Michelle Grabner's "Gingham" at Rocket Gallery, Art Forum Critic's pick

Michelle Grabner
4-6 Sheep Lane
October 14, 2015–January 16, 2016

Michelle Grabner, Untitled [cadmium red deep/green], 2015, oil, gesso, burlap, 24 x 48".

For over twenty years, Michelle Grabner has taken the vernacular patterns of domesticity as a departure point for the creation of abstract paintings. For “Gingham,” her latest exhibition, the artist transmogrifies this common, happy-looking, and picnic-ready fabric into thickly painted works on rough burlap.

From a distance, Untitled [cadmium red deep/green], 2015, looks like a crisscross of red stripes on a white ground. Up close, it reveals itself actually to be made up of pink, red, and white squares over a green ground, the red and pink squares butting against each other in synchronous harmony. The green ground seeping out from beneath each square creates moments of chromatic vibration, loosening the representation of “gingham” into an odd geometric abstraction, a relative of psychedelic Op.

In the project space, Grabner has partially reconstructed her first show at the gallery, “Home Painting,” from 1998. In this installation, seven enamel-on-panel paintings are hung alongside a monitor playing an episode of Martha Stewart’s 1990s television show. “Home Painting” is a marvelous opportunity to see the artist’s graphic, painterly evolution. Her “Gingham” works are fat, voluptuous—rather in stark contrast to the lighter and more fluid stenciling of the older paintings. Grabner’s current pieces, as is made clear through the parallel shows, have become slower to the gaze, transcending the prosaic Martha Stewart domesticity of her inspiration.

— Sherman Sam

an essay on Charles Linder's "Pinnochio" - via The Modern Review


by Daniel Kine

published via The Modern Review


In an interview with the Smithsonian’s Archive of American Art, Paul Karlstorm described Charles Linder’s Refusalon, an unstructured multimedia and lifestyle exhibition centered in San Francisco SOMA District in the mid 1990’s, as “A conceptual piece investigating the often conflicting worlds of creative idealism and business realities.” More than a decade later, Linder’s application, much like the city where he resides (San Francisco), seems motivated by a similar subject: divergence.

At the center of Linder’s fourth solo exhibition, Fencing Luminaries, which recently ran at San Francisco’s Gallery 16, was the sculptural work, Pinocchio. A dexterously hand carved frame, fixing a mirror, from the center of which protrudes a common household plunger. Simple and, bearing its title in mind, deceivingly unadorned in metaphor. And yet the state of modern art and the city of San Francisco loom heavy here, both in visceral extremes. The childish fairytale, the interlaced skill and elegance of tradition in handcrafted ornamentation, and the prop—the emblem of an idea at once sustainable, consumable, and dismissible.           

Samuel Beckett wrote of mundane, detailed scenarios. Nothing vivid, no action. The plot consisted of the lives that these common characters had or had not led before entering into the lights of the stage. Often Beckett’s audiences cited, if not boredom, confusion. They could get this at home, these muddled dialogues and subjective non-illuminations. No one was attending the theatre with the intention of seeing themselves, rather their presence as spectators was predicated on the belief that, in order to escape, one must present themselves with a perceived potential. A possibility. Something new.

For the majority of those attending galleries and exhibitions of contemporary art, daily American life consists chiefly of a specifically mundane separation—the narrative of the self separated from the idea of the displayed work or their own romanticized notion of the life of the artist, and the separation of oneself from their surroundings. When asked by a critic why he made such boring films, Godard once said that he did so because people lead boring lives. They work selling products, like hamburgers, which they themselves do not believe in or care about, and then they leave work and come to the cinema to relax, to get away from reality and to see themselves or what they could, in some alternate reality, one day be. And so why not give them what they want: themselves. Their mundane, fragmented and senseless lives. A hamburger.

That said, there is no surrealism or superheroes or vivid illustrations present in Linder’sPinocchio. There is, however, a plunger, a frame, and a mirror. There is an idea, the face of the spectator, and the background consisting of patrons of contemporary art coming and going from an exhibition to the city of San Francisco. And of course, there is Pinocchio, who, through his own delusion, has descended into a disturbingly mediocre and yet palatable version of hell.

