But other than museums and galleries, are there spaces where you can get a little more intimate with artists? Yup. Margo Moritz and I spent a couple days visiting our favorite home galleries, where locals have converted their kitchens, living rooms, and entire apartments into showrooms. These aren’t random enthusiasts hanging paintings for a handful of friends. On the contrary, they’re skilled curators who’ve created respected destinations for collectors, while welcoming visitors to interact with the artists displaying their work. Here’s a quick peek at our adventures.
Chris Sollars is a Mission-based artist whose work was picked for both the SFMOMA SECA Award and YBCA’s Bay Area Now show. He started his gallery as a response to the disappearing art spaces in San Francisco during the dot-com boom. The first event was A Site Launch in 2001, parodying the extravagant tech parties of the 1990s. Since then, every inch of his apartment has become fair game for an installation, including the kitchen where Chez Panisse chef Jerome Waag presented Flavour of Democracy Dinner , and the back living room where Portland
artist Christopher Buckingham completed I Have a Hole Too , the winning entry for the gallery’s hole-in-the-wall project. 667’s openings happen four to six times a year, and the current show, Next , exhibits artists’ ideas on ways to continue the Occupy movement.
Charlie and Heather’s light-filled space, Truesilver, is an act of love in more ways than one. Their wedding took place in the couple’s home gallery, and much of the work in Truesilver’s hefty permanent collection was given to them by local artist friends. Heather is executive director of ArtSpan and Charlie is a photographer and designer. Why’d they turn their living room into a gallery? The couple felt they got lucky when they found their Noe Valley apartment and wanted to “share it back” with the community. They have a half dozen shows annually, most recently for San Francisco visual artist Noah Wilson and the group show It’s Only Rock and Roll . Heather and Charlie worked together on exhibitions at SFMOMA, so are naturally able to divide their duties in the gallery. The couple’s furniture, such as their vintage couch, evolves as much as their wall space.
Mauri Skinfill is a musician who started thinking about running a gallery after she began collecting art, then quickly moved on to representing her favorite artists. When she and her husband Justin Kerr renovated their SOMA home, they decided to use the first floor as a dual kitchen and gallery space. Mauri peruses the graduate shows at CCA and San Francisco Art Institute looking for promising new talent to represent and she shows new work bimonthly. Among her finds is Matt Momchilov, a San Francisco rising star who focuses on American queer and youth culture. And then there’s a solo show coming up in March for Rose Eken of Berlin, who creates mind-blowing miniatures of Metallica’s band gear. Last year, Unspeakable Projects was invited to be part of ArtPadSF , showing alongside major galleries in the city.
Openings at Michelle’s home are always a lively treasure hunt. The artwork is usually intermixed with her personal belongings, from her dog’s toys to her vintage kitchen plates. You may even want to wander inside the bathroom so you don’t miss the latest pieces from Brooklyn-based artist Kottie Paloma. Michelle, a musician and indie record producer, has been steadily showing emerging work in her Mission apartment since 2005. The first events were “very quiet” noise shows in her backyard, and from there she started hosting regular solo openings for friends like urban folk artist Fred Rinne. Michelle named her gallery after her apartment building (Maybelle) and the funky pharaoh sculpture she found inside the storage area. The best part of visiting Pharaoh Maybelline is seeing art just as it would look in a real home.
Chris McCaw is a photographer whose work is in the permanent collection of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. He has a hands-off approach to his gallery, which is contained in a long hallway that’s been home to 40 art shows since 2005. Chris’ rules are simple: Any friend can show their work, so long as they install it, handle the sales, and clean up. Chris will print professional postcards, bring the whiskey, and keep his home open as late as the opening goes. The only thing he’s firm on is a $200 limit on each piece sold, and as a “non-gatekeeper” he doesn’t take a cut of sales. He shows new work six to eight times a year and has hosted an opening for well-known filmmaker Paul Clipson as well as a group show for Mills College students. He received a Southern Exposure Grant for 31 Rausch in 2007. Is he at all concerned about having artists install work into his floors, ceilings, and walls? Not really. “I just don’t want the upstairs landlord hearing much sawing through the floor,” he says.
Looking at art in Amir and Emmanuelle’s serene home is like taking a highly curated vacation out of the country. Amir, a builder and designer born in Iran, and Emmanuelle, a Parisian writer, have dedicated the entire first floor of their Pacific Heights home to showing work by international artists. Each year, they focus on one country—they’re currently spotlighting Belgium—with four to six different shows. World-renowned artists such as Renato Nicolodi are invited to live with them while exhibiting, and to use their garage as a workspace.
Truesilver has a show up for photographer Noah Wilson through February 1, 2012. You can go to its Facebook page or visit the website . The gallery is open by appointment — call (415) 359-5692 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unspeakable Projects announces its latest online and its Facebook page . Mauri’s gallery hours are Thursdays 6–8 p.m., Saturdays 1–4 p.m., and also by appointment. Email her at email@example.com.
Gallery Pharaoh Maybelline posts new events online . You can get on Michelle’s mailing list by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Pharaoh Maybelline is open by appointment.
31 Rausch posts announcements about new shows online . To see the chainsaw-friendly, yellow hallway between openings, make an appointment with Chris at (415) 552-8708.
Connect with Highlight Gallery on its Facebook page , or visit the website . Open Friday and Saturday from noon till 6 p.m. and by appointment. Call Amir at (415) 529-5221 or email email@example.com.