Gantner, Benicia: Lush Vinyl Landscapes

8:00 AM - 6:00 PM, August 6-September 21, 101 California Street Lobby, curated by Artsource Consulting

Benicia’s work is astonishing because from afar it looks as if it were made without the human hand. High gloss vinyl film is meticulously sliced into snowflake-intricate floral patterns, evoking a stylized version of 19th century Arts and Crafts decorative arts master William Morris.

These are huge works that were made for this space and perfectly echo the riot of plant life and sunshine streaming in. Centered above the elevator bays is an enormous triptych, Sun Stream + Green, which has hanging folds of yellow sun over the contrived, overgrown landscape. Bloom 1 (pearlescent gray cast acrylic) and Bloom 2 (a vibrant pea shoot green) flank the Sun Stream altarpiece over the security desk. Benicia has made three strong pieces that stand out with confidence in this imposing space while still remaining true to her delicate style.

Benicia uses plexiglass mounted on wood frame often in her work, but at 8’ x 12’ “Sun Stream” is the largest piece that she has ever produced. When she first started making these carefully choreographed landscapes she cut the plastic strips by hand. Now that demand for her work has increased, she uses a sign maker’s plotter after creating the original stencil template. In fact her materials are traditional sign making supplies which she can't find locally and must import from L.A. (Fun fact: Benicia and Tauba Auerbach, whose work is also also influenced by commerical sign making, both went to San Francisco University High School.)

Are you thinking that the name Benicia sounds familiar? You’re right, the artist is not only a San Francisco native but is a descendant of Francisca Benicia Carillo de Vallejo and her husband the General.

Benicia has had quite a few noteworthy achievements herself including kicking off Berkeley gallery Traywick’s 10th anniversary year with a solo show in January '07 and being honored as a finalist for the SFMOMA SECA Award (Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art) last year.