Electric Works: State of the Art Printmakers Offer Something for Everyone

Group Show featuring emerging artists: Civil Twilight, November 30 - January 5, 2008, 130 8th Street San Francisco, California 94103, Monday - Friday 10 AM - 6 PM, Saturday 10:30 AM - 5:30 PM, 415 626 5496, http://www.sfelectricworks.com/, noah@sfelectricworks.com

Electric Works is not just a print shop with special to-the-trade high-tech services; it’s a collaborative space with a community spirit.

Emerging collectors can start an art collection with the $40 Mini Print Program. Universally appealing is the gift shop is stocked for the holiday season with unique and affordable artistic collectibles. This is the perfect place to find gifts under $25 for all ages including every issue of Cabinet Magazine in print ($10), limited edition book art by David Byrne ($24) and David Mamet ($19.95), natural beeswax crayons ($11/$25/$45), charming old-fashioned tin toys ($10-$15), and incredibly hard-to-find Japanese Steampunk watches (already collectors' items, priced upon request).

For established collectors, not only is there the opportunity to purchase 2D and 3D print editions worthy of the Achenbach Collection, there is also a service that would make Stanley Marcus take notice. Looking for a holiday gift for the art collector who has everything? Electric Works will bring their high-tech equipment to your home and photograph your collection. You'll get a leather bound book with pictures of everything you own - perfect for when a guest comes over and an important piece is on loan (and doubles as a record for insurance purposes).

The Lang Family is such an important part of the San Francisco Bay Area art community that it seems like Electric Works has been in the city forever. But no, this family enterprise just relocated from its old incarnation (Trillium Press) in Brisbane to its new home on Eighth between Mission and Howard last Spring. The Langs were part of Trillium for over ten years and it was there that they established their reputation as master printmakers with an appetite for experimentation and envelope-pushing (other venerable printmakers bring projects they can’t execute to Trillium and EW). Dad Richard and son Noah searched for a long time for the right spot and then kismet brought them to the historic Buzzell Building which for decades housed a machine repair shop. It was such a good match that the Langs adopted the name of the former tenants, perfect for printmakers who specialize in state of the art printmaking.

First a quick primer on prints. A print is not the faded Monet Water Lillies poster you bought in college that has managed to follow you from apartment to apartment ever since. An original print is a work of art on paper which has been conceived by the artist to be realized as a print, rather than as a photographic reproduction of a work in another medium. Each impression should be approved and signed by the artist and the master image destroyed or cancelled. An original print is not a copy of anything else; it is a work of art in its own right.

Electric Works has quickly built a niche business in digital prints. To create these, artists use a computer to create or manipulate their works often use a large-scale ink jet printer to print them. These complex printers use a sophisticated print head to disperse the ink on the paper in a fine mist of minute droplets in order to deliver a continuous tone image.

Electric Works’ strength is its breadth of programming, the affable personality of the Lang family and their commitment to philanthropy. The Foyer Gallery features work from its Venture Philanthropy program which supports non-profit organizations through the commission of limited edition prints. Fundraising projects on display beginning Nov. 30 benefit Headlands Center for the Arts, the Magic Theater and 826 Valencia. Past partners include New Langton Arts and Friends of the Urban Forest.

All three Langs are artists themselves. Richard originally conceived of the versatile gallery while enrolled in the M.A. sculpture program at the University of Wisconsin. Wife Judith Selby Lang (who does the PR) creates multi-media art installations with an ardent Green message. She is often wearing eye-catching accessories that she fashions from found materials. She has taught art for thirty years in to higher-ed students in Bay Area schools as well as arts and crafts to those in convalescent hospitals with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

After receiving his masters in German Literature, Noah heard the siren call of the gallery and moved home to help with the high tech aspects of the print shop. When not taking the gallery’s offerings on the road to art fairs or searching out new items for the gift shop, Noah makes conceptual sculpture and volunteers his time as a member of the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery Advisory Board.

Electric Works business partner Anthony Luzi is an artist as well, and is the CEO of Raven Motors. Luzi and Lang became friends through their mutual appreciation for the work of William Wiley. He is responsible for bringing in artists Ron Davis and Nathan Redwood. Visit the gallery and you’ll see a Raven, a bright green, single passenger, three-wheeled car which registers and parks as a motorcycle, gets seventy miles to the gallon, has an airbag and a design patented for your safety.

Since its grand opening in May, the Langs have featured a fifty-year retrospective of California artist Ronald Davis’ abstract geometrics, Paul Madonna’s dreamy drawings of the view along I5, the results of Amanda Hughen & Jennifer Starkweather’s collaboration for the SFAC “Art on Market Street” program, brainy doodler Tucker Nichols and Katherine Sherwood, professor of Art at UC Berkeley with an incredible personal story of rebirth that is an integral part of her work.

