When it comes to art, New York has been called a hub where intellectualism and creativity meet. Although it has a smaller population, the same sentiment can be said about San Francisco. As the city known for its diversity, its no surprise that one can find a multitude of extraordinary and unique artists creating art ranging from traditional to highly experimental and conceptual. These individuals need someone capable of navigating the art world as well as having the deft business acumen to run an art establishment. This person must also orchestrate opportunity while engaging the community. Catherine Clark fits this description perfectly. After her studies in English literature and Art History from the University of Pennsylvania, the San Francisco native found herself returning to the Bay Area. In retrospect, her decision was fortuitous for the San Francisco art community as it forged a place in the city’s art scene that has, arguably, made her one of the most prestigious galleries on the West Coast, if not nationally.

Originally called Morphos, the Catherine Clark gallery has become one of the most influential galleries showcasing both national and international artists. Her gallery began in Hayes Valley in the early 1990s, subsequently moving to 49 Geary in April 1995 and moving in 2007 to 150 Minna Street, her currect space. The 2,500 square feet ground floor space with two large galleries is a neighbor to the San Francisco Museum of Modern of Art (SFMOMA). The gallery  includes a dedicated media room that is uncommon to most gallery spaces in San Francisco. In recent years, she established a pop-up exhibition space in a residential apartment in New York’s Chelsea district on West 14th Street for her East Coast clientele. It has been said that Clark injected a bit of New York onto Minna Street. Yet, she wholly believes that San Francisco has a tremendous art community and notes regionalism exists in all places. In order to defy such insularity, exposure depends upon creating and building a community that can execute on a national and global scale.Alongside utilizing technology to gain a broader audience, local art fairs allow the community become much more involved. For this reason, San Francisco is rife with potential and ready to be seen as a place for cultural exchange. Clark asserts, “We have a lot of the ingredients already in place that make for a vibrant art scene…We could use more press for the art scene that reaches a national or international audience so that our assets are not just enjoyed and understood by the locals”. To further prove this point, Clark represents a myriad of individuals, many of them local, whose work she defines as content-driven, which certainly commands attention.

Clark strives to have her artists’ work and the content of these shows move past the opening night and outside of the space itself. Her hope is for the work to reach a wide range of patrons and art lovers. Exposure beyond a city’s limits is imperative to the success of any gallery. However, the foundation that nurtures and binds her gallery relies heavily on her intuition and a profound connection to her artists and their practices. Currently, she represents 25 artists. Although each has a unique story, the process of representing an artist entails her response to the work with an invested and serious commitment to their growth and development. In conjunction with the exhibitions, the new media program compliment the overall exhibitions. Large art institutions often notice the work Clark exhibits. “I have also been encouraged by how SFMOMA has taken more of an interest in artists working in this region. The recent Shadowshop project by Stephanie Syjuco is a great example of what I am speaking of relative to that museum”, Clark affirms. Some of the most notable artists in her program include Al Farrow, Travis Somerville, Sandow Birk, Stephanie Syjuco, Packard Jennings, Carlos and Jason Sanchez (Sanchez Brothers), Jonathan Solo amongst other talented artists.

Current and Upcoming Exhibitions

June 4 – July 16
Stephanie Syjuco
Media Room: Kate Gilmore

July 23 – August 27
Imagine Ireland (Irish artists and writers; in collaboration with Culture Ireland)

September 3 – October 29
Julie Heffernan
Media Room: Nick and Sheila Pye

November 5 – December 23
Ray Beldner
Media Room: Ed Osborn

Please click here to learn more about the Catherine Clark Gallery.

Published to Asterisk SF Magazine.

Travis Somerville, Dedicated to the Proposition - Exhibition Catalog

It’s the end of the weekend and it’s been over a week since I first took on the WordPress postaday2011 challenge. I’m finding myself gaining some major writing momentum and finding new content. Obviously, there will be days I post formal and analytical write ups and other days where I’ll just want to tell you, dear friend, something that’s been on my mind. Or, something that’s happened to me. Good and bad. I’m hoping more good than bad stories will be shared this year as well as taking part in a greater dialogue with other bloggers, art lovers, writers, artists – anyone interested in joining the conversation. I think the most challenging aspects of maintaining a daily blog are, but certainly not limited to, finding the daily motivation and obtaining interesting content.

For today’s post, I wanted to reflect on meeting one of my favorite artists, Travis Somerville, at an art opening at the Catherine Clark gallery (located in San Francisco, CA). I learned of Mr. Somerville’s work in a drawing classes I took the UC Berkeley Extension. His work often comes up when discussing how art can play an integral role depicting and recording history. Art can provide and, probably more so now than ever, social commentary. Contextually, his art focuses on American history, experiences with racism, and identity. Although his method is predominantly painting, his installation works prove to be all the more powerful and engaging when incorporated with his two-dimensional work. With the opportunity to speak with him, I brought how well he uses typography in his paintings. This is extremely difficult to execute without looking completely contrived. Much of the authenticity one may feel behind the work probably has to do with his willingness to see where the ideas take him as well as gathering his experiences and speaking from his perceptions and knowledge versus giving an audience what they may like or expect to see. He’s unapologetic and straight forward but one of the most down-to-earth and remarkably sincere artists I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and talking to. Of course, I had a fantastic conversation with him but since it wasn’t a formal interview, I won’t bother trying to recall the details but just know, it was one of the most amazing art nights I’ve had. Actually meeting and talking to an artist that inspires me to write and have my own art practice is a pretty incredible feeling. I was happy, that’s for sure. Art writing is a passion because there are artists who are passionate about their work; I love capturing, in words, how such intense work both fascinates and motivates me to see how I, too, can affect change.

I couldn’t get a way without asking Mr. Somerville who inspires him. He was gracious and shared the name Vik Muniz with me. After viewing Mr. Muniz’s work, it’s easy to see how Mr. Somerville stays motivated.

A quick note about the above photo, it’s the catalog from Mr. Somerville’s exhibition at the Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis College of Art and Design (Los Angeles, CA). I was ECSTATIC to receive one and he signed it,

Dorothy –

with respect and gratitude

Travis Somerville

Yes, I was seeing hearts and stars afterwards…still seeing them. 🙂