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1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
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415 982 3292
Since its inception, Rena Bransten Gallery, founded by Rena Bransten in 1974, has sought to define its artistic program by including both established and emerging artists whose work engages with contemporary social and cultural climates. While originally focusing on ceramic sculpture by California artists, the physical gallery space and scope of exhibitions soon expanded to include a multidisciplinary program – all the while sustaining a deep-rooted connection to the crafted object. Now, almost fifty years later, the gallery continues to exhibit both national and international contemporary artists in one person and thematic exhibitions which maintain a dialog with other galleries, museums, and curators.
Artists Represented:
John Bankston
Dawoud Bey
Jonathan Calm
Sydney Cain 
T.J. Dedeaux-Norris
Tameka Jenean Norris Estate
Rodney Ewing
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Dennis Gallagher Estate
Rupert Garcia
Diane Andrews Hall
Doug Hall
Leiko Ikemura
Oliver Lee Jackson
Eirik Johnson
Bovey Lee
Hung Liu
Nathan Lynch
Amalia Mesa-Bains
Robert Minervini
Vik Muniz
Sam Perry
John Preus
Louis Stettner
Nobuyuki Takahashi
Lava Thomas
Tara Tucker
Marci Washington
John Waters
Lewis Watts
Henry Wessel
Fred Wilson
Works Available By:
Ruth Asawa
Tony DeLap
Viola Frey
Ron Nagle

 

 
Installation view of These American Lives, 2016. Courtesy Rena Bransten Gallery.
Gallery Exterior. Photo Credit: John Janca
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Online Programming

Ansel Adams, Dawoud Bey, Sydney Cain, Sarah Charlesworth, Rupert Garcia*, Doug Hall, Diane Andrews Hall, Winslow Homer, Leiko Ikemura, Oliver Lee Jackson, Eirik Johnson*, Nashormeh Lindo, Hung Liu*, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Margaret Nielsen, Joachim Patinir, Tjumpo Tjapanangka, & Henry Wessel

Door into the Dark Online



Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to announce Door into the Dark, a group exhibition presented in the gallery space with an expanded selection of works viewable online. The title is taken from the Seamus Heaney poem “The Forge” (published 1969), a musing on the creative labor of an ironworker through the eyes of an onlooker peering through a portal into the dark interior of a workshop. While a doorway can be an oculus to look through, it can also be an entry point to the unknown, or an invitation towards transformation. The collection of works in this exhibition, spanning multiple mediums, explore ideas of sacred space and contested spaces, questioning the imperfections inherent in those labels as neither sacredness nor safety are universal. The artists included in the exhibition present cosmic realms, commune with ancestors, forge passageways, and honor the natural world – each welcoming the unfamiliar. Dawoud Bey’s series Night Coming Tenderly, Black gives us an imagined viewpoint of fugitive enslaved people traveling north to freedom under the cover of night. The large-scale dark photographic prints present the landscape as a passageway to freedom, though vast and foreboding. Using dye, graphite, powders and chalk, Sydney Cain investigates genealogy, spirituality, and ideas of the Black afterlife. Leiko Ikemura and Oliver Lee Jackson both invite us into other realms in their work, and the effect is at once disorienting and electrifying, more elements revealing themselves the longer we spend in these foreign worlds. Image credit: Eirik Johnson, Starlite Drive-In, Roseburg, Oregon, 2006, archival pigment print

 
Upcoming Exhibition

Do Not Fold, Spindle, or Mutilate



October 1, 2022 - December 3, 2022
For the first time, the Rena Bransten Gallery and the Casemore Gallery are co-presenting the sprawling, sometimes serious and sometimes riotous exhibition, “Do Not Fold, Spindle, or Mutilate.” Taking place in both Gallery spaces, the exhibition is themed around the instructive “Do Not Fold, Spindle, or Mutilate” a phrase that dates to the 1950s and was printed on the once ubiquitous IBM punch cards. A pre-digital age technology, punch cards were used for everything from census taking, to payroll processing, to police record keeping, storing data as a series of holes in collated cards. While originally intended to maintain the cards’ machine readability, the phrase took on a politically subversive meaning when it was adopted by UC Berkeley students during the free speech movement of the 1960s, as punch cards were used to keep track of student records. The words came to be aligned with a general rejection of the dehumanization of a rapidly computerizing world, used ironically to assert personhood over objectification. Through a contemporary lens, it can be read as a rally against online surveillance and the collection of our personal data. We have chosen to add an additional interpretation that defying this instructive has a subversive aspect – the exhibition includes works on paper, photography, sculpture, video, shaped canvas, collage, and textile work by artists pushing the boundaries of their respective mediums – bending the rules either aesthetically or conceptually. Gallery rules and best practices are also broken as storage records and artist identification are lost or altered. The works included here are unified by an ethos of thinking outside the box – challenging the traditionally prescribed parameters of a given media. We hope the viewer enjoys the resistance to conformity and expression of freedom. Work by: Phoebe Beasley, John Chamberlain, T.J. Dedeaux-Norris, Tony DeLap, John Gossage, Scott Grieger, Bruce Handelsman, David Hockney, Whitney Hubbs, Oliver Lee Jackson, Anouk Kruithof, Charles Linder, Sean McFarland, Tracey Moffatt, Vik Muniz, Maria Porges, John Preus, Raymond Saunders, John Waters, Suné Woods, Benjamin Vilmain, and Daisuke Yokota, among others.