Tucker Nichols on Design Matters with Debbie Millman

We're pleased to share an excellent audio interview between Debbie Millman and Tucker Nichols, posted December 28 on Design Observer. Listen to the full interview here!


TN: "I don't care as much about what it's all for. I think I care less and less all the time - particularly in my studio when I'm painting or drawing - I think as time goes on I grant myself more and more permission to just let the thing become whatever it's become and then to be extremely rigid in my judging of that thing the next day. And if I don't like it, to kill it. And if I like it, to keep it, defend it protect it, whatever it needs. But at the time of making it I'm not really thinking. I'm thinking as little as possible. Or I'm trying to compress the amount of time that I spend when I'm making it into as tight as space as I possibly can. And sometimes that works out really well and sometimes it doesn't, but it can't afford attachment. That process gets poisoned by liking something as I'm making it. So, that just means theres a whole different wave that comes after thats about evaluating. And that process needs to be really close."

Debbie Millman

Tucker Nichols

Tucker Nichols - br1529

Tucker Nichols is an artist based in Northern California. His work has been featured at the Drawing Center in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Denver Art Museum, Den Frie Museum in Copenhagen, and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. His drawings have been published inMcSweeney's, The Thing Quarterly, Nieves Books and the Op-Ed pages of The New York Times. He is co-author of the books, Crabtreeand This Bridge Will Not Be Gray.

On this episode Debbie talks to artist Tucker Nichols about his art, and the quality of the art he loves. "What I care about is that there was something htat was driving them, that they couldn't have not done this if they wanted to. It had to happen."

Debbie Millman

Thomas Heinser featured on LensCulture

December 2015

Thomas Heinser - BaySalt_905
Thomas Heinser - BaySalt_905

Überblick // Overview

Across aerial, studio and location photography, Thomas Heinser employs his distinctive aesthetic and technical expertise—not to mention helicopters, cherry pickers and subtle, natural light—to create a compelling body of landscape photography.

In Überblick, which consists of three ongoing bodies of work, photographer Thomas Heinser surveys the earth from above, finding the graphic intersection of nature and structure, of man and landscape—and recent changes to that landscape. The project, which is translated as "overview" or "view from above," began as an aerial survey of feats of architecture and engineering. As it grew, Heinser began to see the images as a means of decoding the beauty of structures that serve man in crucial ways.

Heinser ended up reaching beyond this exploration to create a series at once aesthetic and, as a subtext, documentary in nature. Their essential stillness and innate sculptural qualities set them apart.


Beginning in 2009, Heinser began to investigate the interaction of man-made structures and landscape, specifically, aerial views of bridges, expressways and airport runways. In this series, he asks us to re-imagine these structures as more than arteries of action, depicting them as stand-alone semiological elements. He extends our perceptions of these agents of everyday interactions, contemplating the concept of "bridging" in a broader way.

This body of work includes views of some of the world's most distinctive bridges, airport runways and architectural/functional structures, from Lisbon and Millau to New York and San Francisco.

Heinser picked each bridge for its potential to illustrate a specific point of view, although he emphasizes that his goal was not to describe but to photographically capture how these structures function as graphic subjects. The photos depict both large and small bridges, as well as empty ones, including a new span of the Bay Bridge, which was under construction when photographed. His inspiration to shoot it at this time was that its antithetical emptiness allowed him to see it with fresh eyes (it's just next to his Northern California home after all). Here, we view it as a structure normally activated by presence but now defined by absence, a conduit created by man but temporarily devoid of usage.

Heinser says that he isn't trying to address the concept of scale but in fact is trying to avoid it. "The way I use the aerial perspective," he says "is by cutting out any horizon line, reducing landscape into more of a two-dimensional image. I try to avoid representing the dimensional aspect of landscape, and of scale altogether."

