Geoff Hoyle in "Lear's Shadow"" at the Marsh Theater in Berkeley

Geoff Hoyle has been delighting and electrifying us in the Bay Area for decades. I observed him developing and presenting his most recent solo show “Lear’s Shadow” at the Marsh in San Francisco. Being the son of Yorkshireman who climbed out of the slums of Sheffield by educating himself in electronics and steeping himself in the classics, I’ve had a lot of exposure to Shakespeare. Indeed, my father’s frequent lament when either I, or my brother, disappointed him was “Ah how sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child.”

But Geoff’s Lear was a revelation for it’s highly original point of view that remains true to the original story while shedding a stark, contemporary light on this universal tale.

I couldn’t resist proposing to Geoff that he and I collaborate on two paintings. He agreed and this diptych is the result of an intense collaboration over two afternoons. Where his contribution ends and where mine begins is not, at this point, clear to me. It was an unforgettable experience. Especially unforgettable to see Mr. Hoyle uncharacteristically immobile while I painted him!
If you like this diptych, I guarantee that you will love Geoff’s performance. Reserve your seats at the Marsh in Berkeley before they are all sold out.

You will also get to see this diptych which is hanging in the theater.

Upcoming Solo Exhibition at SFMOMA Artists Gallery

Spirit of Place - The Kaiser Permanente Series and related works

February 27 - March 27 at the SFMOMA  Artists' Gallery, Fort Mason Center, 2 Marina Boulevard, Building A, San Francisco, CA 94132     Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 10:30 am - 5 pm      Contact: [email protected]

Reception: Wednesday March 2nd, 5 - 7 pm. Live music by a trio drawn from José Najera's "Bernal Beat:" /  7 pm - 8 pm Artist talk and videos

Kaiser Permanente Series: Potrero Hill Community Garden

Kaiser Permanente Series: Potrero Hill Community Garden

    In January 2015, I was commissioned by Kaiser Permanente to paint a series of eight paintings of neighborhoods of San Francisco. Kaiser was seeking vibrant paintings that represented the cultural and topographical diversity of our city. The finished works are reproduced digitally as ten foot murals in the reception areas of eight floors of their Mission Bay Medical Offices. These murals which Kaiser has titled 'Heart Walls' will welcome patients with iconic scenes of our city.

Kaiser Permanente Series: Caffé Trieste

Kaiser Permanente Series: Caffé Trieste

    The original paintings for these murals form the centerpiece of a solo exhibition at the SFMOMA Artists' Gallery. The exhibition will also include related works and paintings of Mexico and Italy and some paintings from The Garden Series.

Kaiser Permanente Series: Jazz Musicians on Divisadero

Kaiser Permanente Series: Jazz Musicians on Divisadero

Installed courtesy of  Chandra Cerrito Gallery Art Advisors at Kaiser Permanente, Mission Bay Medical Offices, San Francisco California.

Carnaval Time in the Mission

Carnaval Time in the Mission

FROM SICILY TO EMILIA-ROMAGNA: A TWO MONTH PAINTING TRIP

An old Italian once told me "We are German in the North and Arab in the south" This is only a slight exaggeration as we observed traveling from Sicily to northern Italy over a two month period.

 Stromboli erupting, as seen from Ginostra on Stromboli in the Aeolian Islands

 Stromboli erupting, as seen from Ginostra on Stromboli in the Aeolian Islands

The  south, with its Baroque Spanish architecture and the terra-cotta rooftops scattered in a volcanic landscape, could almost be Mexico. Except that Mexico doesn't have Greek temples. Nor people who, more than two thousand years after they were vanquished by the Romans, still consider themselves Greek.           

    Garlic Merchants, Catania, Sicily                                                      From our terrace in the Spanish Quarter, Naples

    Garlic Merchants, Catania, Sicily                                                      From our terrace in the Spanish Quarter, Naples

Lugo amid the fertile plain that surrounds the river Po in the northern province of Emilia-Romagna exudes a sense of well being and orderliness more characteristic of northern Europe. Many here are practicing Catholics who also insist that they are Communists. Neighbors often share their cars. 

The main square of Lugo in Emilia-Romagna

The main square of Lugo in Emilia-Romagna

Florentine youth, eager to be on the the cutting edge, have embraced American culture with gusto. On this visit much of the graffiti was in English. One noteworthy message asked: "If this is tourist season, why can't we hunt them?"

 Piazza Santo Spirito, Florence, Italy

 Piazza Santo Spirito, Florence, Italy

I was scandalized to find hamburgers on the lunch menu at 'Pops', a popular youth hangout in Piazza Santo Spirito, until I tasted their truffle hamburger which was exquisite.  Italy has a history of absorbing from cultures around it and converting them into something uniquely Italian. 