 
Past Exhibitions

Robert Minervini

Robert Minervini: L'attesa



July 9, 2022 - September 10, 2022
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by Oakland, CA and Florence, Italy based artist Robert Minervini. This is our fourth solo exhibition with the artist. Minervini’s work revels in intoxicating color palettes and precisely rendered forms, with keen attention to balance and bringing the depth of the three-dimensional world to the two-dimensional picture plane. His work depicts a “new naturalism” – one that is tethered to the rich traditions of western painting, while making connections with contemporary ideas about beauty and the sublime. The overall effect is a welcoming one, and evokes a desire to step inside his paintings and stay awhile. Formally, the works focus on interior and exterior spaces; objects and plants populate the foreground while California landscapes and cityscapes stretch out through the window behind them. While congruent with past work and an interest in built environments, the new paintings are intrinsically linked with the circumstances of the recent years in which they were made: the wildfires in Northern California, long periods of time spent in isolation due to the pandemic, and the artist having relocated to a new home abroad. The title of the exhibition L’Attesa, which translates to “the waiting,” points to the artist’s experiences during this time, punctuated by feelings of anxiety, moments of calm, but most markedly by the in-between-ness of waiting. One wonders, waiting for what? The collapse of climate, the end of the pandemic, a day without an orange sky? The works hinge on the possibility of the future and the anxiety of the present, wondering simply: what comes next? Robert Minervini received his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, and his BFA from Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, PA. His work has been exhibited nationally, including shows at the San José Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, and the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art. He has completed multiple murals and public art commissions nationally including through the San Francisco Arts Commission, among others. He has been a resident artist at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, the Headlands Center of the Arts, and the Vermont Studio Center. His work has been reviewed in the LA Times, Modern Painters, San Francisco Chronicle, Art ltd., and featured in ArtWeek LA, 7x7 Magazine, and The Huffington Post, and is included in multiple private and public collections including the San José Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, the City and County of San Francisco.

Rodney Ewing

Rodney Ewing: The Devil Finds Works



July 9, 2022 - September 10, 2022
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present The Devil Finds Work, an exhibition of new work by multi-media artist Rodney Ewing. Through installations, sculpture, and works on paper, Ewing presents stories of survival of the Black body in America, and examines the continued struggle for autonomy over physical, mental, and spiritual safety in the face of racially motivated violence. This is our first solo exhibition with Ewing and we are pleased to welcome him to our roster of represented artists. We would further like to congratulate him on being a 2022-2023 recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant award. The exhibition engages the viewer to question the American judicial system, individual biases, and covert institutional racism. The works collectively and individually center on navigation – through encounters with law enforcement, erasure by city redevelopment agencies, and from past to present to future manifested by star charts and the evocation of cosmic realms. The overwhelming nature of how one keeps a body – their body – safe in the face of generational danger? How does one instruct the next generation on survival when uncertain of the rules? In the installation Our A, B, C’s Ewing uses one of the earliest tools for learning and play to illustrate the lessons that Black children must learn compared to their White counterparts. Each block features a face of a child slain by police or civilians accompanied by a message from the “talk” (survival instructions passed from adult to child in the Black community) printed on three sides. The installation serves both as an epitaph, and a requiem for innocence lost. Another series, Planned Obsolescence, employs historical and contemporary archival images from the African Diaspora printed in silkscreen on vintage ledger paper. Over each subject is added a schematic of discarded technology showing the parallel between manufactured tools and manufactured servitude. These layered compositions reveal how commerce and production in the pursuit of advancement have relied on the exploitation of the Black body. Rodney Ewing’s work has been widely exhibited including shows at Jack Shainman: The School, Kinderhook NY; The Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA; Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; and The Drawing Center, New York, NY, among others. He has been an Artist-in-Residence at the de Young Museum of Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA; Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA; and Bemis Center for the Arts, Omaha, Nebraska, among several others. Ewing received his BFA in Printmaking from Louisiana State University and his MFA in Printmaking from West Virginia University. He recently relocated from San Francisco, CA to Brooklyn, NY.

Sam Perry

Sam Perry: Intertwined



April 23, 2022 - July 2, 2022
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present Intertwined, an exhibition of new wood sculptures by Bay Area artist Sam Perry. Since the beginning of his journey with the medium of wood, Perry has experimented with sculpture that seems to bend, twist, or melt in front of the viewer, who may not realize every piece is carved from a single branch, log, or stump (most of which are sourced from Runnymede Sculpture Farm in Woodside, CA where Perry has long been the director of conservation). The new collection of pieces on view in this exhibition highlight this illusion of malleability, and the rigid wood seems supple and stretchable, in defiance of its intrinsic characteristic. Intertwined features extremes of scale ranging from exquisitely delicate attenuated pieces to new massive compositions that writhe with life. Perry’s work is imbued with a deep respect for craft and precision; with patience and acute awareness, he carves, sands, polishes, and splines with a reverence for the material’s history and a desire to “find” the sculpture hidden within. Often Perry has lived with the fallen trees and trunks in his studio for years before he begins carving, and the finished pieces become testaments to the passage of time, and to the collaborative effort between artist and material. Sam Perry was born in Kailua, Hawai’i, where he spent weekends as a youth in his father’s canoe shop. Originally a ceramic artist, he received both his BFA (1986) and MFA (1990) from California College of Arts and Crafts. After graduating, he took a position as studio assistant to Viola Frey, which he maintained for nearly 20 years. His sculptures are included in the collections of the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art, Napa, CA, and the Runnymede Sculpture Farm, Woodside, CA. He lives and works in Oakland, CA.

