November 13, 2014

Michael Osborne: Designer by Day, Artist by Night

Michael Osborne is an accomplished artist and designer, AIGA Fellow, and frequent and influential lecturer at conferences and universities. His work is in the collections of the SFMOMA, Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, and the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.

Michael Osborne, Bandaid Clock, 2009; photo: courtesy the artist
We asked Michael to tell us about what inspires his work, and we received this response:
Always a tough question, the inspiration thing. In my commercial graphic design work the answer is much easier–the design solution lies within the problem, or, a well defined problem is half solved. Demographics, communication goals and objectives. But the thing that inspires my work outside the design studio, whether it’s printmaking, sculpture, photography, or whatever crazy creative endeavor I happen to find myself in, is a much harder thing to put my finger on. My printmaking work is influenced stylistically by the work of others that I am instinctively drawn to. The aesthetics of abstract expressionists–Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, etc.makes my heart beat faster; work of the graphic masters–Robert Indiana, Roy Lichtenstein, etc. is only this far away from what I do for a living; and these kind of things are inexplicable: dreaming, and taking a shower (not at the same time).  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken from a dream with an image on my brain that I actually try to follow up on and execute. And almost every time I take a shower ideas just start flowing.
The truth is I don’t really look for inspiration– it finds me. I’ve learned to stay out of my own way, and to follow my instincts and intuition no matter how risky, goofy, or impossible the idea might seem. When I come up with ideas like making ceramic cupcakes { probably in the shower }, or a hot fudge sundae heart sculpture, or a Bandaid clock made out of a skateboard deckmy wife usually looks at me like I'm smoking crack... which is exactly when I know it’s a good idea!

Michael Osborne, Winter Cupcake, 2014; photo: courtesy the artist
The truth is, and it’s a horrible cliché, what I do creatively outside my graphic design work is for me…no rules, no clients, no design brief, goals or objectives. If I like what I’m doing, it's really all that matters. Serious. If other people are drawn to what I’m doing–cool. But I don’t count on it or even seek it. After studying at Crown Point Press in 1992, and about a year after I started making prints there were some people who saw the work and actually did respond to it and wanted to buy pieces. I would just cash the checks and go get some beer. When it kept happening my wife finally said that I can’t do that, that I would have to go get a business license, start an account etc. Shit. There went the tax-free beer. Personally, inspiration is the thing that taps me on the shoulder and says, “Hey you, pay attention.Try me on for size.” Paying attention is harder than it sounds, but if I do, inspiration will find me–probably in the shower.

Michael Osborne, Double Delight, 2014; photo: courtesy the artist

Michael Osborne, Double Delight, 2014; photo: courtesy the artist

Michael Osborne, Alphibetilately, 2008; photo: courtesy the artist

Michael Osborne, Alphibetilately, installation view  2008; photo: courtesy the artist

Michael Osborne, Alphibetilately, installation view  2008; photo: courtesy the artist

Osborne's relationship with the SFMOMA began in 1996 when he began designing the equivalent of a private label line of merchandise for the museum store. During the millennium, he designed products relating to the year 2000, and to time in general. Among the products produced were a 2000 post-it cube, a watch, a wall clock, and a child’s time capsule: a standard metal paint can with a wrapped paper label. The paint can contained an instruction booklet explaining a time capsule and its possible uses. 

Michael Osborne, SFMOMA Museum Store Private Label 1996-2001; Photos: courtesy of the artist

The artwork of Michael Osborne and five other artists is on view at the SFMOMA Artists Gallery
November 8 – December 18, 2014

October 25, 2014

Life as a Masterpiece: Video on Artist Silvia Poloto

From her artwork to her clothes, Silvia Poloto's entire life is her masterpiece. In this video by Marcelo A Salinas, she talks about her creative process, falling madly in love with metal sculpture, and her previous life as an engineer.

September 18, 2014

Photographer Anthony Delgado's Inspiration

The candid characters and vibrant hues of Anthony Delgado's photographs capture the richness of culture and rituals around the world

His photographs from Italy, Mexico, and Spain are on display at the Artists Gallery through October 23, 2014.