Love the work you see in an Electric Works show but can’t afford it? The $40 Mini Print Program was designed for you. Every headliner artist who shows in the gallery is invited to make an original work of art for this program. You can buy just one (unframed) or subscribe to the series. Each month you’ll receive the same number in the print series (such as 23/100). Email Noah directly if you’d like to sign up: noah@sfelectricworks.com.

John Berggruen Gallery: Take Note of These Emerging Artists on Display

November 1- December 15, 2007, Displaced: Jonathan Callan, Frank Ebert,Armando Miguelez, Julio Ceaser Morales, Gabrielle Teschner, Hours 9:30am -5:30pm Monday through Friday, 10:30am - 5:00pm Saturday, 228 Grant Avenue, San Francisco, 94108, 415-781-4629

Click here to see images under Menu, Exhibitions, Current, Displaced: http://www.berggruen.com/

The list of artists shown over the past thirty plus years at John Berggruen Gallery includes a who's-who from the pantheon of California greats: Thiebaud, Diebenkorn, Oliveira and Bischoff to name a few.

But the show on view in the gallery's third floor through mid-December is noteworthy because it features emerging artists, something Berggruen hasn't done in ages. (For the purpose of this article, "emerging" is defined as very recently graduated from grad school and/or as yet "untested"by a commercial gallery with an international reputation.)

1997 was the last time Berggruen featured artists at such an early career stage, in a group show that included the work of Barry McGee. That was the year that McGee’s work was revealed to the art community as one of the winners of the SFMOMA SECA Award show. (The Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art was founded in 1960 by San Francisco Bay Area art community notables including Ruth Braunstein and Rene di Rosa and recognizes a handful of outstanding local emerging artists every other year who invariably go on to receive national recognition.) Since then McGee has ascended to the position of Godfather of the home grown Mission School movement.

Two of the artists on view in "Displaced" just received their MFA's from California College of the Arts last Spring. Frank Ebert's photorealist graphite on paper drawings ($1,500-$3,200) are the ultimate grown-up rock and roll poster. Gabrielle Teschner also bowed at CCA in May; her "Altered Maps" ($1,400-$2,200) are found vintage maps with stenciled cut-outs of tongue in cheek cartographer's jargon.

Although Julio Cesar Morales is also included in the "Displaced" show, "emerging" is not the right description for this accomplished artist. Morales is the founder of the provocative alternative gallery space called "Queen's Nails Annex" (which really is next door to a beauty shop in the outer Mission called Queen's Nails). He is a graduate of San Francisco Art Institute and now teaches there in the New Genres department. The Rockefeller Foundation and The Fleishhacker Foundation are among the many venerable institutions that have recognized his talent.

The Tijuana born artist's work is highly charged with border politics featuring the desperate attempts of illegal immigrants to smuggle themselves into the US. (It is not a surprise that his provocative work is featured in the permanent collection of the San Diego Museum of Art in a city on the front lines of this issue.) The soft watercolors look like science fiction cartoon cels but are horrifyingly real and depict actual cases documented by the border patrol. This is serious political art that makes its point effectively. ($5,000-$5,500)

New blood on the Berggruen staff has something to do with it. Mike Bianco just signed on full-time with the gallery after graduating from the Curatorial Practice Master's program at CCA, and this is the first show he has curated there. Bianco's not exactly brand new to Berggruen. He had been working part-time for the gallery while enrolled in CCA ever since Mr. Berggruen discovered him in 2005 in the American Pavilion at the 51st Venice Biennial where he was an assistant in the Ed Ruscha exhibit.

Bianco leads a second life in Marfa, Texas, where he runs a space called "The Way Point" (www.thewaypoint.org) that he curates during Chinati season. The contemporary art world knows Marfa as a town that is synonymous with the Chinati Foundation, founded by Donald Judd in the early 1980's, to provide a home for large scale minimalist/conceptual sculpture. Forget Burning Man; during "Chinati Season" the tiny town (population 2,121) is a happening, overrun with artists and curators. (Julio Morales is also a Marfite.)

Next time Bianco is scheduled to curate something big for Berggruen is not until Fall ’08 so be sure to stop by while “Displaced” is still up on the walls.

Triple Base Gallery: White Glove Inspection

Triple Base Gallery, Thursday-Sunday 12-5pm, (please check for special evening hours), 3041 24th Street @ Treat (btw Folsom & Harrison) San Francisco, CA 94110, triplebase@gmail.com, phone: 415.643.3943, www.basebasebase.com

Do you ever dream about being able to do the one-stop-shopping thing and get an overview of the work of Bay Area emerging artists in one gallery visit?

