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1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
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, over forty 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
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Dennis Gallagher Estate
Rupert Garcia
Diane Andrews Hall
Doug Hall
Matthias Hoch
Leiko Ikemura
Oliver Lee Jackson
Eirik Johnson
Bovey Lee
Hung Liu
Nathan Lynch
Robert Minervini
Vik Muniz
T.J. Dedeaux-Norris
Sam Perry
John Preus
Amparo Sard
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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Current Exhibition

To Reflect Us

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

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

 
Past Exhibitions

Oliver Lee Jackson

Force Field

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

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

Clew

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

September 7, 2019 - October 26, 2019

Yen-Hua Lee

Book project: a silent conversation

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

June 29, 2019 - July 17, 2019

Lewis Watts

Photographs

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

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

Future Collapse

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

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.

Selected Tapestries from Magnolia Editions

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

May 11, 2019 - June 22, 2019

Tara Tucker

Surviving on one pure thought a day

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

May 4, 2019 - June 22, 2019

Louis Stettner

Louis Stettner: Photographs

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

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

100 Years Without a Net

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

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

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

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

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

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.

Into the Woods

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

November 3, 2018 - December 22, 2018

Eirik Johnson

EIRIK JOHNSON: PINE

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

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.

Lava Thomas

Mugshot Portraits: Women of the Montgomery Bus Boycott

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

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

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

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

Song of Ourselves (After Walt Whitman)

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

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

The Sea Within / O Mar Adentro

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

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.