Wednesday, October 1, 2008

McGaw and Thiebaud Gallery - walks in North Beach

Thomas Albright describes McGaw’s style as “expressionistic, with angular forms and dissonant color combinations.” I’d say that this is very true of his exhibit at SFAI. The brochure that accompanies the show claims that his painting expresses his “keen interest in the history of European painting, “ and a “carefully modulated deployment and adroit crystallization of….figure, color and pictorial architecture. “ I’d say that this is art critic speak for work that’s figurative, very influenced by the color palate of the 60’s and could have benefited by some serious editing. Although I appreciated the technique, I felt that a lot of the work was up just because, as a teacher at the SFAI, he had an open forum. How many people will struggle up those steep hills to view the show except those who already know and like him and/ or his work? But putting up work because you have a license to do so doesn’t impress the viewer who is not already connected to him. If the work had been edited down to pieces that evoked genuine emotion, the show would have been a lot stronger.

But there is always the beautifully designed courtyard, the fountain and the students who get to enjoy this harmonious corner of what's left of the old SFAI.

At the bottom of the hill is the Charles Campbell Gallery (formerly Campbell-Thiebaud) which is now closed. I spent an interesting internship summer there and knew at the time that the guy who was running it wasn't up to Charlie's standards. It was a far cry from the glory days when anybody who was anybody in the SF art scene was shown here. Better the gallery close than see its reputation and standards decline. But it still saddens me to see such an important part of SF's art history closed. Sic transit gloria mundi

However, the tiny Thiebaud Gallery right around the corner is still keeping the faith. The current show “25 Treasures” shows an eclectic selection of art – from Bay Area painter Joan Brown (represented by a quirky and charming, self-portrait) to Matisse, Rousseau, Gorky and assorted other artists. It’s easy to walk by the unobtrusive storefront galley but it’s worth taking the time to go in and look.

Then, to make this really an "old" North Beach experience, stop by the US Cafe. It's been revised by new owners but it's still Italian and still serving the best pesto pasta in the city.

Bruce McGaw at the SFAI: Sept 23-October 4th

Twenty-Five Treasures
Paul Thiebaud Gallery (SF)
718 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
September 9, 2008 - November 8, 2008

(images from the website)

Thomas Albright, “Art in the San Francisco Bay Area: 1945-1980. University of California Press. 1985


tangobaby said...

I have never been to the US Cafe, but I see it and think I should give it a try. Now I'll know what to order and will be sure to see the gallery nearby.

sfmike said...

I'm still not quite over my personal devastation from the closing of the US Cafe at Columbus and Stockton some years ago. Those Italian grandmas fed me beautifully and inexpensively for over 30 years. Glad to hear the reopened version on Columbus is still going strong since I don't ever get to North Beach anymore. When I do, I'll pop in.

Zoomie said...

You should have a sideline as an art critic. The Guardian could use your observations of the art scene.

namastenancy said...

Tangobaby and SF Mike: all the food at the "new" US cafe is fabulous. The owner is from Sicily and I think that some of the original ladies from the "old" US cafe are in the kitchen.
Mike - I know how you felt when the original closed. I remember going there for lunch after my classes at the SFAI. We were all there, chowing down on great pasta and cheap wine and loving the Bohemian aura of North Beach in those days - before it became a cheezy, cheap tourist destination.
Zoomie - What a good idea! I never though about writing for a paper. I should explore that option although I suspect that the Guardian wants people who love the tattoo and cartoon art which I despise. But there might be other newspapers which I could write for.

Anonymous said...

Hey Nancy. Ages ago (over 20 years) I wrote a bit for the Bay Guardian. If I could do it back then you sure could do it now.

Zoomie said...

Don't count yourself out, Kiddo - give it a try! If they insist on loving tattoo and cartoon art, you can move on, but I'll be they'd be interested in your writing!

namastenancy said...

Such compliments! I'm blushing!