Well, close your eyes and imagine an art gallery that’s open on a Sunday in a cool neighborhood next to a joint where you can get a great fish taco. Now imagine that the gallery owner likes you and lets you look through her inventory in a no-pressure environment and takes the time to educate you about each artist whose work you’re viewing. And there’s more: the majority of pieces for sale are in your price range. (No uncomfortable embarrassment while the gallery director and assistant unwrap canvas after canvas while you know all along you can’t afford anything they’re showing you.)

Now open your eyes- it’s not a dream. You’re at Triple Base in the Mission and you’re wearing white gloves and looking through the “flat files,” metal cabinets with shallow drawers which store works on paper numbering close to 300 and featuring the work of over 30 different young artists. Prices start at $75 and range up to $2000, with the majority around $500 (unframed). The only thing that’s different from your dream is that there are two gallery directors: Joyce Grimm and Dina Pugh.

You now know you’re not asleep but the fantasy goes on. Joyce and Dina have just invited you to their next dinner lecture held at a real live-work loft where the Dean of CCA, Larry Rinder, will give a talk about Triple Base’s featured artist of the month and the dinner is catered by underground chef Leif Hedendal who serves an I-can’t-believe-this-is-vegan organic gourmet three course dinner. And no, you don’t need to pinch yourself; you DO see Jack Hanley, Gary Sangster, Executive Director of Headlands Center for the Arts, Svea Lin Vezzone of Swarm and Terri Kwiatek, Co-President of SFMOMA’s SECA, all enjoying the party too.

Joyce and Dina became friends while enrolled in the Masters of Curatorial Practice graduate program at California College of the Arts. Larry Rinder was Dina’s thesis advisor and has since taken the pair under his wing. Rinder says, “They have thrown themselves totally into the cultural mix of our city. And they've done so in a way that combines idealism and pragmatism extremely effectively. When they took over Triple Base, the space already had an excellent reputation. They kept a lot of what Oliver had started alive, in terms of the warm and generous connection to local artists, and added some ideas of their own, like flat-files and the dinner talks. Triple Base is now one of the most vital and dynamic of any Bay Area arts organizations. Dina and Joyce have shown that you can make a really important contribution without a great deal of money. Their dedication, talent, and inclusive spirit naturally draw others around them. It's not surprising at all that so many people are cheering them on.”

The gallery was founded in 2003 by two artists Oliver Halsman Rosenberg and Clint Tanaguchi who used the storefront as their studio and as a community project space. The founders moved on to make their art in New York and Tokyo, respectively, and entrusted Triple Base to the women before they left. (The original name, Triple Base, was a reference to a vision of being one of many “bases” with similar vision connected internationally.)

Having a curatorial background comes in handy when you’re working with young artists who don’t yet have a mature body of work. The two agree that Joyce is slightly more hands-on in the creative process and Dina is more hands-off but both women enjoy their role as mentor, drawing out strong potential that they see in the work.

Modeled after the Pierogi Gallery in Brooklyn, the “flat files” pay the rent and allow the co-directors to use the rest of the space for sheer artistic expression including experimental performance and installation art. Artwork in the files is rotated out every six months and every month or so a new artist is added to the mix.

Time management is an art form here as well. Both women have been holding down full-time jobs while simultaneously running Triple Base Gallery. It is truly a labor of love.

Joyce is Gallery Assistant at the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery (your tax dollars at work). Meg Shiffler, Gallery Director, is supportive of their mission as well: “Joyce and Dina have [contributed to the San Francisco art community] by developing a space that is not a nonprofit alternative space and not a commercial gallery. It is important in this age of dwindling arts funding to come up with new models that address long-term stability. This is an agile space that can easily transform itself to suit the needs of each exhibition/artist. Triple Base offers patrons of the arts an opportunity to see works by young artists at the beginning of their careers - long industrious careers if Joyce and Dina have anything to say about it!"

Until this week, Dina was the Director of the Jack Hanley Gallery. (Hanley has galleries in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, and represents a number of critically acclaimed young San Francisco artists including Tauba Auerbach, Leslie Shows, Simon Evans, Chris Johanson, and Shaun O’Dell.) But after a valuable year working with Jack Hanley, Dina has resigned from the position, making the weighty decision to dedicate herself 100% to running Triple Base. While they are lucky to have three talented interns, the business partners decided it was important to have one of the two principals in the space at all times. Dina will use this gift of additional time to further Triple Base’s work with artists, manage the logistics of participating in national and international art fairs and raise funding.