Derek Weisberg

Derek Weisberg: Fake Flowers



April 23, 2022 - July 2, 2022
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present, Fake Flowers, our first solo exhibition with New York based multi-media artists Derek Weisberg. This exhibition brings together two distinct but related bodies of work in the mediums of collage and ceramic. Weisberg’s work is imbued with a sense of play and a generous amount of humor, while paying homage to art historical movements, from Northern European Still Life painting to Arte Povera, from Dadism to early Cubist collage. A limited-edition catalogue accompanies the exhibition. Weisberg’s relationship with the medium of clay was influenced heavily by having grown up in Northern California (where he also attended art school) under the ethos of Robert Arneson, Peter Voulkos, Viola Frey, and Stephen De Staebler. It was not until a move to the East Coast that the notion of clay as a material for making functional objects ever occurred to him, and the collection of vases on display in this exhibition, from the series Tell me About the Worms, is emblematic of that dichotomy. In these works, the recognizable vase form has been mutated and morphed, with human faces enmeshed in the surfaces, seemingly in protest of any possible classification as merely “everyday objects.” The mixed media collages, from the series Fake Flowers, question ideas of beauty and permanence, utilizing fake flowers as motif. In our attempt to immortalize life by manufacturing artificial flowers, do we ultimately minimize nature’s glory, reducing it into gaudy trinkets? There is a crude tenderness to Weisberg’s work, as if his objects have been so well cared for that they’ve broken, then been lovingly reassembled. Their fissures and sutures are proud battle wounds of the process – metaphorical reflections on the artist’s view of the act of living. Derek Weisberg (b. 1983, Santa Rosa, California) graduated with a BFA and high honors from California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, CA in 2005. He has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions, nationally and internationally. Weisberg has also participated in numerous residencies including: The Residency Program, Versailles, France (2019), Sharpe Walentas Studio Program, Brooklyn, NY (2018), and Fountainhead residency, Miami, FL, (2012). He is the subject of a recent monograph, Masques et Bergamasques, published by Editions Lord Byron, Paris, France. Weisberg currently lives and works in NY and is faculty at Greenwich House Pottery.

Jonathan Calm

Jonathan Calm Hands on the Wheel: African American (Auto)mobility in Space, Time and Mind



February 19, 2022 - February 12, 2022
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present our first solo exhibition with Bay Area-based artist Jonathan Calm. The images in this exhibit represent Calm’s ongoing project of exploring African American (Auto)mobility based on his documentation of sites listed in The Negro Motorist Green Book (1936-1966), the guidebook that referred travelers of color to safe and dignified accommodations during the final decades of the Jim Crow era. Calm’s perspective is both archival and imaginative, as he combines location and landscape photographs from across the country with carefully staged self-portraits, contextualized through historical reimagining. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020 enhanced the risk factor around Calm’s cross-country travel, which led his approach to take a more introspective and personal turn. Inspired by stories from audience members of different age groups who attended presentations of his Green Book work, Calm has extended his spatial journey to an odyssey of time and mind. Rather than invoke a connotation of fear, Hands on the Wheel creates an empowering visual narrative that highlights continuity across generations of African American individuals and communities on the move. Jonathan Calm is a visual artist in the media of photography and video, and assistant professor at Stanford University. His earlier work focuses on the relationship between technologies of representation and urban architecture, and the powerful role of images in the way architectural constructs shape the lives of individuals and communities. His exploration of the socio-cultural, historical and geopolitical imprint of public housing on both sides of the Atlantic puts into perspective, questions and implodes the white utopian legacy of European Modernism to reveal hidden narratives and forgotten participants. More recently, Calm has pointed his critical eye toward the representation of Black (auto)mobility, exposing how the mythical promise of a boundless journey across the land often masks a more compromised reality for African Americans. Through a varied array of media, he creates complex images of the Black American experience on the road as a precarious privilege rather than an inalienable right. Calm's art practice is international in scope and has been exhibited at prestigious venues around the world, including the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Tate Britain, the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid and the ICA in Boston. His work has been reviewed in numerous publications, among which The New York Times, Art in America, The New Yorker, The Village Voice, Artforum, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. Calm was the 2019 recipient of the prestigious Larry Sultan Photography Award. The KQED Arts profile Jonathan Calm Revisits ‘Green Book’ Locations in Search of America’s Past and Present was nominated for a 2020 Northern California Area Emmy Award for Best Historic/Cultural-Feature/Segment.

Sydney Cain

Sydney Cain: Dust to Dust



December 4, 2021 - February 12, 2022
Rena Brantsen Gallery is pleased to present Dust to Dust, Sydney Cain’s inaugural exhibition with the gallery, organized to coincide with her show Refutations at the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, and her large-scale commissioned mural Radio Imagination which is on view as part of Mothership: Voyage into Afrofuturism at the Oakland Museum of California. A catalog will be published to accompany the gallery exhibition with an introductory essay by Angela N. Carroll. An opening reception for the artist will be held on December 4th from 4-6pm. The works which comprise this exhibition are Cain’s excavations into memory and liminal spaces. Their creation includes an intuitive sifting, rubbing, and erasing of black pigments and metals to reveal personal mythologies which exist beyond mainstream and colonial narratives in a process that is as much an investigation as a manifestation. The shadowy figures which populate Cain’s images, usually found in groups, are not “set” beings – their histories and messages are as intangible as their facial expressions. In communing with these enigmatic entities, Cain seems to be inviting them to exist in the present by reaching both backwards and forwards in time simultaneously to find them, until the very notion that existence is tethered to linear time becomes suspect. About the artist: Sydney Cain was born and raised in San Francisco. Their multimedia work is largely on paper using dye, graphite, powdered metals, and chalk as emblems of impermanence and transformation. She investigates remembrance, evolution, and spirituality from her perspective as a queer black woman. The encoded language of DNA is deciphered through the practice of drawing, contributing to the concept of collective Black mythos. Cain’s current work is founded on genealogical research alongside the effects of urban renewal/colonialism and threats against Black afterlives. Cain has exhibited throughout the Bay Area including at the Oakland Museum of California, the Museum of African Diaspora, SOMArts, Betti Ono, Ashara Ekundayo Gallery, the San Francisco Arts Commission, and the African American Arts and Culture Complex. Sydney Cain is a recipient of the 2021 Artadia Award, and MoAD’s 2019-20 Emerging Artists program. They live and work in San Francisco, CA.

