By Noma Faingold
The four-weekend-long San Francisco Open Studios (SFOS), presented by ArtSpan, is celebrating its 48th year with a welcomed return to in-person showcases after a couple of years of SFOS events were truncated due to the pandemic. The final weekend, Nov. 12-13, will be centered in the Richmond District with more than a dozen artists participating, each with a unique approach to creating and presenting their art to the public with no buffers.
The following participants are worth a closer look:
Anthony Carmona, 459 19th Ave.
“Open Studios is really beneficial. It fosters a sense of community,” said San Francisco native Anthony Carmona, who will be displaying his vibrant abstract paintings and more realistic ink drawings at his home studio. “That’s how I’ve gotten to know a few of my neighbors. They’ve been supportive of my work.”
He’s anticipating that this year the SFOS will bring him more exposure than the two previous times he participated.
Artist Anthony Carmona in his Richmond District home studio putting the finishing touches on a painting in his “Los Mercados” series. Photo by Noma Faingold.
“I want people to come into my place and just acknowledge who I am and see that I’m here,” Carmona said. “I have a lot of conviction and self-belief in my skills but I struggle with getting myself out there.”
Carmona, 35, is close to completing what he calls the “Los Mercados” series of 25 oil paintings, based on his travels to Mexico. Being bi-racial (his mother was born and raised in Chinatown and his father is originally from Mexico) has greatly influenced his work.
“My paintings express and celebrate who I am – my cultural identity and cultural heritage,” he said.
The “Los Mercados” series, inspired by hammocks Carmona photographed during his three most recent trips to Mexico, aims to blur the line between folk art/crafts/textiles and fine art.
“It’s an homage to the textile weavers,” he said. “I hope the viewer gets a sense not just of the place or the market where I saw the hammocks, but also recognize the textile artists who created them.”
Each layered piece takes about two months to complete. Carmona, who earned a BFA at UCLA in 2009, has put himself in an extraordinary position of being able to take considerable time with each painting.
It didn’t start out that way.
Like many new art school graduates, he moved to New York.
“I wanted to live that romantic dream,” he said.
Instead, it was a struggle, even though he shared an apartment with his twin brother, Pierre, who was in graduate school at New York University.
“I was the poor, starving artist, living week to week,” said Carmona, who became an artist’s assistant, after a series of random jobs.
Carmona – who lists his artistic heroes as San Francisco’s Chelsea Ryoko Wong and masters Diego Rivera and Wassily Kandinsky, among others – came to the realization that life as an undiscovered artist in New York wasn’t sustainable.
“I did have fun,” he said. “I encourage every artist to go to New York, just to experience it,” he said.
Anthony Carmona concentrates on the details of one of his paintings in his “Los Mercados” series. Photo by Noma Faingold.
He thought seriously about going to law school, even taking the LSAT. But he knew that once he went to law school, he would be turning his back on his art for good. Instead, he returned to San Francisco and fast-tracked himself through the paralegal program at San Francisco State University. He spent 10 years in the demanding profession, saving his money, while painting and drawing when he could.
He heard from a few artists friends, who thought he was a “sellout.” But he knew differently. He had a plan: to save enough to take three years off to just paint and build a body of work.
Carmona, whose home studio is in the street-level unit of the family home, is two years into his stint as a full-time artist. He paints six to eight hours each day.
“It has been the most rewarding and fulfilling thing I’ve ever done,” he said. “I am in a place of privilege of being able to focus and create a body of work I’m really satisfied with.”
He has sold only a few paintings, not that there hasn’t been a number of offers. As of now, he is not ready to part with his collection.
“I’m torn,” said Carmona. “I will have to learn to let go and start somewhere.”
He admits his current point of view is atypical.
“A piece can exist on its own, but I’d rather have a buyer take the whole series because they belong together,” he said. “Galleries aren’t really into that idea. It’s a luxury for me to say to someone, ‘You have to buy the whole thing.’”
Carmona does sell quite a few prints, however, including drawings of Golden State Warriors’ stars in action, such as Klay Thompson. His landscape drawings of Richmond District landmarks, including the Conservatory of Flowers and Baker Beach, exude nostalgia.
“These are places where I had good times as a kid,” he said.
Adele Louise Shaw, The Internet Archive, 300 Funston Ave.
While Adele Louise Shaw has most recently been producing abstract watercolors in splashy, pleasing hues, what she really wants people to experience is an immersive, multi-sensory art installation she and her husband, Larry Dieterich, created a few years ago, titled, “Second Bite: The Wisdom of the Apple.”
Shaw, 55, who lived in San Francisco for 20 years (and still has a studio in Dogpatch), first mounted the installation in Davis, where she and Dieterich currently live. She describes the large work as “techno-feminist activist art.” The ever-changing images flashing by on stacks of computer monitors guarantee that every visitor will have “a unique experience that can never be replicated in the same sequence,” said Shaw.
Husband and wife collaborators, Larry Dieterich and Adele Louise Shaw, with their multi-sensory art installation titled, “Second Bite: The Wisdom of the Apple” at the Internet Archive, 300 Funston Ave. Photo by Renee Beldocchi.
“It’s a snapshot of the human condition, as seen through the visage of women,” she said.
It’s the 23rd year that Shaw, who is also a bookmaker and paints impressionistic landscapes, has shown work at SFOS. She is most excited for San Franciscans to experience the thought-provoking installation.
“There is a spiritual aspect to it. If technology is the new religion, we are asking people to think about it for a bit,” she said. “We’ve blown a lot of minds with this. It brings up a lot of stuff for people but it’s also empowering.”
In addition to the SFOS Nov. 12-13 dates, the installation will continue to be open to the public every Sunday, from noon to 6 p.m.
Ron King, NOISE (record store), 3427 Balboa St.
Watercolor and plein air painter Ron King, 81, didn’t start taking his art seriously until after he retired in 2017. He never went to art school, but he had two passions growing up in the small Vermont town of Springfield: drawing and science.
“In high school, when Sputnik happened, I joined the space race,” said the former aerospace engineer (a.k.a., rocket scientist).
It is the fourth time King has exhibited at SFOS. As in past years, he will be setting up in front of the record store NOISE. Two of his classmates at Sharon Art Studio in Golden Gate Park, Carol Blanton and Anita O’Brien, will also be showing their work at the site.
King, who favors painting urban landscapes, moved to the Bay Area in 1977 with Lin Fraser, his wife of 40 years, and their son. His home studio is in West Portal but he prefers to be outside creating plein air works.
“I like the freedom of choosing my view,” he said. “It’s also nice to be out and about.”
The pandemic proved to be a boost to King’s development as an artist. He was painting every day. At SFOS he plans to display 16 framed paintings, ranging in price from $150 to $400. At last year’s event, he sold nine paintings.
“I’m not in it for the money,” he said. “It’s more about sharing my feelings through art.”
San Francisco Open Studios, presented by ArtSpan, will conclude on Nov. 12-13 in the Richmond District (north quadrant). Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. For more information (including artist map), go to artspan.org/sfos.
Leave a Reply