Changing Landscapes

In documenting a terrain transformed by fire and drought damage, Heinser's original interest was in reworking photographic language to describe the landscape. His concern about environmental change led him to document these changes in ways that bridge the binary of aerial distance and the poignant, on the ground realities that face humans and their contemporary lands. Some of these images, including one of bare pines and their shadows in the ashen landscape, are from Lake County, where in the fall of 2015 fires cost people their lives, homes and tens of thousands of acres.

All over the state, drought is reshaping California's natural and agricultural landscape and restricting its water usage. Heinser's engagement with these changes is a way of challenging photography's borders.

From far above, houseboats floating on a lake look like abandoned refrigerators: the lake's water level is now so low that the dock no longer leads to the shore. Groves of almond trees wither because their grower can't afford to water them anymore. The ghostly, shadowy image of an old train bridge refers to its recent emergence after years of aquatic immersion. A curvy anthropometric patch of land is rendered as purely sculptural figure and form, its shape, rimmed by concentric rings, a record of earlier water levels.

Heinser's response to these environments is to expand their meaning, to render them simultaneously as evidence of environmental impact but also to resist the limitations of geographical categories. "The mystery about the objects in the images, their not being 'readable' is what is important," he says. "Looking at houseboats—you're not necessarily recognizing them, until you closely look at the image. I'm interested in creating these kinds of patterns."

"The difference between the conduits and this landscape work," he adds, "is that with the landscapes I am reacting to a more organic shape—almost like body shapes. They summon an internal, connected-to-the-earth response."

Salt Ponds

The Bay Area is home to some 8,000 acres of salt evaporation ponds, and site of one of only two sea salt works in the country. The clay soils and Mediterranean climate here traditionally provide ideal salt making conditions. Environmental changes disrupting the moderate rainfall characterizing this climate have also affected the ponds.

The shallow man-made ponds that extract salt from seawater deposits and naturally evaporate it are also protected wildlife refuge areas and an important component of the ecosystem. Algae and other microorganisms regulate water quality as well as anchor the local ecosystem and local marshes supporting more than a million shorebirds, waterfowl and other wildlife, including over 70 species of birds and several endangered species.

These evaporation ponds are something we only occasionally glimpse when approaching SFO, San Francisco international airport, marvelling at their vibrant colors—magenta, green, blue, yellow and pink—resulting from microorganisms at varying salinity levels.

But Heinser has gone a step further, transforming these oft-ignored ponds into indecipherable calligraphic carpets in bright hues. His quintessentially painterly images, drawing from a quotidian daily feature of the landscape, attain the level of purely aesthetic abstractions. By isolating landscape elements from such a distance, Heinser's seemingly close-up captures paradoxically create the look of a painting's blown-up detail. What seems like thickly layered, paint-cracked impasto, is in fact photographed from hundreds of feet up in the air. Heinser says, "the content is almost secondary to photography turning it into something else," adding that he is "looking for a place of resolution" within these landscapes, one that has "a composition and order to it."

—Doreen Schmid

Josh Jefferson "Head Into The Trees" // November 13, 6-9 PM

Josh Jefferson: Head Into The Trees, November 13 - DEcember 31, 2015  

Josh Jefferson / Head Into The Trees

November 13-December 30, 2015

Opening reception 6-9 pm, Friday November 13th

Music by DJ Cliff Hengst

Gallery 16 is thrilled to announce our first exhibition with Boston-based artist Josh Jefferson.

Jefferson’s painting and works on paper balance on a line between figureation and abstraction. His work is a celebration of abandon and control. It retains a palpable sense of the joy in it’s making and the struggling to maintain order. Jefferson’s choice of materials often reinforce the sense of playfulness in his work. The artist uses crayons, colored pencils and common acrylic paint, often upon the pages of art history books. It is not uncommon to turn over a Jefferson drawing to find the image of a famous work by Mondigliani or Titian.

2015 has been an exciting year for the artist. He has mounted shows in New York and Los Angeles as well as a number of feature articles including Forbes Magazine. His work has become an internet sensation with tens of thousands of Instagram followers, proving that new ways to discover the arts are constantly evolving.

