I am absolutely smitten with Kim Frohsin‘s work! I first encountered her figurative drawings in More Than Your Selfie at New Museum Los Gatos last year and then I fell in love with her figurative painting at Connect and Collect at the Institute of Contemporary Art in San Jose (even making an early bid on her piece which I sadly did not win) in October. This year I was able to catch her show at Thomas Reynolds Gallery in San Francisco and then actually be in a group show with her, Honoring the Legacy of David Park, at Santa Clara University which ran in April! When I finally got to meet her in person at the show’s reception, I jumped at the chance to arrange a studio visit – which just took place last week on one of those rare, exceedingly hot days in the city.
Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Kim Frohsin moved to California in 1979, studying at San Diego State University, San Diego and l’Institut pour les Etudiants Etrangers in Aix-en-Provence before earning her BFA at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco. Her current studio is in the historic Noonan Building of Pier 70, San Francisco in the actual studio of early abstract expressionist, Frank Lobdell! Her work is widely collected and has been acquired by the San Jose Museum of Art, the Crocker Art Museum and the De Young Art Museum!
Frohsin has an amazing facility with the figure, her lines are fresh and gestural, poses dynamic and creative, her process is unique and absorbing and her commitment is full on!
Each painting in this series, Wigs, Silhouettes & Suspension, begins with a drawing from life upon which areas are masked off with razors and tape, paint is applied with a palette knife and pigments are rubbed on. No brushes. Sometimes the initial drawing is glimpsed here and there. There is such an immediacy and vitality to the work, in composition, application of material, juxtaposition of color and the way it is used to express shadows and highlights. I was delighted to delve into a trove of these gorgeous paintings, do a little shopping and a whole lot of coveting!
It was fascinating to get a glimpse of the diverse bodies of work represented in her studio, both archived and current, and hear her talk about her process and experience.
I was quite overwhelmed by each unearthed piece!
Toy car mixed media painting.
Self-portrait on a stack of books. You can learn so much about an artist from her studio. Kim’s is full of interesting books and photos and quotes (and a few wigs and hula hoops).
I thought that Egon Schiele might be one of Frohsin’s influences and was intrigued to find this lovely photographic overlay of the artist over a picture of the Austrian artist on her studio wall.
Cross Walk – Acrylic, pencils, and ink on Paper
Kim has this photo of Frank Lobdell tacked up at Noonan building, can you guess the other two artists?
I brought back with me Kim Frohsin’s gorgeous book Figures with Edges 2007-2008 (thanks Kim!) and am pouring over it at home! It can be ordered (along with Two Minutes and Counting and Portraits of Numbers: 2010-2014) directly from her website using this link.
In a recent post I visited the The Hunger Games: The Exhibition at the Palace of Fine Arts, this time I thought I’d focus on the gorgeous building itself. Initially constructed by California architect Bernard Maybeck for San Francisco’s World Fair in 1915 on reclaimed bay land, the building has since seen earthquakes and reconstructions and has been used for many different purposes. The Innovation Hangar currently hoses hands-on educational activities and amazing exhibitions from major institutions such as Bay Area Discovery Museum, Kaboom, Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, Maker Media and Wearable World Technologies, there has been talk of converting it to a restaurant and other ideas. I don’t know what the future holds for this stunning place but it’s a very special landmark that should be open to everyone to stroll though and admire the architecture and fountain and swan pond, to be inspired by its beauty and grandeur!
I was so happy to hear that a new exhibit of one of my top favorite painters, Pierre Bonnard, was opening up at the Legion of Honor! He’s known as one of the Nabis, a Post-Impressionist movement where the the flattened perspective of Japanese art, the stylization of Art Nouveau, the use of pattern as a decorative element and the exploration of non-local color were early hallmarks.
I love this big, beautiful, blown-up photograph of Pierre Bonnard in a room full of very intimate, tiny photos of the artist and his wife. So interesting to see these mysterious little moments emerge from the darkness in such contrast to his small and very large canvases that are flooded with light and color!
You can clearly see the decorative stylized elements in his early pieces, Woman in Dress with White Dots, Seated Woman with Cat, Woman in Cape, Woman in Checkered Dress 1890-91. Close up you can see the simple laying in of paint stokes over the tan substrate.
Woman in Checkered Dress (detail) 1890-91 distemper on paper mounted on canvas
Seated Woman with Cat (face detail) 1890-91 distemper on paper mounted on canvas
Seated Woman with Cat (detail) 1890-91 distemper on paper mounted on canvas
Here in this detail from this 1895 oil painting, In the Garden loose, gestural strokes are applied to a green ground.
In this detail from the 1892 painting, The Checkered Blouse, bits of the canvas can be seen under thickly applied daubs of paint.
This wall sized oil on canvas, On the Boat from 1907 features both the light filled, almost patterned landscape and the face in deep shadow in the foreground.
Charming duck detail.
This detail of the birds in the trees shows how loosely the paint is applied.
One of the most arresting pieces in the exhibit, Nude in an Interior from 1912-14 uses elements of the interior (walls and tables) to radically crop the figure in a daring and partially voyeuristic manner. Color pulsates and shimmers with its mix of varied hues.
Pink Nude, Head in Shadow from 1919 just glows in juxtaposition to the deep shadow across the face. I’m in love with that lavender pink stipe against al those shades of pale yellow and mint.
In Nude in the Bathtub from 1925 we are introduced to one of Bonnard’s most celebrated motifs, the bather and bathtub, seen here in an almost bird’s eye view. I could look at all those gorgeous mottled pastels forever…
In The Bath from 1925 we again see the play of the color of flesh as seen through water.
