Gallery, Photo, The Wall Gallery, Slate Contemporary, Vessel Gallery, Oakopolis/The Moon, Mercury 20, and others were stops on this visit.  Of particular note was the Mari Andrews exhibit titled Gathering Gravity at Chandra Cerrito Contemporary.  The installation artist’s work screamed with interest and engagement while other exhibits murmured quietly.  DISCLOSURE ALERT: My art collection includes a tiny “leaf” piece of Ms. Andrews that extends from the wall and casts different shadows throughout the day.  She’s a bay area treasure…

Doesn't get much better than Mari Andrew's art.
Doesn’t get much better than Mari Andrew’s art.

In the middle of all the scattered galleries, Broadway Street was closed down to host food venders to various street artists.  Wading through the eclectic crowd, I encountered artist Jon-Paul Bail selling prints and posters.  DISCLOSURE ALERT:  My husband and I discovered his art at the Oakland Art Museum’s annual White Elephant Sale which is Northern California’s biggest rummage sale.  Bail donated 3 pieces to support the museum and its programs.

The art of Jon-Paul Bail.
The art of Jon-Paul Bail.

Overall, San Francisco’s First Thursdays and Oakland’s First Fridays exposes the masses to art, encourages dialogue, and improves the critical discourse within an artist’s practice.  It was good to see old faces, meet new ones, and explore.  Oh so very lucky to live in an area that supports and celebrates the diversity in creativity.  Here’s to many more art openings that engage, inspire, and kick ass.  DISCLOSURE ALERT: If still alive and kicking, there will never be enough time to see all the art but it’s worth a good try…

The links:

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