By Noma Faingold
The four-weekend San Francisco Open Studios (SFOS), presented by ArtSpan, celebrates its 48th year with a welcome return to in-person showcases after several years of SFOS events were cut short due to the pandemic. The final weekend of November 12-13 takes place in the Richmond District, bringing together more than a dozen artists, each with a unique approach to creating and presenting their art to the public without buffers.
The following participants are worth a closer look:
Anthony Carmona, 459 19th Ave.
“Open Studios is really beneficial. It encourages a sense of community,” said San Francisco native Anthony Carmona, who will be exhibiting his vibrant abstract paintings and more realistic ink drawings in his home studio. “That’s how I met some of my neighbors. You have supported my work.”
He expects this year’s SFOS to bring him more exposure than the previous two times he’s attended.
Artist Anthony Carmona puts the finishing touches to a painting in his Los Mercados series at his home studio in the Richmond District. Photo by Noma Faingold.
“I want people to come in my place and just acknowledge who I am and see that I’m here,” Carmona said. “I have a lot of conviction and confidence in my abilities, but I’m struggling to get out of there.”
Carmona, 35, is nearing completion of what he calls the “Los Mercados” series of 25 oil paintings based on his trips to Mexico. His multiracial background (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 heritage,” he said.
Inspired by hammocks that Carmona photographed during his three recent trips to Mexico, the Los Mercados series aims to blur the lines between folk art/craft/textiles and fine art.
“It’s a tribute to the textile weavers,” he said. “I hope the viewer not only gets a sense of the place or market where I saw the hammocks, but also recognizes the textile artists who created them.”
Each layered piece takes about two months to complete. Carmona, who earned a BFA from UCLA in 2009, has put himself in the exceptional position of being able to devote a great deal of time to each painting.
It didn’t start like that.
Like many recent art school graduates, he moved to New York.
“I wanted to live this romantic dream,” he said.
Instead, it was a struggle, even though he shared an apartment with his twin brother, Pierre, who was in grad school at New York University.
“I was the poor, starving artist living from week to week,” said Carmona, who became an artist assistant after a series of odd 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 realize that life as an undiscovered artist in New York was unsustainable.
“I had fun,” he said. “I encourage any artist to go to New York just to experience it,” he said.
Anthony Carmona focuses on the details of one of his paintings in his Los Mercados series. Photo by Noma Faingold.
He seriously considered going to law school, even doing the LSAT. But he knew that once he entered law school, he would turn his back on his art forever. Instead, he returned to San Francisco and expedited the paralegal program at San Francisco State University. He spent 10 years in the demanding profession, saving his money and painting and drawing whenever he could.
He heard from some artist friends who thought he was a “sell out”. But he knew otherwise. He had a plan: save enough to take three years off to just paint and build a factory.
Carmona, whose home studio is in the apartment unit of the family home down the street, has been a full-time artist for the past two years. He paints six to eight hours every day.
“It was the most rewarding and fulfilling thing I’ve ever done,” he said. “I’m privileged to be able to focus and create work that I’m really happy with.”
He only sold a few paintings, not that there weren’t many offers. So far he is not ready to part with his collection.
“I’m torn,” Carmona said. “I’m going to have to learn to let go and start somewhere.”
He admits his current view is atypical.
“A piece can exist on its own, but I’d rather 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 be able to say to someone, ‘You have to buy the whole thing.’”
However, Carmona does sell some prints, including drawings of Golden State Warriors stars in action, such as: B. 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 more recently Adele Louise Shaw has been producing abstract watercolors in sparkling, pleasing hues, she wants people to really experience her, an immersive, multi-sensory art installation she and husband Larry Dieterich created a few years ago, titled Second Bite: The wisdom of the apple.”
Shaw, 55, who has lived in San Francisco for 20 years (and still has a studio in Dogpatch), first assembled 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 past on stacks of computer monitors ensure that each visitor has “a unique experience that can never be repeated in the same sequence,” Shaw said.
Husband and wife Larry Dieterich and Adele Louise Shaw with their multi-sensory art installation entitled Second Bite: The Wisdom of the Apple at the Internet Archive, 300 Funston Ave. Photo by Renee Beldocchi.
“It’s a snapshot of human existence seen through the faces of women,” she said.
It is the 23rd year that Shaw, who is also a bookmaker and paints impressionist landscapes, is exhibiting work at SFOS. She is excited for San Franciscans to experience the thought-provoking installation.
“It has a spiritual aspect. If technology is the new religion, we’re asking people to think about it a little bit,” she said. “We blew a lot of people away with it. It brings out a lot of things for people, but it also gives power.”
In addition to the SFOS dates of November 12-13, the installation will continue to be open to the public every Sunday from 12pm to 6pm
ron king, NOISE (record store), 3427 Balboa St
Watercolor and plein air painter Ron King, 81, didn’t take his art seriously until he retired in 2017. He never went to art school, but he grew up in the small town of Springfield, Vermont with two passions: drawing and science.
“When Sputnik happened in high school, I was in the space race,” said the former aerospace engineer (aka rocket scientist).
It is the fourth time that King is exhibiting at SFOS. As in previous years, he will settle 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 on site.
King, who enjoys painting cityscapes, moved to the Bay Area in 1977 with Lin Fraser, his 40-year-old wife, and their son. His home studio is in West Portal, but he prefers to be outside and create plein air work.
“I like the freedom to choose my opinion,” he said. “It’s also nice to be on the road.”
The pandemic proved to be a boost in King’s development as an artist. He painted every day. At SFOS, he plans to exhibit 16 framed paintings ranging in price from $150 to $400. He sold nine paintings at last year’s event.
“I’m not in it for the money,” he said. “It’s more about sharing my feelings through art.”
Presented by ArtSpan, San Francisco Open Studios will conclude November 12-13 in the Richmond District (North Quadrant). Opening hours: 11:00-18:00 For more information (including artist card) visit artspan.org/sfos.