Bovey Lee

Bovey Lee: Bathing in the Forest of House Plants



December 4, 2021 - February 12, 2022
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present Bathing in the Forest of House Plants, an exhibition of new work by Los Angeles based artist Bovey Lee. Lee’s chosen medium of cut paper (a traditional Chinese folk art) creates synergy with her political and autobiographic narratives, and this exhibition continues to chart her experience as a Chinese immigrant and reflects on her experience of the pandemic and the associated rise of anti-Asian sentiment. Already buffeted by the anti-immigration politics of the last presidential administration, Lee’s new works explore, through the metaphor of common house plants, two contrasting states of being made apparent during the Covid lockdown. Using images of anthurium, orchids, cacti, and bamboo removed from their native habitats, Lee imagines these plants as safe inside (surrounded by familiarity and protected in solitude) and at risk outside (surrounded by uncertainty and the unpredictability of public spaces). Each plant Lee has chosen represents a guiding principle: orchids for hope, lucky bamboo for patience, anthurium for growth, and cactus for protection. The plants are potted and interlaced with the images of domestic objects – windows, hour glasses, shopping carts – perhaps a reminder that our surroundings are manufactured. The artist has additionally included various portraits of herself, showing the necessity of adaptability for self-preservation in the face of unprecedented challenges. A one-minute looping animated video with original score titled Projection-Bunny Ears Cactus (Indoor) is also included in the exhibition. The piece was made in response to the recent upsurge in persecution of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) which heightened Lee’s certainty during quarantine that home was the only safe place. The imagery in the video speaks to resilience and self-actualization, and the freedom that comes through being one’s own protector. Lee’s process is meticulous and labor intensive, and the work is rich with detail and nuance. Each element included is carefully chosen and leads the viewer on a sort of scavenger hunt to discover how all these elements fit together, requiring our keen attention and a creative mind. About the artist: Bovey Lee’s work in cut paper and site-specific installations focuses on the impact of migration on people and the environment, and human’s conflicting desires for the preservation of nature and urbanization. Born in Hong Kong and practicing Chinese calligraphy since the age of ten, Lee studied painting and drawing in her formative years, completing her BA degree in Fine Arts at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. In 1993, she came to the United States as a painter and earned her first Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of California at Berkeley, and a second MFA in Digital Arts at Pratt Institute in New York. Her works has been exhibited extensively, including in shows at the Fuller Craft Museum, MA; Nevada Museum of Art; Museum of Craft & Design, CA; Brooklyn Museum of Art; Museum Bellerive, Zurich, Switzerland; Blackburn Museum, UK; Museum of Fine Arts, Beijing, China; Fukuoka Museum of Art, Japan; Hong Kong Museum of Art; Museum Rijswijk, The Netherlands; among others. She currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.

Oliver Lee Jackson

Oliver Lee Jackson: Vibrato



October 2, 2021 - November 27, 2021
Rena Bransten Gallery is please to present Vibrato, a selection of paintings and prints from celebrated artist Oliver Lee Jackson. This exhibition runs concurrently with a solo exhibition of his work at the Saint Louis Art Museum. Originally from St. Louis, Jackson has lived and work in Oakland, CA since 1982.

Group Exhibition

Just one word...Plastics



July 24, 2021 - September 11, 2021
Image caption: Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang, "Shovel Bands," 2014, digital pigment print, 40 x 48 inches, unique. Press release: Each minute one million plastic bottles are used around the world [Reuters]. “… and every minute a chance to change the world…” Dolores Huerta [labor leader, civil rights activist, and catalyst of the environmental-justice movement]. Acknowledging our concern for wildlife, planetary sustainability, and the overwhelming impact of environmental injustice on our children – particularly low income and people of color – the Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to announce our membership in the Gallery Climate Coalition. Inspired by ecological heroism, we present Just one word…Plastics, an exhibition including work by Tony Cragg, Mark Dion, Don and Era Farnsworth, Guillermo Galindo, Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang, Chip Lord, Susan Middleton, Vik Muniz, Mansur Nurullah, Aaron Siskind, and William T. Wiley. The exhibition will be accompanied by a small shop of zero-waste, ecologically sound, common household goods. The title is taken from a line in The Graduate (1967), a piece of advice from the old guard encouraging a lucrative career and extolling this new material and its many promises. In retrospect we see the advice as both naïve and sinister – a foreshadowing of environmental disaster.