When we asked what else inspires him, beyond the intriguing subject of his work, this is what he shared with us:
Since my art school education was in painting and I continue to look at paintings, and have an interest in art historymainly late 18th to early 20th centuryI think my visual sense and the selections I make often have more to do with my mental art history museum than with photography. Maybe this happens on an unconscious level when I am shooting, but I can sometimes see a connection after the fact.  
Although I look at plenty of photography, most of it seems to pass through one eye and out the other. But there are two giants of photography whose work stays in my visual memory and I always find pleasure and inspiration in looking at - Henri Cartier-Bresson and Josef Koudelka.
Anthony Delgado, Head of the Procession, Ispica, Sicily, 2009
Photo: courtesy of the artist
Jacques-Louis David [Public domain], Oath of the Horatii, photo: Wikimedia Commons 
I recall Cartier-Bresson writing something to the effect that a good picture is one in which the geometry of the image is aligned with the human content. And in a filmed interview, I recall him saying that when you walk out to take photos, expect a miracle, expect something wonderful and it will appear before you.
“Above all, I craved to seize the whole essence, in the confines of one single photograph, of some situation that was in the process of unrolling itself before my eyes.” 
— Henri Cartier-Bresson
“I’m the photographer who needs to travel. If I stay long in one place, I become blind.” 
— Josef Koudelka  
Anthony Delgado, Procession Frieze, 2009
Photo: courtesy of the artist
By Greg Willis from Denver, CO, usa (Trajan's Column  Uploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
For more information on the exhibition visit: 

August 7, 2014

Photographer Kirk Crippens in Museum Exhibition

September 13, 2014 - January 19, 2015
State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now, at Crystal Bridges Museum

Last October, Kirk Crippens received an ambiguous email request for a studio visit from the president of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Don Bacigalupi, and Curator Chad Alligood. At the time Crippens didn’t know what they were up to. It wasn’t until February that he discovered the reason for their visit, when he read a front page article in the New York Times about an exhibition Crystal Bridges was putting together.

A few months later Crystal Bridges had not only chosen sixteen photographs to be part of the exhibition State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now, but also wanted to collect Crippens’ entire portfolio of 41 prints: Foreclosure, USA

Kirk Crippens, Neighborhood, (part of Foreclosure USA), currently in the gallery

The Crystal Bridges website describes the show as "the ultimate road trip, to a thousand destinations, for one unforgettable exhibition. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art’s curatorial team hit the road to investigate what’s happening in American art today. Over the course of a year, the team logged more than 100,000 miles, crisscrossing the United States.
The journey began with a series of conversations with colleagues, curators, gallery owners, critics, and collectors who helped to generate a list of 10,000 artists. After narrowing the list, the Crystal Bridges team began making studio visits to 1,000 artists, all in search of the most compelling American art being created today.

The Museum sought to discover artists whose work has not yet been fully recognized on a national level. The result of this unprecedented journey is a one-of-a-kind exhibition that draws from every region of the US, offering an unusually diverse and nuanced look at American art. The exhibition will examine the myriad ways in which today’s artists are informed by the past and engaging deeply with issues relevant to our times.

State of the Art Discovering American Art Now, brings together the work of more than 100 artists in an unprecedented exploration of the power of today’s American art." 

The SFMOMA Artists Gallery has a number of Crippens’ photographs on display until August 21st, 2014. The photographs, from his series Portraitlandia are a break from the more weighty subject of foreclosure, capturing “the most interesting, iconic people” in Portland.

Kirk Crippens, Mary Kozlov, (part of Portlandia), currently on display in the gallery

The image above is part of the exhibit:

"How the Light Gets In: Bay Area Photo"

July 19 - August 21, 2014

SFMOMA Artists Gallery at Fort Mason
Fort Mason Center
2 Marina Boulevard, Building A
San FranciscoCA 94123


Tuesday - Saturday 10:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Kirk Crippens, Tracts, (part of Foreclosure USA), currently in the gallery

Kirk Crippens, Thank You, (part of Foreclosure USA)

Kirk Crippens, Curtain Rod, (part of Foreclosure USA)

July 29, 2014

Klari Reis - video

In this video the talented Klari Reis shares her process and reveals what inspired her to start making these sculpture-like-paintings. With expoxy polymer (a UV resistant plastic similar to resin) she creates street landscapes, abstract patterns and many variations of petri dishes. This video produced by Marcelo Salinas also shows the mural she did for Microsoft Research Ltd, Cambridge, UK and the installation of 600 petri dishes for Clemson University, South Carolina.

