Currently on exhibit at the de Young Museum in San Francisco is The de Young Open, with the theme of “On the Edge.” The submissions are from artists who live in the nine Bay Area counties. A juried show, 762 artists were selected from 6,188 artists who submitted their work for consideration. Works from four Benicia artists were chosen for this prestigious honor: Mark Bremer, Joe Garcia, Diane Williams and Steve Mainini. In celebration of the 125th anniversary of the de Young Museum, this community exhibition is not to be missed. The art is hung “salon style,” installed edge to edge and floor to ceiling, filling the 12,000 square foot Herbst exhibition galleries.
Mark Bremer’s drawing of a gray whale washed up on the shore at Point Reyes in April of 2019 was chosen for the exhibit. Titled “Remains. Gray Whale, Limantour,” it was one of half a dozen or so gray whales that washed up on local shores in the Spring of 2019, due to starvation; “a sad reminder of how their existence is, once again, on the edge.” Bremer’s work “is, almost exclusively, graphite pencil on paper.” His focus “is on subjects with interesting and complex textures, with little restriction to the actual subject.” Bremer grew up in the UK and settled with his wife, Muriel, in Benicia in 1987. His drawings were exhibited in several shows in the late ‘60s, but his profession as an engineer overtook his art until 2014, when he picked up his pencils once more. Bremer had a recent exhibit (August, 2019) in the gallery at the Benicia Public Library titled, “Works in Graphite-Forest Floor.” He is grateful for the acknowledgement of his art by the de Young. “Being included in the exhibition, along with so many really amazing artists, is a real honor.” Visit www.markbremerart.com
Joe Garcia’s featured work is a wall sculpture in mixed media titled “Below the Surface.” The piece is one in a series of works inspired by his parents. Calling on the image of his mother’s daily ritual of hanging wash on the clothesline and his father’s skills in working with concrete, the materials and technique blend to “create layered imagery of life.” The work’s title is based on the many facets of their lives. “The ups, the downs, the laughter, the tears, the good times and the bad. In one’s life there are many unique and complex truths formed by the past and present experiences which make us who we are today.” As a practicing artist/architect, Garcia’s works are influenced by “the built environment, discarded objects and the imagery that is created when juxtaposed with the natural world.” He creates abstract works, in various media, creating a story that is unique to each piece. Of the opportunity to exhibit at the de Young, Garcia says, “it’s an honor, and a highlight of my art career, so far.” A 33 year resident of Benicia, Garcia has a studio located in the Historic Benicia Arsenal. Visit: @joegarciaart on Instagram
Diane Williams’ work at the de Young is a diptych titled “Bull and the Wild Hare.” A large painting, at 62×72 inches, the work “reflects a meditative calm with the assurance of resiliency and resolve to heal the soul. Healing does not mean we are free from affliction, rather it means we calm our spirit and embrace our condition.” She says, “we find the inner strength to adapt and connect on levels that are beyond the physical.” In lockdown, as a result of the pandemic, Williams felt powerless and her usual approach to her artwork seemed out of focus. She had the urge to express physical power on the canvas, so she put her canvas on the floor and with a large Chinese mop brush she put her entire body into the mark. Williams says, “I found my inner strength as a fluid expression in the sanctuary of my studio.” When informed that her work was accepted for the exhibit, Williams said, “This was nearly the impossible dream. My reaction was a mix of surprise, delight, disbelief and pride. I was honored and humbled to be among the talented local artists to be selected.” Committed to the Benicia community, she has been teaching our students online during the pandemic. Williams’ art was to be featured in the gallery at the Benicia Public Library in July/August of this year. It had to be postponed due to the pandemic, but hopefully will be rescheduled for sometime next year. Diane has a studio in the Historic Benicia Arsenal. Contact: email@example.com
Steve Mainini has two of his works featured at the de Young. “Wonderland for Ava” and “Homage to Michelangelo” are pastel drawings on Lenox 100 paper. Both are part of his virtual reality series that investigates how a computer sees and digests information through pixels. Mainini explains “I focused on how a computer sees, versus how we see, and then combined the two.” In “Wonderland for Ava,” based on “Alice in Wonderland,” his daughter was the stand-in. “Homage” was “highly technical and laborious” to create, and “speaks for itself.” A visual arts teacher at John F. Kennedy High in Richmond, Mainini created his works in the classroom and uses them as a teaching tool. He feels that when the students can actually see the works in progress, they are encouraged and inspired to try something new. About learning that his work was selected for the exhibit, Mainini says, “It’s quite an honor.” Knowing that his work “is going on the walls of the de Young is… it’s unbelievable. That’s one of the things that I’ve always dreamed of.” Mainini is a 13-year resident of Benicia. View past and present work at: @stevelmainini on Instagram
All of the artists presented in The de Young Open are offering their pieces for sale, and will retain all of the proceeds. The exhibit runs through Sunday, January 3. Those who are interested in purchasing any of the featured pieces can access The de Young Open Web Gallery to explore artworks in the exhibition. Instructions for purchase can be found on this site. If you have any questions, please refer to the de Young’s FAQ page on their website.