The New Guard: 5 of the City's Most Exciting New Galleries
Wake up: It’s art o’clock. We peek into five of the city’s newest galleries to find out what they’re showing, which local artists they’re watching, and how to start your own collection here and now.
Opened: September 2008
Owner: Eli Ridgway
Has his eyes on: Aubrey Learner, Zachary Royer Scholz, Orion Shepherd
On exhibit: Bay Area duo castaneda/reiman’s mixed media installation (June 4–July 16) and SF artist Travis Collinson’s paintings and drawings (July 23–Aug. 20)
Tip: “Prices for artwork vary greatly,” says Ridgway. “If a piece is a ‘reach,’ talk to the gallerist. Many new spaces are willing to work out payment plans.”
Baer Ridgway Gallery
Eli Ridgway opened his gallery doors 10 days before Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. “Right from the start, we had to change our business plan,” he says. “We never operated on a big budget anyway, so it was easier to take the hit.”
Ridgway and his former partner, who worked their way up from gallery internships, turned what was previously a loading and storage area into a sleek, open space—the kind of expansive gallery you might expect from a moneyed past. “I never guessed opening my own gallery would be possible until I saw a colleague do it,” he says. “I started taking business classes to prepare for the big move.” The guiding principle behind Baer Ridgway is to present culturally significant, cutting-edge work in a variety of mediums. The gallery originally focused on international and Bay Area artists. Later, it switched gears to represent emerging and mid-career talent (from here and across the U.S.) after Ridgway realized the advantages that the close collaborative process offered. “I’ve found that collectors here are very interested in supporting the local community, and they want the opportunity to meet the artists whose work they’re buying,” he says. 172 Minna St. (at Third), 415-777-1366.
Photo by Austin McManus
Opened: January 2009
Owners: Andrew McClintock (left) and Gregory Ito (right)
Have their eyes on: Chris Ritson, Guy Overfelt, Aaron Terry
On exhibit: Grass Valley artist Tahiti Pehrson’s 3-D paper-cut works (July 7–28) Tip: “Buy what you love,” says McClintock. “Art is a luxury item, but it’s a connection to culture.”
Owen Takabayashi's Chevron, 2010. Twist ties and pins.
As SF Art Institute grads, Andrew McClintock and Gregory Ito were well-poised to open a gallery. The two were drawn to a small Tenderloin space (previously a jewelry store that made gold teeth) because of the low overhead. They strive to maintain a level of conceptually driven work, which has drawn much praise from critics, press, and others in the art community. “We really push each artist’s vision,” says McClintock. “It’s not always about doing whatever we can to sell the work, and the pieces we show are not about trends.” The gallery exhibits a mix of emerging and mid-career artists, houses a number of site-specific installations, and offers a rotating residency program that transforms the space into an artist’s studio. The Luggage Store—a progressive nonprofit arts organization founded in 1987—is a fiscal sponsor, and in 2010, McClintock and Ito received a grant from the Kenneth Rainin Foundation to refurbish Ever Gold’s interior. “We want to encourage an ongoing artistic dialogue that bridges the gap between young and old,” says McClintock. “It’s like an artist’s salon.” 441 O’Farrell St. (at Taylor), 415-796-3676.
Opened: March 2010
Owner: Andres Guerrero
Has his eyes on: Ala Ebtekar, Chris Duncan, Andrew Schoultz
On exhibit: New York artist Mark Mulroney’s comic book–inspired paintings and SF artist Charles Linder’s swimming pool installation (July 17–Aug. 6) Tip: “Research, and be honest about your likes and dislikes,” says Guerrero. “Don’t feel compelled to follow trends. Think of it like building a wardrobe. You want pieces that will stand the test of time.”
Gallery owner Andres Guerrero reflected in Glen Baldridge's Angel Dust, 2011. Watercolor and pigment print on paper.
Tired of his nine-to-five job, Andres Guerrero decided to pursue his passion for the arts instead. With no formal training, he began putting together small shows at coffee shops and boutiques and collaborating with other galleries before opening his own space. The cavernous venue in the Mission is divided into a solo exhibition area and a smaller project room for newer artists. Nights occasionally feature live music or performances that complement what’s displayed on the walls. The gallery grew out of the graffiti movement, which Guerrero was particularly drawn to last year. Now, his exhibitions cross genres and mediums, and he chooses a diverse roster of artists whose work resonates with him personally. “I’m hungry for content,” says Guerrero. “I look for pieces that go beyond the visual. I want to engage in and learn from the work I’m showing.” He also involves his artists in the curation process. “They’re like family to me,” he says. “We share honest dialogue, and there’s a level of trust that you only get with close-knit partnerships.” 2700 19th St. (at York), 415-400-5168.
Opened: July 2010
Owners: Lauren Lanzisero, Jillian Mackintosh, and Joe Lumbroso
Have their eyes on: Robert Minervini, David Bayus, Meryl Pataky
On exhibit: San Francisco artist Lisa Congdon (July 2–30)
Tip: “Don’t buy art as an investment,” says Lanzisero. “There’s never a guarantee that what you purchase will appreciate in value over time.”
“Letter Collector” gallery reception, March 2011
Gallery Hijinks is out to change the idea that buying art is an intimidating process. In addition to building an inviting, unpretentious space, Lauren Lanzisero, Jillian Mackintosh, and Joe Lumbroso have made it easy to purchase their artists’ work online. “Buying from a website is considered taboo in the fine art world, but our online store has been one of our greatest selling tools,” says Lanzisero. “We have buyers from all over the world.” Their tech-friendly approach may have broken the traditional gallery model, but emerging collectors have responded well to it. Their varied backgrounds—Lanzisero’s art and graphic design training, Mackintosh’s marketing and public relatins know-how, and Lumbroso’s web and video expertise—no doubt give them a leg up. Their welcoming approach has helped break down the barrier between gallerist and art enthusiast. “Anyone can start their own collection. It’s just a matter of finding what is attainable for you,” says Mackintosh. “I found my first piece of art in the trash, and it’s still framed and hanging on my wall today.” 2309 Bryant St. (at 21st), 415-371-9330.
Gallery owner Joan McGloughlin in front of Christine Comyn's Nothing Really Matters
Opened: October 2010
Owner: Joan McLoughlin
Has her eyes on: Doug Thielscher, John Waguespack, David Middlebrook
On exhibit: Marin artist Laura Kimpton’s recycled mixed-media creations (June 2–July 30)
Tip: “Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” says McLoughlin. “It’s the gallerist’s responsibility to help.”
Gallery grand opening, October 2010
With a background in medical device startups, Joan McLoughlin couldn’t have been further from a career in art. That is until she survived a battle with breast cancer and gave up her past to pursue a lifelong dream of opening a gallery. “My appreciation and knowledge of art grew as I traveled the world visiting museums and getting to know revered contemporary art dealers,” McLoughlin says. She also received a more formal education from Lanier Graham, former curator of painting and sculpture for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. She spent months getting up to speed in gallery management and art curation before opening what has quickly become a reputable (and the third largest) space in the prestigious 49 Geary art complex. In short order, the gallery’s participated in two of the city’s art fairs and regularly draws a crowd of 300 to First Thursday art walks. McLoughlin attributes this to her unique approach to marketing the mix of established European and emerging American artists she represents. “It’s always a challenge to amass a loyal base of collectors, but it’s all about networking and making yourself visible in the community,” she says. 49 Geary St., Suite 200 (at Kearny), 415-986-4799.