In a interview with Beautiful/Decay, Jefferson described his style and motivations: “What really gets me excited is when I see a painting that seems effortless — when an artist has confidence and it appears that the painting came about like one fast whiplash moment. If I could convey that feeling of loose abandon and control I would be happy. The distortions and geometric interpretations in my drawings and paintings act as structures for me to build on and react to. I kind of need to repeat things to find their meaning, and the structures help with this process.”

Jefferson’s work combines material experimentation and visual simplicity. He frequently uses a collage process of cutting and combining previously painted works into a harmonious whole. Jefferson seems less concerned with the results of his labor, than he does with the enchantment of the studio alchemy. He makes objective and non objective work with equal regard. In order for this equilibrium to exist, curiosity must be the guiding voice. His improvisational style may be formed by his devotion to experimental jazz. Like his playing, his visual art is an accumulation of chance moments and intense focus.

gallery 16 / 501 Third st / san francisco, ca / 415 626 7495 / gallery16.com

Kimberly Chun reviews "Your Proportions Are Not That Exquisite" and "Invisible Fencing Luminaries"

SF Gate 2_Linder_Minaret(bottletree)


Painter, sculptor poke fun at modern-day metaphors

Updated 12:37 pm, Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Generation Selfie is sent up and the workshop is given a working over in Graham Gillmore’s “Your Proportions Are Not That Exquisite” and Charles Linder’s “Invisible Fencing Luminaries” at Gallery 16.

Text — playfully tweaked in proportion and juxtaposed at times with the naive imagery of old-fashioned children’s books — is at the center of the paintings by Canadian artist Gillmore. Throughout, he casts a skeptical, gimlet eye on the facile catchphrases that can sometimes pass for communication.

Linder, meanwhile, appears at the ready with his witty “Linderisms,” new sculpture and thoughts on the workshop as a metaphor. Here, the Bay Area artist — who began the Refusalon and Lincart galleries — pokes holes in “Geppetto’s Work Table” and builds up a temple to bubbly consumption with “Minaret (Bottle Tree),” his latest towering take on a recurring silhouette, stacked Champagne bottles, made of lathe-turned fir. Drink it in.

Kimberly Chun

Graham Gillmore: “Your Proportions Are Not That Exquisite” and Charles Linder: “Invisible Fencing Luminaries”: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. Through Nov. 7. Gallery 16, 501 Third St., S.F. (415) 626-7495. www.gallery16.com.

Fall Newsletter


Michelle Grabner "Weaving Art Into Life" installation

Since May, Michelle Grabner's solo exhibition, Michelle Grabner: Weaving Life into Art, curated by Tricia Y. Paik at Indianapolis Museum Of Art has garnered much praise and attention. The show will be up until November 15th.

The Thing Quarterly recently released its 27th issue with Michelle Grabner this month. It is a fully functional gingham soccer ball but it also functions as a rebuttal to Ken Johnson's 2014 NY Times review of the artist's exhibition last fall at James Cohan Gallery, in which he referred to her work as that of a boring 'soccer mom'. Served!

Rex Ray "Platismatia"

This past Friday, October 9, UCSF hosted its 19th Annual Art For Aids Auction. This year's auction was in held in honor of beloved artist Rex Ray, who passed away February 9, 2015. Griff Williams spoke about Rex’s life and art at the event. His original print, Plastmatia, brought in nearly $9,000 for the cause.


Amy Franceschini

Huge Congrats to Amy Franceschini / Futurefarmers who were nominated for the UK’s leading biennial art prize Artes Mundi. Artes Mundi 7 will present a major exhibition of new works by the shortlisted artists from October 21, 2016 to 26th February 2017 at National Museum Cardiff.

The shortlist for Artes Mundi 7 brings together 7 international contemporary artists who directly engage with everyday life through their practice and who explore contemporary social issues across the globe.


Jason Jägel "New Ways of Thinking"

Artist Jason Jägel will be discussing the inspiration behind his mural in current exhibition You Know I’m No Good, on view at the Contemporary Jewish Museum through November 1. 'Gallery Chat with Jason Jägel' will be Oct 30 @ 12:30pm at the CJM.

