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Stephen Beal
colored linens
SF34 - 11.16.13 - 12.21.13
stb101 For exhibition 34 we are pleased to be showing recent paintings by California College of Art President Stephen Beal. This is his third solo with the gallery in addition to a two-person we mounted in 2011 with Stephen Westfall. The current exhibition was conceived as the second of two parts begun in Los Angeles with Beal's white paintings and culminating in the San Francisco venue with his colored linens.

Beal continues his ongoing exploration of the grid in seemingly inexhaustible permutations, both as a motif and as an organizing structure for applying paint. He extends the vernacular of touch enabled by his medium of choice, a buttery and matte acrylic gouache, by splicing in the inherent qualities of the varied linens he uses as supports. The third leg of Beal's formal triad is his underlying pencil drawing, also seamlessly grafted into the painted image. It is much to his credit that he is able to continually break new ground with the devices and strictures of an ever-receding historical framework, given how worked over the grid has been in recent art. Beal succeeds because the grid structure, as prominent as it is in his practice, is largely beside the point of his achievement. One maxim warrants repeating: the image is in the paint. If we want to see painting we must look at the paint. This is equally true whether the paint is wrapped around a grid or a seascape. In Beal's case it is wrapped around a highly attuned sensibility.

Stephen Beal received his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1973 and has exhibited widely ever since. Many of these new works are documented in a 140-page book with 62 reproductions, Stephen Beal Whites and Linens, available from the gallery. The show runs through December 21.

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In our Potrero Hill space we are pleased to show new work by Los Angeles-based photographer Jennah Ward, cyanotypes from a series titled after the location of her LA studio on Pico Boulevard. Ward's art explores camera-less modes of photography, ways of drawing with light, and the impact that the final presentation of a print has on the original image. In the past she has worked with light boxes in darkrooms, transparent gel overlays and photographic manipulations both in and out of the darkroom. Her working method for this series is to coat paper with light sensitive emulsion—essentially the technology of old blueprints—and to expose these sheets in her studio, allowing the play of ambient sun through the windows to "draw" her imagery. She then mounts the print to beveled panels, imbuing her work with a heft somewhat at odds with the ethereal nature of their making. Ward achieves a remarkable range of hue and density within the constraints of her medium's characteristic blue and in the process wraps a body around the light that is both her tool and her motif. Ward received her MFA from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. A catalog accompanies the exhibition with an essay by Mario Cutajar.

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We are pleased to be showing in the Sutter Street space new paintings by Seattle-based artist Alma Chaney, her third solo with the gallery. An MFA graduate from the San Francisco Art Institute with a post-baccalaureate in painting from the School of Contemporary Art in Pont-Aven, France and a BFA in Illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design, Chaney also received a certificate in Scientific Illustration from the University of Washington. She brings something of this disciplined training to a milieu not often associated with precision, combining Old Master-style, crosshatched drawing in silverpoint and goldpoint with a turgid, gestural paint handling. The result stretches between a spatial depth reminiscent of Gustave Doré's illustrations to Milton and the kind of objective surface of a Robert Ryman. In these latest works, Chaney moves from her characteristic white to tertiary greens and oranges, bringing tonal color into play with her lacework drawing and calling up another historical reference to J.M.W. Turner. Her work remains responsive to the present, however, to the degree that she exploits the dichotomy of painting's dual reality: illusion and fact.

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island life

SF 31. For our inaugural show in the new Potrero Hill space we will be showing new paintings by British artist Erin Lawlor, her second solo with the gallery. Lawlor splits her time between London and Île St. Marie de Ré in France, and these works are selected from a suite she completed on the island this spring and summer. Her work is characterized by wide gestural handling, closely valued hues and a balance between emotional tone, evocations of the natural world, and pure painting. A 132 page catalog with 57 color reproductions accompanies the exhibition.

On September 7, 2013, the lower Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco will see a surge of contemporary art activity as four San Francisco art dealers launch inaugural shows in new gallery spaces on Utah Street and Potrero Avenue, each within a block of 16th Street. Catharine Clark, Brian Gross, Jack Fischer and George Lawson join area pioneer Todd Hosfelt who reopened here in 2012, shifting the epicenter of contemporary galleries from downtown. All five galleries will coordinate Saturday afternoon openings on September 7th. Catharine Clark is moving from her Minna Street location adjacent to SFMOMA, Brian Gross and Jack Fischer are moving from the 49 Geary building downtown, and we are returning from Los Angeles, adding to our Sutter Street location.

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