Hespe Gallery: How I Spent My Summer


Hespe Gallery's current show “Summer Memories” is a reminder that summer means different things to different people. Gone are the days of camp and water vacations. Summer can be a walk through steaming Times Square or an afternoon nap in a familiar year-round messy bedroom.

Charles Hespe’s new space at 251 Post has a happy, urbane personality. Walking in the door you are transported to Soho. Floor to ceiling windows look out on both a New-Yorky urban light well and a brilliantly sunny rooftop view of Geary Street neighbors.

The Hespe mission of ”fostering a high comfort level for established and novice art collectors” alike still holds true despite the new sophisticated location. Charles Hespe founded his gallery in 1993 on Union Street and moved from that more modest locale to Union Square about a year and a half ago. 251 Post is a more intimate version of behemoth neighbor 49 Geary. The lobby doesn’t look like much but the upper floor staircases are dramatic with mammoth intricate banisters supported by delicate spindles.

Despite the location over Bulgari, gallery assistant Ciara Shuttleworth does a great job of representing the egalitarian brand image. She gives a cheerful friendly welcome and has an innate talent for sensing when to offer information or hold back and wait for you to ask.

Another reason that Hespe is a welcoming place is that the work he chooses to feature is comfortingly consistent. Charles Hespe is dedicated to featuring works painted in a representational style. Be it photorealism or a primitivist landscape, a rose is a rose at Hespe.

The democratic mission statement is not just talk. Hespe is an enthusiastic supporter of Root Division, a San Francisco cooperative non-profit that rents affordable studio space in return for elbow grease. Member artist donate their time to teach free art classes and after school programs. http://www.rootdivision.org/ Hespe also has an open casting-call style page on his website that clearly describes how to submit work for his consideration.

I fell in love with the show’s opening pricepoint piece, Welcome to L.A., by Glenn Ness. The sides of a dark downhill LAX escalator tunnel gleam with promise. Like all of L.A., it’s an anonymous place, except for the haunting shadow of the traveller moving uphill in the opposite direction. Every detail of this specific public space is recorded, including the teeth of the moving steps. Ness’ Boy From Oz is a spooky deserted night scene of Times Square. The riotous White Way billboards are juxtaposed by the calming influence of diamond patterned slate gray sidewalk and puddled street.

Melissa Hutton’s Waiting To Get Out is a barren snowy landscape punctuated by a few benday-dot quonset huts. The painting is actually dripping with melting ice (epoxy resin) so you can feel the determination of the snowed-in residents to escape. The partner piece is in Hespe’s office, Still Waiting shows the same landscape in Summer, huts now serenely resting on a vibrant green meadow under a fiery red sky.

The piece featured on the postcard is Robert Townsend’s Cadillac, a breathtaking technical masterpiece of watercolor, a notoriously hard-to-control paint. Every chrome shine and reflection is beautifully captured. Even the dirt is recorded in this epistle to a once-loved classic car.

Eric Zener’s Calm Before a Turbulent Sea is the requisite contemplative bather piece. An angry body of water beckons a strong female swimmer.

Tony Chimento’s Afternoon Nap is what you are doing if you’re not swimming out-of-doors.

Don't rush out too quickly. Take a moment to browse through neighbor Newmark Gallery's cozy serene gallery next door currently featuring abstract "wastescapes" by Kevin Pincus. At the opposite end of the hall, pass through the door of Meyerovich Gallery and you are instantly transported to our own Manhattan MOMA Richard Serra show.

This show $3200-$55000

June 12 to August 4, Hespe Gallery, 251 Post Street, Suite 420, Tuesday- Friday, 11:00a.m - 5:30p.m. and Saturday, 11:00a.m. - 5:00p.m, 415.776.5918, info@hespe.com