3 San Francisco Art Collectors Show off Their Most Prized Possessions
(All photography courtesy of Patricia Chang)

3 San Francisco Art Collectors Show off Their Most Prized Possessions


From now until November 6th, 800 emerging, local artists are opening their homes and studios to showcase their best works as part of San Francisco Open Studios, the oldest and largest San Francisco art exhibition. To celebrate, we visited the homes of three local art collectors to see their favorite Open Studios acquisitions.

Inside the Home of Chris Gilbert

Chris Gilbert, 46, works in the medical industry and lives with his brother on the second floor of a Victorian house in Noe Valley. An avid art collector and active member of Artspan, a local non-profit art organization, Gilbert has sourced many pieces at San Francisco Open Studios over the years. In the entryway of his home, which is decorated with mid-century vintage finds, hang a large picture by Boston-based photographer Peter Harris, which captures the Big Dig in Boston. On the opposite wall is Giratutto: Wheel of Life by San Francisco painter Rachel Znerold, which depicts a colorful rotating wheel. Znerold actually specifically recommended the painting for Gilbert. "On these walls are all my friends," says Gilbert, who started collecting in 1991. "For me, each piece has an emotional value because it is part of my community."

His favorite paintings are those by Paul Madonna, specifically Franklin Street, San Francisco (2007), which is located in the living room. "I like Paul's urban art and illustration. He has an incredible talent for telling you the story behind the image." Paul Madonna and Gilbert are close friends and a few years ago the artist bought Gilbert a portrait of a woman drawn on a piece of cardboard. It lives above the fireplace with other drawings. "When he gave it to me he said that when he saw it he thought of me. I think he paid five dollars for it. I love it."

(All photography by Patricia Chang)

Inside the Home of Cynthia Farner

Cynthia Farner's art collection includes more than 200 pieces. "I started to collect seriously when I moved into this house in 1991. A friend of mine introduced me to local artists," says Farner, a doctor, who lives in a two-story, Spanish-style home on the edge of the Presidio "The first piece I bought was at 66 Balmy, a gallery that no longer exists. It's a painting by Gage Opdenbrouw, a Bay Area artist who has been involved in Open Studios and now lives in Oakland. The exhibition announcement showed the image of a woman—I loved it and I bought the painting before the opening," she says, pointing to the piece in the living room. Farner has other pieces by Opdenbrouw, including one of the San Francisco cityscape at dawn, which hangs in her entryway, and another in her bedroom, a peaceful, closeup landscape of tree trunks in a forest with muted green sunlight streaming through them. "When I come home, I love to see all my paintings. They can cause different emotions. I couldn't imagine my home without them."

Also on the walls are many local artists who are participating in Open Studiosthis year, including John Mann and Silvia Poloto. "I bought a Poloto piece, which had on it a young lady in the background and a giraffe on a foreground, at an art auction. The artist told me that she was going to finish it with a gunshot. When it was supposed to be delivered to my house, she called me saying that it was almost finished but she needed to take it to the shooting range. This is one of the reasons why I love to collect. The beauty of having a personal relationship with great people."

(All photography by Patricia Chang)

Inside the Home of Brian Cullen

Brian Cullen says he stopped counting the pieces in his art collection when he reached 100. As you enter his Cole Valley Victorian, you're completely surrounded by paintings—it's an "art path" that includes the illustrations of Eric Rewitzer and Annie Galvin, co-owners of 3 Fish Studios. "I started collecting 10 or 15 years ago. I've always loved art and collecting was a good way to meet interesting people."

The collection mostly comprises local artists that belong to Artspan and take part in Open Studios. "I like to see the progress of the artists over the years. I like to see how their work has developed and changed," he says. This is one of the reasons why there are many recurring artists in the collection, including, Laura Hapka, Linda Yoshizawa and Kristina Quinones, who once gave him the shoes she wears while she paints. "I was at her studio with other people and she was carrying these heavy shoes covered in paint. She told us that she was going to throw them away because it was impossible to walk. I offered to buy one shoe because I saw on it all her hard work and I perceived it as part of her art collection. Another guy bought the other shoe."

(All photography by Patricia Chang)

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