Currently exhibited in the lobby of the Post Montgomery Center, here is a sculpture from our inventory:

Klari Reis, Petri Morph 2, 60"x60"

May 20, 2014

Doug Shoemaker, Watercolors: art of the ordinary

Interview with 
Doug Shoemaker

Showing June 7-July 3, 2014
Opening reception Saturday June 7, 3-5pm

Third St. Bridge

1. What made you paint rather than another expression? Could you have chosen sculpture too?

I began to paint pictures as a young boy and teenager, mostly pictures of barns, houses, trees and landscapes. They were simple paintings and even then in watercolor. I guess it was my way of communicating "look what I see out there, it's pretty interesting".

When I moved on to college to begin my degree in architecture, a number of my courses were focused on learning to draw realistically. It was an essential skill for an architect to learn. Some of those classes involved other media including watercolor, pastel, pencil and even oil.  The technique of watercolor grabbed my interest deeply, because of the simplicity of the medium, and, I felt, a natural way to illustrate realism in architectural illustration: shadows, textures, light and dark, perspective and materials. I can see in my work how those very basic skills still influence and are very much part of my work as a painter today.

I did also have classes in sculpture in architecture school, mostly to learn massing, shapes and forms related to model building. While it was interesting, my real love and passion and evolving skills naturally kept coming back to painting what I see.

Mare Island Tank

2. Your subjects are mundane objects and everyday landscapes. Do you think of the public when you paint?

I don’t really “think” about the public when I paint, but I perhaps wonder about their reaction to my work. Every artist does that, right? Certainly an artist cannot control or foresee what the viewer may feel toward the art, but I certainly am very interested as to their reaction. Some viewers may see my work as quite boring and of little interest, while others become fascinated with the richness that can come out of painting the ordinary. I suppose both are valid points of view.

A realist painter generally is very interested in the appearance of things, and then working out a way to express that observation, in a clear, identifiable way. The subjects of my work are very important. They form the very basis for why I put water and pigment to paper with my brush. Then it becomes the process of how to translate what I see and how to make it into a painting. I think the core of that process is traditional drawing, in my case, pencil on paper. I also don’t think of myself as a strict “photo-realist”; my work makes no attempt to hide brush strokes and marks on the paper while working to paint images often based on my own photography.


3. Your watercolor skills are amazing. Does your subject matter evolve from when you start painting? Or is your work more about improving your technique?

I continue to learn and evolve using watercolor as my medium of chose, but I am constantly amazed at how simple it is, yet allowing me to achieve the complexities and nuances, deep color saturation, and detail in my work. I tend to combine large areas of a color wash with detailed dry-brush technique, to build up the layering of the image on the paper. However, there is invariably always a point when my painting is in the early stages of layout, the colors are light, and detail has yet to be formed, and I look at the piece and it’s all wrong. Nothing seems to be working. I want to throw the piece out. Then I back up, take a break, stare at the piece for a while and jump back in. That’s the learning process, that’s how my technique improves. To quote the artist Chuck Close;

“Get yourself in trouble. If you get yourself in trouble, you don't have the answers. And if you don't have the answers, your solution will more likely be personal because no one else's solutions will seem appropriate. You'll have to come up with your own.”

Obviously, like many realist painters I use my camera as a major tool in the initial process. The camera is not as important as my brush and paper, but it does allow me to observe and retain many images that form the basis for my work. I don’t spend a lot of time composing a “perfect” image, but rather shoot somewhat randomly at subjects that appeal to me, those with strong forms, rich textures and colors, and of course, a strong aspect of sunlight and shadow.


4. Tell us how it feels to paint swimming pools or other water elements with watercolor. Is that a subject where the “architect” in you could disappear a little more?

I don’t think my work in painting pools is that different from a painting of a wall grazed with sunlight and deep shadows. The essence of my work is about organizing forms and shapes, as well as the placement of colors against other colors, or underneath other colors. A great deal of my work involves underpainting, beginning with the lightest colors first and gradually building up layer with richer and darker tones.  I suppose learning to be an architect is all about organizing the design, layout and completion of a complex object into a final piece of art. For me, watercolor painting is much the same thought process.

Additionally, my swimming pool series always involve elements of architecture or furniture in the background, forming the basis for reflections in the actual water. Even with my pool work where the elements of the water can be seen as free forming, loose and casual, there is still the organizational process in my technique to achieve that image.

