The Language of…

Luck me to have a photo with artist Christine Hanlon.
Lucky me to have a photo with artist Christine Hanlon.

Two exhibits got this lady out of the creative den last week.  Two artists that have dedicated their lives to their practice but have contrasting stylistic pieces showcased in two very different locations.  Christine Hanlon is displayed at the Richmond Art Center and Amy Trachtenberg at the former lobby of the Bank of America building in downtown San Francisco.

Christine Hanlon is part of a group exhibition titled The Language of Realism curated by John Wehrle. The show also included artists Michael Beck, Anthony Holdsworth, and John Rampley.  Ms. Hanlon is a fellow instructor at the Academy of Art University and one of most thoughtful persons I know.  Her resume is impressively long with quality exhibitions including the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Berkeley Art Center, Coos Art Museum, and many more.

Oil Spill off Alcatraz is so good it makes you think.
Oil Spill off Alcatraz is so good it makes you think.

The above piece was one of my favorites because it juxtaposes the relationship between nature and man.  According to Hanlon’s website: “In my recent work, the consequences of our economic/environmental policies has crept back into my work, as my focus has turned to oil tankers in distress (“Death of an Oil Tanker: Prestige 1976-2002”) and the imagery of big ships.  The series entitled Import/Export included cargo ships, which became the focus of political dissent in the spring of 2003, when the ILWU strikes at the Oakland container shipyards attracted national attention over the issues of peaceful protest and domestic security.”  Hanlon’s work pushes past the “pretty picture” to match that designer sofa and creates an extended dialogue beyond the viewer’s comfort level.

Towering over me at 555 California Street.
Towering on the approach to great art…

A few days later, From Here to Timbuktu: 25 Years of Painting was the destination at 555 California Street in San Francisco.  The Amy Trachtenberg exhibition is worth the visit and challenge despite the understandable heightened safety measures.  A personal viewing can be arranged in advance at through email.  However, I caught a decent interior glimpse of the art due to two friendly security guards on one side of the building.  From the lobby’s exhibition description: “My work is made in a constant feedback loop that blurs boundaries between the studio, between painting and three-dimensional work and with the rest of the world.  I am compelled by contradictions.  Within a shifting grammar of abstraction, I am inside of conversations with the ancient, the political, with natural and man-made sites and with my artist peers and our antecedents…”

First impression.
First impression.

Trachtenberg’s resume showcases an amazing diversity from the San Jose Museum of Art to the Milpitas BART station.  She was also part of the Factor XX exhibit I curated at the Art Museum of Los Gatos.  If 25 years of paintings looks this good, I’m looking forward to seeing the next.

Amazing from far away and up close...
Greatness at any distance…

Both exhibits might be from here to Timbuktu but the quality was the same.  Two women with diverse backgrounds who shared the same language.  It proved that quality does take time.  Opportunities to view exhibitions like this can’t be missed because they can’t be recreated.  Hanlon and Trachtenberg’s body of work proves that point.

The Language of Realism, Richmond Art Center. January 11 to March 9, 2014.

From Here to Timbuktu: 25 Years of Painting, 555 California Street Plaza Gallery, on view through March 8, 2014.

The links: