Main Gallery

Watercolors by Five Contemporary Bay Area Painters

May 2 - June 14, 2009

Curated by Barbara Janeff

Robert Bechtle, Nathan Oliveira, Mary Robertson, Sally Robertson and Kay Russell

Guest Curator, Barbara Janeff has brought together these five renowned watercolorists. The diversity of their work from realism to abstraction, and shadowy color to light filled hues compliment and enhance each other in this exhibition. As a group they offer us a window into the lineage of experimentation and discovery that evolved into watercolor as we know it today. In her curatorial statement, Janeff traces the fascinating development of pigments, papers, techniques and the evolving use of watercolor by preeminent watercolorists from art history who influence contemporary painters who in turn develop their own  innovations.

Of these five outstanding contemporary Bay Area artists Janeff writes:

Robert Bechtle is very well known for photorealist painting done in his studio.  His on-site watercolors  were done on holiday rather quickly (usually in an hour and a half) without an anchor or plan, just ” letting the brush do its job”. (to quote Bechtle)  They are fresh and capture the moment.

Nathan Oliveira was the baby of the Bay Area Figurative painters of the 50’s and 60’s.  The nude watercolors here are minimal and direct. Only a great master of the human form can create such a presence with a few stokes.  Think of Rodin’s  ‘after work’  nude washes.  The ‘site’ painting of an imaginary landscape or artist’s studio[?] has no figure,  but  one is implied as if it had just left the scene.

Mary Robertson lives on  the Russian River.  Her paintings evoke the late afternoon sun with its luminous glow and deep shadows that are both mysterious and ominous.  She admires the art of Maynard Dixon and Giorgio Morandi.  Some of her river paintings are reminiscent of Thomas Eakins.

Sally Robertson is well known for her fine flower paintings inspired by her glorious garden.  The works of  Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Charles Demuth and Joseph Raffael have influenced her.  Life drawing and more recently portrait painting are also part of her repertoire.

Kay Russell is an outstanding instructor of watercolor painting.  Her recent work is inspired by Chiura Obata  and Morris Graves.  Both artists bring an eastern sensibility to western art by painting in the moment, capturing  spirit rather than likeness.  The use of rain in her paintings is a vehicle for contemplation and reminiscence.

Barbara Janeff graduated from Stanford in Art History and has long been involved with the San Francisco art world. She curated the exceptional exhibition of Bay Area figurative artists for the Bolinas Museum in 2006 and another exhibition of Indian miniatures for the Museum in 2007. In addition, she is an accomplished watercolorist herself.