5. Can you share with us a few painters who have had an influence on your work?

The work of Robert Bechtle has had an importance influence on my work, in that his work mainly deals with “ordinary” subject matter and he has worked a great deal in watercolor. For example, his watercolor “Albany Pinto”, 1973 has a wonderful, relaxed, contemplative mood about it as we see sunlight crossing a driveway with a rather simple suburban tract house in the background. My own watercolor “Desert Morning” attempts to capture those similar elements, attached:

Robert Bechtle Albany Pinto                                                             Doug Shoemaker  Desert Morning

The work of Edward Hopper has also taught me a great deal about realist painting, the quality of sunlight on a surface, and the strength we can see in ordinary architecture. His work often has a feel of melancholy and silence to the scene, at the same time (I feel) the presence of sunlight elates us. His work “Anderson’s House”, 1926 captures that feeling for me, and influenced my work entitled “Rear Window”, attached:

Edward Hopper Anderson's House                                             Doug Shoemaker Backyard Morning

Other influences and great teachers of painting whom I admire and learn from include John Register, for his stillness and rooms of empty chairs; Andrew Wyeth for his rich textural gestures in watercolor capturing darkness and mood. In a certain way, these two artists were on my mind when I painted “Maui Shadows”, attached:

Andrew Wyeth Frozen Mill Race             John Register Green Chair         Doug Shoemaker Maui Shadows 

6. What do you think of these quotes?

“It is not the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to, the feeling for the things themselves, for reality is more important than the feeling for pictures”. Vincent Van Gogh

It’s an interesting quote, in that I largely subscribe to that idea. Before I even lay paint to paper, I am out observing the environment around me, looking closely at urban objects, surfaces and places that I deem worthy of a more intense focus. Again, it goes back to my basic belief that these “ordinary and mundane” objects and places, can, in fact, become extraordinary and artful.  I think by redefining them in painting, in my case, watercolor on paper, they become a focus, a composition of detail, texture, color and form. Maybe the viewer will come away from the work with a realization that art really begins by observing the environment all around us.

“It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints as long as it is well painted”. Mark Rothko

Well, for some painters that may be true, but not for me. The subject matter I choose is the essential beginning element to why I paint. My goal is then to paint these objects, places and things in a way that captures the ‘reality’ of them, the authenticity, while being clear that what the viewer is seeing is a watercolor on paper.

March 26, 2014

our 21st Annual Artists Warehouse Sale is coming up....!

A huge selection of original artworks at a savings of up to 75 percent!

                               Five Days Only: May 07 - 11, 2014

Be among the first to shop this annual sale, now in its 21st year. With two venues of over 7,000 square feet filled with works by 300 participating artists, it’s your first chance to purchase at incredible savings. Get an early access at the opening night admission: $10 at the door; free for SFMOMA members.

Opening night: 

Wed. May 07,
6:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Additional sale hours:

Thurs. May 08,
noon - 8:00

Fri. May 09,
noon - 8:00 p.m.

Sat. May 10, noon - 5:30 p.m.

Sun. May 11,
noon - 4 p.m.

Shop this extraordinary five-day art sale and browse hundreds of artworks by a range of Bay Area artists at savings of up to 75 percent. Proceeds benefit participating artists, the Artists Gallery, and SFMOMA’s exhibitions and programs.

February 11, 2014

March-April 2014

The next exhibition is coming up!

Daniel Grant, Rachelle Reichert

March 8 – April 17, 2014

Opening reception: Saturday, March 8, 2014, 3:00 - 5:00 p.m

Daniel Grant, Draped, 2013; photo courtesy the artist
In the photographic series My Affair with Diana, Daniel Grant captures compelling vignettes of women using a Diana: a midcentury plastic camera embraced by contemporary artists for its simplicity of use, expressive results, and iconic square format. He used the same camera while traveling through the United States, Mexico, and Europe and found the photographs it produced favorably unpredictable: alternately crisp, then unfocused; moody, then stunning. These qualities prompted his use of the Diana for this photographic essay on the female form and the symbolic embodiment of the feminine as muse. The bodies he photographs morph from shadowed to brilliant, hard-edged to soft, as the arbitrary focus and pinhole vignettes characteristic of the camera lend at one moment a dramatic chiaroscuro and at another a dreamlike pictorialism. Equating the Diana with a lover, the series title hints at the shifting landscape of intimacy and implies that the greatest love affairs are those between artists and their work.