In the Work Table dated 1926-1937 we see the up tilted perspective on a domestic scene with pattern color and pets – classic!
The Boxer (Portrait of the Artist) −1931 is a bit of a departure, the lack of a setting allows the viewer a deeper focus of the figure’s expression and gesture, the face again thrown into shadow and surfaces loose and luminous.
Yellow Harmony from 1934 achieves an almost abstract quality, it’s supersaturated color dematerializes the figure which is absorbed into the composition as just another structural element.
Pierre Bonnard: Painting Arcadia is a major show of more than 70 works that span his prolific career, this post only represents some of my favorites, I hope you’ll take in the exhibit before it closes May 15 and spend some time with your own picks!
I don’t know about you, but The Hunger Games (books and movies) have been a big hit at our house for quite some time! The Hunger Games: The Exhibition has just opened up at the Palace of Fine Arts this past Saturday and since the kids are out of school for February break we went up to see for ourselves the film set recreations, the high-tech interactive installations and games but the most excitingly (for me) the many amazing costumes that were specifically designed for the series… Oh la lovely! Show runs until July 31.
I fell in love with one of Carole Rafferty’s paintings. Well, actually, I love all her paintings but there was one in particular that was beyond perfection. It was a little out of my budget but that didn’t stop me from seeing it in person. Maybe if I couldn’t have the painting, I could paint the artist with the painting!
Carole Rafferty with Street Corner #1
I know Carole from the Los Gatos Museum Gallery and the Los Gatos Art Association where we are both members, but she’s also represented by Nancy Dodds Gallery and the Studio Shop and the American Impressionist Society and the California Art Club. Her studio is in Palo Alto (and has had a fancy reno since I visited it in 2015 – which is nice for her but who else would even notice with all these gorgeous paintings all over the place?!).
The artist with a coffee and another favorite painting, Street Corner #2.
Carole Rafferty specializes in urban landscape painting, but everything she sets her brush to has that same dreamy, super skilled handling of paint, light and palette.
Just look at this lush light and shadow playing across the scene!
Rafferty’s work is so atmospheric and absolutely filled with the sense and spirit of place…
…like this Marnia view that was fresh on the easel.
Looking at her tools of the trade, I think, it’s not what you’ve got…it’s what you do with it!
There is so much to learn from this Chinatown painting, Grant Avenue San Francisco. The overall effect of the palette is subtle but there is so much complexity to the color! The peach of the buildings is underpainted in the sky, the green of the awning is echoed in the shadows throughout, the red dots are repeated as awnings and lanterns and lights of the cars. I love too how the figures and cars and relegated to different zones in the painting.
More fabulous paintings everywhere you look!
You can see more of her amazing work on her website, http://carolerafferty.com.
My friend Elizabeth introduced me to Flora Grubb Gardens in San Francisco. Located in Dog Patch, this urban garden design store is a drought tolerant jungle of inspiration! It has even been claimed that they pioneered the vertical garden… I wonder if anyone can vouch for that?
I felt the size on an insect crawling beneath!
Wall covered with these red passion flowers.
Wall of colorful chairs.
Chairs in a blue vignette.
Succulent table scape,
Sculptural fern leaves.
Winged stem passoin flower.
So many great ideas for living creatively in a drought prone landscape!
I finally made it to the groundbreaking exhibition, @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz just before it ended! This island penitentiary (having imprisoned civil war political prisoners, conscientious objectors in WWI, and being occupied by Native American protestors) was the perfect site to work with themes of personal freedom, freedom of expression and concerns with political oppression.
When San Francisco’s For-Site Executive Director, Cheryl Haines (and @Large Curator) had approached internationally acclaimed artist, Ai WeiWei in his confinement in China with the idea of exhibiting at Alcatraz, it was a perfect fit. Ai Weiwei was able to work remotely from his studio in Beijing developing and directing this site-specific installation.
With Wind was an installation of handmade painted kites made of paper, silk and bamboo that wound its way through one of the main factory floors of the New Industries Building on Alcatraz in which inmates used to work in laundry or manufacturing. The kites, a symbol of soaring freedom, delicate and fragile (like us) are able to reach great heights with wind, the wind being a metaphor for our voices. Interestingly, the word akasha in Sanskrit, which means open space and sky, is also associated with wind and voice. These kites, especially the dragon, seemed barely contained in this space and there was a sense of optimism implicit in their bright colors and imagery of massing birds. The dragon’s head was oriented to an open door, primed for escape and emblazoned with Ai Weiwei’s name in it’s brows and Twitter icons on it’s eyes. Throughout the length of the dragon there were quotes from prisoners of conscience.
Twitter Icon pupils and flaming Ai weiwei brows featured on the Dragon’s Head.
The dragon positioned to fly out the open door.
“My words are well intended and innocent.” – Lê Quôc Quân
“Ze Du Out Disgusting Dictator.” – Nito Alves
“…privacy is a function of liberty.” – Edward Snowden
“Everyone of us is a potential Convict: – Ai Weiwei
Traditional hand made kites are still being crafted in Beijing. I was luck enough to visit one such shop, Three Stones Kite Store, in 2008 and took home a silk swallow, which represents the city. Here Ai Weiwie has had his birds painted with his own imagery.
Birds taking wing, flocking together, flowers blossoming.
There is a Chinese legend that goes back to 559 AD when two brothers flew from a dungeon by sitting on a kite one of them had made to rescue his brother. I wonder if this two headed bird is associated with that story?
Kites seen through the gun gallery.
Last glimpse of the dragon kite though the gun gallery where most of the glass was either broken or missing.