Diane Andrews Hall

Diane Andrews Hall: Unforeseen



July 24, 2021 - September 11, 2021
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of Diane Andrews Hall’s exquisite seascapes. Installed in our small gallery, these ocean paintings are both grandiose and intimate, offering peaceful respite and quiet grandeur. Image caption: Diane Andrews Hall, "Dwelling in Air," 2017, oil on wood, 50 x 50 inches Press Release: A fascination with time and movement is present in Hall’s work. She arrests moments, preserving them with a meticulous hand, adding layer upon layer or paint with careful smoothing in between. She has a keen ability to find shape in light, and a clear captivation with the complex nature of being. Proximity to the coast is a source of comfort and pride for many Northern Californians, even as the very real threat of rising water levels looms. Through Hall’s work we are reminded of our smallness in the world, but also our potential for harm and our responsibility to preserve the natural world. "Going to the ocean always has been a powerful experience for me. Its formidable vastness is humbling and it releases me from my self and lifts me into the present. The wind, the air, the smells, the water, the light are all exhilarating. The paintings represent that memory." -Diane Andrews Hall

When Nobody's Watching



May 22, 2021 - July 2, 2021
Paying homage to the time-honored tradition of self-portraiture, this collection of works shows a multiplicity of approaches to the genre – the images are sometimes confessional and profound, sometimes self-deprecating and humorous. While most artists are no strangers to solitude and the inevitable self-reflection that solitude brings, there is a more practical consideration: artists often choose themselves as subject simply because they are the ones there. This past year has made even more pronounced the necessity of using what is within arm’s reach, in the same way that an artist’s available physical space can dictate scale. While these works were not all made during quarantine, they are seen now through the lens of prolonged separation, as little windows opening to other people. Hung Liu’s large-scale painted portrait, Rat Year 2020: Last Dandelion, shows a close cropping of her masked face, placing us solidly in the present. An air of stoicism dominates her gaze – there are no frills, and no explanations. Her signature dandelion dominates the other panel, reminding us of impermanence, and the cyclical nature of life. How will this painting be seen years in the future, with the pandemic (hopefully) a hazy memory? David Linger’s four-panel self-portrait is a black and white photograph printed on porcelain – an extremely archival yet fragile material. Linger has bifurcated his face and the variations between panels become a nod to the many selves we all hold inside. The printing process Linger employs is one that demands embracing imperfections as it is difficult and time consuming, and the results hard to control. When considering this process in relation to self-portraiture, it becomes poetic; as we all fumble through life our best hope may be to remain open to unexpected outcomes.

Phoebe Beasley

Phoebe Beasley: MIGRATIONS in Our Mind's Eye



March 6, 2021 - May 15, 2021
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present our first solo exhibition with celebrated Los Angeles based artist Phoebe Beasley. Working primarily in collage, Beasley’s work is celebratory in nature, rejoicing in the persistency of hope underlying the human spirit. While the characters of Beasley’s images are ordinary people in everyday situations, their narratives delve deep into American experiences, in the case of this exhibition the Great Migration. Image caption: Phoebe Beasley, Political Postures, 2002, collage, 24 x 36 inches

Ansel Adams, Dawoud Bey, Sydney Cain, Jonathan Calm, Sarah Charlesworth, Peter Dean, T.J. Dedeaux-Norris, Rupert Garcia, Diane Andrews Hall, Doug Hall, Winslow Homer, Oliver Lee Jackson, Eirik Johnson, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Margaret Nielsen, Joachim Patinir, Tjumbo Tjapanangka, Henry Wessel

Door into the Dark



March 6, 2021 - April 24, 2021
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to announce Door into the Dark, a group exhibition presented in the gallery space with an expanded selection of works viewable online. The title is taken from the Seamus Heaney poem “The Forge” (published 1969), a musing on the creative labor of an ironworker through the eyes of an onlooker peering through a portal into the dark interior of a workshop. While a doorway can be an oculus to look through, it can also be an entry point to the unknown, or an invitation towards transformation. The collection of works in this exhibition, spanning multiple mediums, explore ideas of sacred space and contested spaces, questioning the imperfections inherent in those labels as neither sacredness nor safety are universal. The artists included in the exhibition present cosmic realms, commune with ancestors, forge passageways, and honor the natural world – each welcoming the unfamiliar. Image caption: Leiko Ikemura, Zarathustra II, 2014, pigment on jute, 74 3/4 x 114 1/4 inches

Nobuyuki Takahashi

Nobuyuki Takahashi: Seven Suns



December 5, 2020 - February 20, 2021
There is a precise, contemplative beauty to the work of Japanese painter Nobuyuki Takahashi. For this exhibition, Takahashi has focused on daily observations of his surrounding environment – scenes from a neighborhood walk, or a view out the train window. Yet rather than expressing the modern world’s chaos, through careful elimination of extraneous detail Takahashi offers us an invitation into stillness and consideration.

Chip Lord

Chip Lord: Folding Back Time, Form, and Format



December 5, 2020 - February 20, 2021
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibition by Bay Area artist Chip Lord. Lord, whose first exhibition with the gallery was in 1992, continues to offer the viewer a matrix to frame visual representation, media, fact, fiction, and experience. Exploiting media and message with a critical eye and gentle humor, Lord often deconstructs American myths and associated nostalgia. He is equally known for his work with the alternative architecture and media collective Ant Farm, which he co-founded with Doug Michels in 1968, as for his teaching and on-going media practice. Ant Farm's iconic performance/video work Media Burn is the subject of a new monograph, Ant Farm and the Making of an Image, by Steve Seid.

Hung Liu

Hung Liu: The Sun Also Rises



September 17, 2020 - November 14, 2020
A solo exhibition featuring recent work by Hung Liu inspired by the work of photographer, Dorothea Lange.

