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.