Thursday night was the kick off for the Gensler show Chroma.
The Gensler Art Committee is a volunteer group of individuals whose mission is to provide exposure for emerging arts and designers. Gensler offers the events as a way of giving back to the community and provide inspiration to the people who work in and visit their office. Gensler holds Art Series every quarter at their SF headquarters.
This exhibit curated by Michelle Heinemann of Gensler features well known street artists of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Ones first image when walking into the door is of Peter Gronquist’s mixed media sculpture featuring a taxidermy antelope with gold plated automatic weapons for horns. It is a beautiful piece with so much strength and a message that screams at you in 24-karat bling. Gronquists explanation is that he is imagining a ridiculous future where animals have evolved to fight back. He goes on to state that it also comments on masculinity, overt Americanism and excess. While his pieces are not for the faint of heart, and highly controversial, I could not agree more on the symbolism.
From there you are asked to wander the offices of Gensler. Situated on the fourth floor of the historical Hills Brothers Coffee Building at Harrison Street and the Embarcadero, the bare concrete walls of their offices make for the perfect clean palate as you ogle the view of the San Francisco Bay with the Bay Bridge as the focal point. The art you have come to view seems simply to be a continuation of the tastefully appointed expanse.
The remaining artists being featured are all painters. The roster reads like a who’s who of tech office artists and known SF street artists.
The first artist I encountered was Jet Martinez accompanied by his two adorable children. Jet’s artistic range is impressive. As Facebook’s first resident artist and director of the Clarion Alley Mural Project, Martinez has proved his ability to easily cross between the gallery and the street.
At Gensler he was showing a collection of fauna, but what truly struck me was “Ferrous Bamboo” . A nice diversion from his vibrantly colorful work that I most associate with him.
Ian Ross, the in-house resident artist at Facebook in 2011, also has proven over and over his ability to cross cultures, as it were. Despite having written often about Ian’s work I had never met him. When confronted with this kind, courteous and truly professional man accompanied by his stunning Brazilian wife Danielle it was obvious to me how he easily walks many paths. If that wasn’t enough, one of his murals in San Francisco was featured on the cover of the Wall Street Journal for a story called “Graffiti’s New Enemy, Legal Art” .
Ian’s work around town as well as in this show are broad vibrant strokes of color and form. A style easily recognizable as his and yet varied enough to not become stagnant or cliché.
As much as I had hoped to meet Chor Boogie, it was not to be. His work is recognizable no matter where he is painting in the world and has always been a draw for me. Chor uses only spray paint to create his works. This true to street art bent makes him one of the traditionalists in the gallery to street world. While most comfortable on the streets, Chor’s most recent project “The Divided State of America” was unveiled at the Democratic National Convention and is enjoying a national tour.
Another artist I missed meeting was Ricardo Richey. Painting under the name Apex on the streets, his work consists of colorful abstract patterns. The work he chose to show at Gensler was such a departure it took me a while to realize it was the same person. Three panels, all untitled, of black on canvas, reminiscent of Mark Rothko’s Chapel. This severe departure from form and color made for an interesting contemplative moment. I later learned from Ricardo this explanation of these pieces: “On the street people tag on doorways over and over again and the city paints it out every single time. Texture sometimes builds up and that gave me the idea of painting canvases like this. I enjoy exploring the ways that street art naturally mirrors fine art history”.
Max Ehrman aka E.O.N. 75 was the final artist in the show. Max received a masters in architecture from the Dessau Institute in Germany. That coupled with the fact that the exhibit was in an architecture office, one would expect more linear thinking, but that is hardly the case with E.O.N. 75. His work is vibrant, colorful and a mix of stroke and movement. There is a symphony in Max’s work that takes time to absorb and comprehend. There is nothing simple about it, and yet it will pull you in and force you to stand and study the interactions of light, color and movement until your head spins.
While it can seem intimidating to stroll through someone’s office, the Gensler Art Group has done an excellent job putting together a collection of work that will challenge, delight and make it worth your while.
Chroma runs through December 14th, Monday thru Friday from 8:30 to 5:30 pm at 2 Harrison Suite 400.
Get in touch with the author @PQPP3.