Vik Muniz

Vik Muniz: Surfaces



June 12, 2020 - August 15, 2020
The Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present Vik Muniz: Surfaces, a solo exhibition presenting new work that continues the artist’s conceptual practice. Muniz is known for investigating areas that confound assumptions of visual literacy, sleuthing in areas where epistemology meets image-making. Many of Vik Muniz’ previous series have employed an unexpected material (junk, garbage, chocolate, diamonds, pigments, cut and torn paper, etc.) to create an image culled from the annals of art history, then photographing the result. He uses the image to tell multiple stories – about the original artwork, about our perceptions, and about our layering of memory. Muniz states, “Photography does not reveal the world as a whole, but a carefully edited version of it.” He challenges the verity of an image and our ability to see a photograph less as a documentation of a moment and more as one version of the truth. For this series, Muniz makes his own paintings, sometimes replicating from source works by artists including Otto Freundlich and Burle Marx. Photographing his painting, he then manipulates the resulting photograph – cutting and reassembling pieces, often re-photographing and repeating, creating something that hovers between painting and photography. Testing our perceptual limits, the “real” versus the “illusory” becomes a space of play for the viewer to decipher. Vik Muniz’ work has been exhibited nationally and internationally with solo exhibitions at the Sarasota Museum of Art, Florida, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA and Mauritshuis, The Hague, Netherlands. His work is in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art; The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. He was named a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in 2011 for his work with the catadores of Rio de Janeiro, on whom the 2010 documentary Waste Land was based. He recently opened Escola Vidigal, a school in the favela Vidigal in Rio de Janeiro, which offers preschool and afterschool programs in art, design, and technology in promotion of visual literacy for children ages 4-8. He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Image Featured: Vik Muniz, Surfaces: Shattered, 2020, mixed media, one of a kind 47 x 43 in.)

Dennis Gallagher

Dennis Gallagher: Balancing Act



February 1, 2020 - April 25, 2020
The Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present four ceramic sculptures by Dennis Gallagher. The selection shows Gallagher’s interest in forms and the figure, and his gouged and scored surfaces reflect his focus on the expressive use of the ceramic medium. (Installation view, Photo Credit: John Janca )

Dawoud Bey



February 1, 2020 - April 25, 2020
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of photographer Dawoud Bey, organized to coincide with the opening of his full scale retrospective, An American Project, at SFMOMA on February 15, 2020. The gallery exhibition brings together four distinct bodies of work tracing Bey’s early street portraits in Harlem U.S.A. to more recent work documenting the landscapes of Ohio’s real and imagined sites of the Underground Railroad. (Image featured: Dawoud Bey, 'A Young Man at a Tent Revival, Brooklyn, NY, 1989', 2018 print, archival pigment print)

To Reflect Us



November 9, 2019 - January 11, 2020
Work by: Katrina Andry, Sadie Barnette, Phoebe Beasley, Sydney Cain, T.J. Dedeaux-Norris, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Suzanne Jackson, Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, Mildred Howard, Nashormeh N.R. Lindo, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Mary Lovelace O'Neal, Lezley Saar, Lava Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems, & Deborah Willis "I have always wanted my art to service my people – to reflect us, to relate to us, to stimulate us, to make us aware of our potential…We have to create an art for liberation and for life." -Elizabeth Catlett

Oliver Lee Jackson

Oliver Lee Jackson: Force Field



September 7, 2019 - October 26, 2019
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new work from celebrated artist Oliver Lee Jackson. This exhibition is organized in conjunction with his current solo exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, which opened in April of this year and runs through mid-September. Jackson’s works draw the viewer into extended contemplation. His compositions present complex worlds in which field and imagery interweave, creating visual effects that may range from lyrical to ferocious. The paintings offer a realm of materials, imagery, and effects (illumination, space, mass, etc.), but Jackson is clear that they tell no "story." While we may be inclined to seek a narrative or specific reading, Jackson’s language is based in the ambivalent and personal nature of visual experience. In an extraordinarily prolific career now spanning over five decades, Jackson has produced a staggering body of work including paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints. The large-scale paintings selected for this exhibition — some in diptychs and triptychs — represent recent works which continue Jackson’s exploration of the nature of experience with extraordinary force and sensitivity. While he has long been known as a masterful colorist, this exhibition includes a new Triptych measuring 8 by 18 feet that is essentially a composition in grisaille. “[Jackson’s] subdued practice shows an intense interest not in being a ‘style’ but rather in revealing philosophical and phenomenological moments.” -Chris Cobb (SFMOMA Open Space) Oliver Lee Jackson’s work has been exhibited extensively over the past several decades. His artworks are in the permanent collections of The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Blanton Museum, Austin; Contemporary Art Museum, Chicago; Yale University Art Gallery; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; The Oakland Museum; San Jose Museum of Art, and many other public and private collections across the U.S. He lives and works in Oakland, CA.

Sam Perry

Sam Perry: Clew



September 7, 2019 - October 26, 2019

Lewis Watts

Lewis Watts: Photographs



June 29, 2019 - August 17, 2019
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present our second solo exhibition with Bay Area photographer Lewis Watts. With a keen interest in both historical and contemporary representations of people in the African diaspora, this exhibition includes portraits of artists, activist, authors, and musicians along with his photographs of historical, archival objects. An avid traveler with an acute interest in people, Watts collects images everywhere he goes. His subjects are usually aware of his presence, and his engagement with them is paramount to the work. Watts' photographs challenge the proliferation of negative images of black people propagated by news outlets, instead asserting a sense of “Black Joy,” a reference to the Black Joy Parade where he has taken many of his portraits. Through this work, Lewis pays homage to an exhibit of photographs compiled by W.E.B. Du Bois at the 1900 Paris Exposition that sought to counteract prevailing racist caricatures. Like Frederick Douglass, Du Bois recognized the power of photography in shaping public opinion. Included in this grouping are works which continue Watts’ interest in the archive which began during a 2016 residency at The Amistad Center for Art and Culture in Hartford, CT. Watts’ work aims to look at the history of representations of African Americans, the motivations of the authors of those representations, and the narratives they wish to assert. Lewis Watts is a photographer, archivist/curator and Professor Emeritus of Art at UC Santa Cruz. He is the author of “Harlem of the West: The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era” (2017) and “New Orleans Suite: Music and Culture in Transition” (2013). His work has been exhibited at and is in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; the UC Berkeley Art Museum, CA; he Citè de La Musique, Paris, France; the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, LA; the Oakland Museum of California; and the Amistad Center for Art and Culture, Hartford, CT, among others.