You Know I’m No Good presents works by a selection of contemporary artists that directly relate to the life and music of Amy Winehouse.


Cliff Hengst in "Mr. Akita"

This past month at the Tang Museum at Skidmore College, artist, comedian and performer Cliff Hengstdid a top-notch performance of "Mr. Akita", a one man play "in which a Borscht Belt comedian and an op-art painting, Sunburn by Emily Joyce, go 'head to façade' in a reminiscence of love, sex, art, failure and the sublime." The play was written and directed by Asher Hartman who called Hengst's a "magnificent performance."

Also just announced: Cliff Hengst is one of the five 2015 recipients of the Big Mac Arthur Awards. Awards ceremony will be held Saturday, October 24 at the Mel-O-Dee Lounge. Award ceremony and karaoke begin at 8 pm. The Big Mac Arthur Award is bestowed annually upon those deserving individuals who experienced mild disappointment when they learned they did not receive a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant.

Tucker Nichols & Dave Eggers - This Bridge Will Not Be Gray, now available

Tucker Nichols and Dave Eggers have just put out a new book, This Bridge Will Not Be Gray, published by McSweeney's, which was released this month.

"Eggers’s featherlight humor provides laughs throughout...Nichols’s (Crabtree) construction-paper cutouts and hand-lettering provide a series of puckish visual counterpoints for the story’s two important messages: that situations and objects that appear unchangeable do, in fact, come from somewhere, and that adults can squabble even more foolishly than children." - Publisher's Weekly

Inez Storer in conversation with Bill Berkson // September 17, 2015

  Inez Storer        Bill Berkson




501 3rd St. (x Bryant) / San Francisco, CA 94107

6-6:30 // Drinks & arrival

6:30 // Talk begins

7:30-8 // Book signing

Don’t miss this chance to hear legendary poet Bill Berkson and painter Inez Storer discuss their intersecting lives in the arts. The talk will take place on September 17th6-8pm and coincides with the release of Inez Storer’s new book Inez Storer: Allow Nothing To Worry You, a monograph of the artist’s career, produced by Gallery 16.  The book features writing about the artist's work by authors & artists Bill Berkson, Timothy Anglin Burgard, Bonnie Gangelhoff, Barbara Morris and Maria Porges. The book release comes in conjunction with the artist's solo exhibition Inez Storer: Memories from the Backlot  which opens October 6 at Seager Gray Gallery in Mill Valley, CA.

Renowned poet Bill Berkson is the author of some twenty books including a 2008 collaboration BILL with drawings by Colter Jacobsen, published by Gallery 16 Editions. His collection Portrait and Dream: New & Selected Poems won the Balcones Prize for Best Poetry Book of 2010 and was honored by the San Francisco Bay Guardian with the 2008 GOLDIE Award in Literature. He has collaborated with many artists and writers, including friends Alex Katz, Philip Guston, and Frank O’Hara and his criticism has appeared in ArtNews, Art in America, and elsewhere. Formerly a professor of liberal arts at the San Francisco Art Institute, he was born in New York in 1939, and now divides his time between San Francisco and Manhattan.

Inez Storer’s work has been exhibited in solo exhibitions consistently thorough the United States since 1971. Her work has been presented at institutions such as the San Jose Museum of Art, the Monterey Museum of Art, the Fresno Art Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts,  The National Museum of Jewish History, Philadelphia. Storer taught at the San Francisco Art Institute (1981- 1999), Sonoma State University (1976 - 1988), San Francisco State University (1970 - 1973), and the College of Marin (1968 - 1979). She has received numerous grants and awards, including a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant in 1999, and has worked twice as a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome (1997, 1996). Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Oakland Museum of California, the Lannan Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, the San Jose Museum of Art, and the de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University.

Inez Storer is represented by Seager Gray Gallery in Mill Valley, CA, and Gail Severn Gallery in Ketchum, ID.