Our painting group's base twenty minutes from Florence: Querce Seconda, Romola, Tuscany

Our painting group's base twenty minutes from Florence: Querce Seconda, Romola, Tuscany

Watch the video of our two month painting trip in English or Italian:

I encourage you to experience the full variety of cultures we encountered by viewing the video of our journey. It is designed to inform and entertain you, so set aside forty minutes. Pour yourself a glass of wine and click the title to enjoy  From Sicily to Emilia-Romagna: through Artists' eyes 

Questa è la versione Italiana:  Dalla Sicilia all'Emilia-Romagna: attraverso gli occhi degli artisti

The music of Hugo Wainzinger and Al Fabrizio is a marvelous addition to this video. If you like their adaptations for guitar and mandolin, you may find more of their music  - and buy their CDs at: www.heartstringsmusic.com

Returning to the Mission District

( These paintings and many more will be on exhibition at the Alley Cat Gallery in the Mission from Dec 15 to Jan 9. Scroll to the bottom of this blog for more information.)

Returning to the Mission District from the streets of Italy was an easy transition. Latino culture has a strong American indigenous character, but as the word Latino implies, it also shares cultural roots with Italy. Ever since I lived in Italy, in the late sixties, I've been aware of the difference between northern european cultures which dominate the United States and the southern Latin cultures. 

                                Capp and 24th Streets, oil/board, 20" X 28", 2014

                                Capp and 24th Streets, oil/board, 20" X 28", 2014

One of the most salient aspects of Latin culture is the extent to which it takes place on the street which makes it of particular interest to an outdoor painter. Family, community and self-expression, in all its forms, have a higher priority in the Latin world. This means that I am as warmly welcomed painting on the street in the Mission as I was in Italy.

It also means that I hardly ever have to search for models. Volunteers often step forward when I need them. As Roberto, from El Salvador, did when I needed a figure crossing the street in this painting.

                                 Incoming Fog, ( at 22nd and S. Van Ness) oil/board, 20" X 28", 2014

                                 Incoming Fog, ( at 22nd and S. Van Ness) oil/board, 20" X 28", 2014

I've met so many interesting people that I plan, next year, to shift some of my focus from cityscapes to street portraits.

Gentrification and eviction

Gentrification remains the paramount issue in the Mission.The Day of the Dead celebration on the evening of Nov 2 was even larger than last year's. It included several floats. One of which halted at Harrison and 24th street while a gentleman, on the float, gave an impassioned speech. Citing one landlord's attempt to evict a 99 year old woman who has lived in the Mission for over forty years, he implored the crowd to respect "those who care for your children, prepare your food, clean your homes. We have a right to live in our own community."

                Indian Summer in the Mission, ( Harrison and 24th ), oil on board, 20" X 28", 2014

                Indian Summer in the Mission, ( Harrison and 24th ), oil on board, 20" X 28", 2014

An unfortunate corollary of the demographic shift in the Mission, is that many locals feel they are being racially profiled by newcomers who stereotype them out of cultural ignorance. Eight months ago there was a brutal police slaying of a young Latino, Alex Nieto, a full time scholarship student at CCSF.  Someone in the neighborhood had called the police because they had seen "a Latin male adult with a red jacket, black pants and a handgun on his hip pacing near a bench on Bernal Hill" Alex was eating a burrito before he went to his job as a security guard. The 'gun' on his belt was a clearly marked Taser. He was shot fourteen times and killed. Witnesses reported that he had provided no provocation. 

                             Bernal Panorama, oil/board, 20" X 48", 2010

                             Bernal Panorama, oil/board, 20" X 48", 2010

Alex was remembered with his own room at this years' Dia de los Muertos rooms for the dead exhibition at the SOMARTS Gallery. Titled "Visions at Twilight: Dia de los Muertos 2014" the show was curated by artist and activist René Yañez and his son Rio. Renee, who also faces eviction, had this to say about the exhibition.

“In this time of displacement our Day of the Dead exhibition focuses on the evictions of families, artists, cultural centers, and non-profit spaces, calling on artists to question and challenge the people and policies that are destroying the cultural fibers of the city and the Bay Area,”  

Arriving a little late for the opening of the exhibition, my wife and I were delighted to catch San Francisco's poet laureate Alejandro Murguia's  riveting delivery of  poetry and reminiscences. Pacing the stage with the alternating prance of a panther and strut of a peacock, he eloquently evoked the colors, sounds and textures of the Mission of his youth. He performed without notes in the  tradition of great oral poets.

                              Daniel Galvez Restores "Carnaval", oil/board, 20" X 28", 2014

                              Daniel Galvez Restores "Carnaval", oil/board, 20" X 28", 2014

View the Entire Mission District Series

I have just posted all the images from my successful exhibition at Alley Cat Gallery. Click here or on "In the Mission District" link, above, to view them.

Carnaval Time In The Mission

Carnaval Time In The Mission

My studio will continue to be open on Last Sunday of the month (1 - 6 pm May 25th & June 29th) in my absence. Click here or on "Visit Studio" above for detailed information.

Prints of the Mission District Series will be available again after I return from Italy. The two weeks before Christmas I will be returning with a sequel to this first exhibition at Alley Cat Gallery.