Robert Minervini

Robert Minervini: Future Collapse



June 29, 2019 - August 17, 2019
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present our third solo exhibition with Oakland based artist Robert Minervini. Presented in conjunction with the unveiling of his large mosaic mural at SFO, organized by the San Francisco Arts Commission, this exhibition continues Minervini’s exploration of human intervention in the natural world. In these works, screen printed California cityscapes and landscapes are backdrops to arrangements of stenciled classical Roman sculptures, cacti and succulents, Etruscan urns, and Egyptian figurines, all placed on shelves inside tiled vitrines. It is a proposition that both honors and disrupts traditions of still-life and landscape painting: are these objects relics of the past, objects of the present, or possibilities of the future? Are the vitrines transparent, or tiled with photo decals? A sense of dislocation and disorientation begins to seep in as forms and landscapes are repeated throughout the work, often silhouetted to further disassociate from their real-world counterparts. These objects are disconnected from any cultural significance, reminiscent of a Cabinet of curiosity, and Minervini's natural spaces are only facsimiles of nature. This constructed world is as familiar as it is foreign. Robert Minervini works in painting, drawing, printmaking, murals, and site-specific public art. His work examines spatial environments and notions of utopia in large-scale cityscapes, landscapes, and floral still-life arrangements, all of which address the ecological impact of humanity. Minervini’s works are in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla, CA and the San Jose Museum of Art, CA, as well as numerous corporate collections, including Facebook, and public collections, including the San Francisco Arts Commission, CA and San Francisco General Hospital, CA.

Yen-Hua Lee

Yen-Hua Lee / Book project: a silent conversation



June 29, 2019 - July 17, 2019

Selected Tapestries from Magnolia Editions



May 11, 2019 - June 22, 2019

Tara Tucker

Tara Tucker: Surviving on one pure thought a day



May 4, 2019 - June 22, 2019

Louis Stettner

Louis Stettner: Photographs



March 2, 2019 - April 27, 2019
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to announce our first solo exhibition of photographer Louis Stettner (1922-2016). Coinciding with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s retrospective "Louis Stettner: Traveling Light," curated by Clément Cheroux’s (through May 26, 2019), the works in this exhibition represent fifty years of Stettner’s prolific career and illustrate many of his most frequented subjects: people in pairs, workers, bodies in transit and rest, and cityscapes. Originally from Brooklyn, Stettner spent much of his life in his adopted home of Paris and his photographs reflect a deep love of both cities. The pleasure Stettner gleaned from roaming the streets in search of images is clear in the work, and the photographs chosen for this exhibition have been sequenced in celebration of that visual journey.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Lawrence Ferlinghetti: 100 Years Without a Net



March 2, 2019 - April 27, 2019
In celebration of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s 100th birthday, Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present "100 Years Without a Net," a selection of paintings and small works on paper. This exhibition is in conjunction with numerous events throughout the month of March, many organized by City Lights Bookstore, in honor of this momentous occasion. This year San Francisco officially names March 24th Lawrence Ferlinghetti Day.

Bovey Lee

Bovey Lee: We Are All Mountaineers



January 5, 2019 - February 23, 2019
"We Are All Mountaineers" is a new body of work by Los Angeles based artist Bovey Lee comprised of intricately hand cut Chinese rice paper which reflect upon the recent unprecedented shift in immigration policies of the current administration.

Diane Andrews Hall

Diane Andrews Hall: in time



January 5, 2019 - February 23, 2019
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present "Diane Andrews Hall: in time." This solo exhibition, Andrews Hall’s first with the gallery, is a collection of exquisitely detailed and masterfully crafted paintings of the natural environment.

Eirik Johnson

EIRIK JOHNSON: PINE



November 3, 2018 - December 22, 2018
Rena Bransten is pleased to present EIRIK JOHNSON: PINE, an exhibition of photographs of carvings in tree trunks with an accompanying sound installation. This exhibition coincides with the release of Johnson’s monograph of the same name. The etched trees capture both the angst and magic of adolescence – affirmations of existence, band names, cherished lyrics, the passions of first love – and Johnson commemorates and alters these private, isolated moments of damage. Shot at night using long exposures and illuminated in combinations of fire, moonlight, sparklers, and prismatic light, these photographs connect the small gesture of rebellion to a time-honored tradition of mankind leaving a mark. Many of the images will be presented as lightboxes, and the installation will include original music by musicians responding to different photographs, enforcing Johnson’s relationship to his own youth and memories of cherished mixed tapes.

