Photo Feature: Luna Rienne Gallery, “City Minded”

by Admin on 04/15/2015

From the poetic musings of the flaneur, who wandered the streets of Paris to the quick-paced, gritty world of the metropolises depicted in the artworks of the Ashcan School artists, the dynamic urban life has fascinated artists for centuries. Luna Rienne Gallery’s current group show, City Minded celebrates the painting genre and its history within the frame of the picturesque representations of the city of San Francisco, both real and imagined. Paint, ink, pen, and brush are used to imagine the people, architecture, and space that manifest the nuances of urban life.

For Berlin-based Christian Rothenhagen, Ursula Xanthe Young, and Sebastopol-based illustrator Ricky Watts, who travel frequently to San Francisco, their cityscapes seem more symbolic of civic energy. Watts’ colorful aerosol works, looking like dreamscapes high above the sidewalks juxtapose with Rothenhagen’s views that align more with a common, pedestrian view of a city: the shadow cast from the large buildings, walk signs, and street lamps. Young’s illustrations of detailed colorful Victorian row houses sprinkled with poppies and eucalyptus, and red Chinese lanterns and MUNI cables above burst with nostalgia and idealism. Each of these artists’ images remark upon a rapidly changing city, while also acting as social commentary about the at times uncertain evolution of all these types of places.

Paul Madonna, who writes and draws the weekly series All Over Coffee in the San Francisco Chronicle and The Rumpus, tells the stories of the people in a city through his pen and ink drawings accompanied by short, humble, but powerful  anecdotes. The particularly fine example of his work that is on view at Luna Rienne reveals a short story written in the artist’s familiar hand tells of the narrator’s sternly moralistic aunt whose life transition reveals a dark secret. Like Rothenhagen and Watts, Madonna’s work does not directly name San Francisco as the font of inspiration nor the place the story takes place, but also unlike their work, the piece is less symbolic about urbanism than the lives of those who inhabit it. The non-specific images of modern architecture homes alongside the story breathe life into the story, while the works, as illustrations will always do, give visuality to the story.

City Minded will be at Luna Rienne Gallery, 3318 22nd Street through May 11, 2015