Local Artist Leah Rosenberg Paints the Outer Sunset, One Color at a Time

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For the last two months, Bernal Heights-based artist and California College of the Arts graduate Leah Rosenberg has been painting a small storefront—three walls, a floor, a desk, a chair, and a vase—a different color every day. The whole thing, covered in a single solid hue. It's out on Irving Street, a block from Outerlands and Trouble Coffee in the Outer Sunset, and Rosenberg decides which colors to use based on what she finds in the neighborhood: an acid yellow fence, the pistachio exterior of the Francis Scott Key Elementary School Auditorium, a light purple crab on Ocean Beach.


“I keep thinking of this one line I like, 'And you call yourself a painter,'" Rosenberg says with a laugh, “because painting as a verb, the actual act of applying color to a surface, that is fundamentally what it is." And yet the installation, part of Kelly Falzone Inouye's residency space Irving Street Projects, has become something more. Locals who might otherwise walk down Judah, stroll Irving instead to see what the color of the day is (Rosenberg keeps a handy sandwich board out front). Kids come by after school to help. Recently, Rosenberg took everyone on an “inspiration walk" to all the spots that sparked her creativity. In a way, she's been painting the landscape of the Outer Sunset.


On Monday, Rosenberg's talents will be on display further inland, at The Mill, where she's installing a site-specific color-based piece. (A former baker at Miette and then Blue Bottle, Rosenberg and The Mill's Josey Baker are food world friends.) “It's a beautiful space," Rosenberg says of the coffee shop and bakery. “I see the pattern of the tile and the pattern of the shelving with the merchandise on it, and I want to intervene with my color palette. I'm just trying to make them not look too good, like when you see two colors together and think, 'Oh that reminds me of that.' I also want to add a little grayness to it, so it's not blinding."


The Mill exhibit will be up through July 7, and "Everyday A Color" closes on May 29. (If you miss it, posters of her color key, printed by Aesthetic Union, will be on her site eatthisplease.com). Then Rosenberg will start work on two more wall installations, one for a private client's breakfast nook and another down in Culver City, before heading to Omaha for a residency at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art.

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