Daniel Grant, Callas, 2011; photo courtesy the artist

Rachelle Reichert, A Liminal Edge, 2013

Rachelle Reichert’s large-scale graphite drawings of figures and flowers reference seventeenth-century vanitas painting, Renaissance nudes, Dutch floral painting, and contemporary advertisements, responding to notions of beauty, desire, and the feminine in classical and modern culture. By obscuring and erasing female nudes, often with flowers piled over their heads or encroaching on their bodies from all sides, Reichert alludes to the homogenizing erasure effected by the pursuit of beauty and the fleeting nature of the ideal in the face of inevitable decay and death. Magnifying the material of drawing, Reichert includes abstract explorations of the medium of graphite, a dense form of carbon — essential to all of life, and that which remains after incineration. Seen side by side, her works expand and contract drawing from its traditional forms, moving from highly detailed figure and still-life works to conceptual and formal acts of drawing realized as sculpture, photography, and installation. In this body of work Reichert pushes beyond the edges of drawing to consider perception, materiality, and formation. She reveals elemental qualities of the artist’s creative process and the corresponding qualities in nature’s cycles of regeneration, perfection, decay, and death.

Rachelle Reichert, Untitled (Flower Drawing I) 2013



January 15, 2014

Let Me Re-Frame That

This is a short video that helps you think about how a work of art can be framed. Here at the SFMOMA Artists Gallery, we have several professional framers we recommend you work with to frame a piece you've purchased. This is the important final step that many people overlook, but it makes all the difference. Ask us for a referral. Below are some frames we’ve known and loved.

January 14, 2014

Blanc is an urban boutique experience merging modern design and classic architecture. A limited collection of 35 two- and three-bedroom residences with all the interior refinements you expect from this San Francisco architect. Steps from Polk Street and Union Square, Blanc is the centerpiece for San Francisco living.

Visitors to the property can experience Blanc's independent and modern SFMOMA Artists Gallery Pop-up inside the PENTHOUSE.

The Pop-up Gallery was organized by Michelle Nye, and features art created by local artists. The art was chosen to capture the essence of Blanc and San Francisco. If you fall in love with a piece of art, you may take it with you, as all of the art is for sale.

Michelle Nye has over thirteen years of experience advising individuals and businesses on Bay Area art selection and placement working as an Art Adviser at the SFMOMA Artists Gallery.


January 13, 2014

Jeff Bellerose Looks Down the Road

Painter Jeff Bellerose takes on the subject of the California freeway with great results.

January 10, 2014

January 2, 2014

Edith Hillinger, Sharon Shepherd, Elena Zolotnitsky

We are pleased to feature work by Edith Hillinger, Sharon Shepherd, and Elena Zolotnitsky in our first exhibition of 2014. 

Edith Hillinger, Sharon Shepherd, Elena Zolotnitsky
January 11 - February 20, 2014
Opening reception: Saturday, January 11, 2014
1:00 - 3:00 p.m.

Edith Hillinger, an artist based in Berkeley, California, will show recent collages. Her Death Valley series is based on observations of the valley’s colorful mineral deposits and includes abstract forms reminiscent of patterns found in the work of the American Indians indigenous to that area. Hillinger also cites as influences archetypal motifs, such as the zigzag that has been used from the time of the Hittites to the present day, as well as patterns found in Aboriginal and African art.

Sharon Shepherd will exhibit recent paintings. An active studio artist based in San Francisco for over three decades, she has developed an articulate and distinctive painterly vocabulary, boldly exploring the possibilities of abstraction in works that feature multi-textured surfaces and layers.

While she identifies herself as a figurative artist, Elena Zolotnitsky is quick to acknowledge that her primary impulse is to pursue the formal aspects of painting. She uses oil on canvas, board, or paper, often incorporating gold leaf. The resulting works are refined explorations of volume, hue, and texture that portray people during their private time at home.

Edith Hillinger, Death Valley Sunset, 2013; photo: Jeannie O'Connor

Elena Zolotnitsky, La Dolce Vita, 2005-8, photo: Russel Kiehn 

Sharon Shepherd, Sweetness of Jasmine, 2013: photo: Laird Rodet