Into the Woods



November 3, 2018 - December 22, 2018

Lava Thomas

Lava Thomas: Mugshot Portraits: Women of the Montgomery Bus Boycott



September 8, 2018 - October 27, 2018
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present our first solo exhibition by Lava Thomas. Thomas (b. Los Angeles, CA) is a Bay Area-based visual artist whose work explores the events, figures, and movements that inform and shape our individual and collective histories. Central to her practice are notions of visibility, resilience, and healing, whether the artworks memorialize victims of racial violence, transform galleries into contemplative spaces, or stretch the conventions of portraiture and representation. Thomas is a multi-disciplinary artist and master draftsman whose oeuvre includes photography, costume design, painting, large-scale installations, and sculpture. She has for the past two years been focused on the under-acknowledged role of African American women in the Civil Rights Movement. This exhibition centers around a new series of graphite and conté pencil portraits based on mugshots of the women of the 1955 yearlong Montgomery Bus Boycott, illuminating and emphasizing the leadership and sustained labor of women to the boycott’s success. While mugshots intrinsically aim to dehumanize and criminalize, Thomas’ life size, richly detailed portraits offer a counter narrative. Leigh Raiford, photo historian and associate professor of African American Studies at UC Berkeley, and essayist for the accompanying exhibition catalog, notes: “We might start with the striking visibility of Thomas’ fine line work—intentional, deliberate—which renders these women as highly regarded sitters rather than mechanically-reproduced subjects of the state. The purposeful clarity of each hair, each coat thread, each worry line, functions here as a steady etching of history that needs to be carefully attended to. Further exceeding her source material, Thomas has accentuated eyes and hands, underscored a smirk or a side eye. The large-scale portraits, many times the size of a mugshot, are meant to be displayed so that our eyes look directly into theirs, a demand for mutual recognition.” Thomas acknowledges the egalitarian nature of graphite and conté pencil with this new series. The accessibility of the pencil is paired in this exhibition with a corollary body of work based on the tambourine, an intuitive instrument rooted in cultures around the globe and associated with gospel music, freedom songs of the Civil Rights Movement, protests, and marches. This exhibition is in dialogue with the current political and social climate of the country: the resurgence of white nationalism, the rise of racial hostility and lethal violence, the ascent of white male supremacy in the Executive Branch of government, and the methodical erosion of hard won Civil Rights laws and protections by the current administration. Lava Thomas’ work has been exhibited at the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco; the International Print Center New York; the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco; the Bolder Museum of Contemporary Art, Colorado; the California African American Museum, Los Angeles; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; and the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art, Napa, California, among many other venues. Her work is in the permanent collections of the United States Consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; the de Young Museum, San Francisco; and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. She studied at UCLA’s School of Art Practice and received a BFA from California College of the Arts. *A catalog with essay by Leigh Raiford will accompany the exhibition*

The Portrait Show



June 23, 2018 - August 18, 2018
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present "The Portrait Show," a group exhibition exploring portraiture from traditional to non-traditional approaches in a range of media including photography, painting, sculpture, and works on paper. This exhibition will include works by Robert Arneson, John Bankston, Dawoud Bey, Jonathan Calm, Rupert Garcia, Jennifer Greenburg, Leiko Ikemura, Oliver Lee Jackson, Eirik Johnson, Bovey Lee, David Linger, Hung Liu, Martin Mull, Tameka Jenean Norris, Raymond Pettibon, Naaman Rosen, Thomas Ruff, Peter Saul, Tracey Snelling, Lava Thomas, Tara Tucker, John Waters and Henry Wessel, among others. This diverse grouping of works spans the humorous to the somber, nodding to the rich history of the portrait while aiming to expand its boundaries. Several works in the exhibition challenge the notion that a portrait should feature a face or figure. Naaman Rosen’s "Letters: A Portrait of a Family" consists of scanned letters sent from his mother, the words “Love You” stretched across a lined note pad in one, news of his brother’s imprisonment in another. Tameka Jenean Norris’ "Office Hours" is a photograph of a cup of tea and an art history book, the artists’ toes barely visible at the edge of the frame. Bovey Lee’s cut paper work "Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker" is a photo transfer of the artist’s own immigration paper work, incised with sea imagery. Some artists in the exhibition use themselves as subject, but not always in the vain of self-portraiture. Jennifer Greenburg works with vernacular found photographs, but replaces the subject with herself, blending cultural narratives with the personal. Jonathan Calm uses his own body in "Double Vision: (Recording I)," but the work expands beyond the self-portrait: his vulnerable figure lies on the pavement, a camera lens in his mouth recording footage of police brutality against black bodies. Complimenting these non-traditional approaches are more traditional portraits. In some, artists render other artists in what feel like gestures of mutual admiration – Robert Arneson of Viola Frey, Rupert Garcia of Picasso, and Henry Wessel of Dennis Gallagher. In others, the artist looks directly at his subject, as in Dawoud Bey’s close-up portrait "Girl with a Knife Nose Pin," or directly at themselves, as in Thomas Ruff’s "Self Portrait."

Doug Hall

Doug Hall: Song of Ourselves (After Walt Whitman)



May 5, 2018 - June 16, 2018
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present Song of Ourselves (After Walt Whitman), a two-channel site-specific video installation by Doug Hall, designed in collaboration with the architectural team modem. The installation situates a video of high school students reciting Whitman’s text with a projection that washes across the gallery walls of slow motion, black and white video of people moving through public spaces. Song of Ourselves brings forth the positive spirit that resides within Whitman’s words, and is Hall’s proposal that a humanist tradition can provide an antidote to the venom seeping into the American conscience following the 2016 election.

David Linger

David Linger: The Sea Within / O Mar Adentro



May 5, 2018 - June 16, 2018
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present David Linger: The Sea Within | O Mar Adentro, a collection of black and white photographs of beach scenes printed on translucent porcelain panels. Taken at two places dear to Linger’s heart, Ocean Beach in San Francisco and Ipanema in Rio de Janeiro, these photographs are an elegy to the sea and its visitors. Linger is a careful and intense documentarian of people and their relationship to the sea. His subjects are groups, pairs, or solitary figures entrenched in intimate moments, joyous celebrations, or lost in contemplation. His images are at once familiar and atmospheric and bring the democratic nature of the beach to the fore.