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Feasts for the Senses

Galleries serve up an array of holiday cheer



Last January, former Tiburon Fine Art proprietor Deborah Molinar added a new space to her evolving lineup of Marin arts venues. The Art Bar at 46 Main Street sits just doors down from its sister space at 34 Main (long the studio-gallery of painter James Liu), providing her with a showcase for a signature collection of paintings by Kathleen Dunne as well as works by other established visual artists.

While the exhibitions presented at the Art Bar recall those Molinar mounted at Tiburon Fine Art, the approach is somewhat different. The stated mission of the Art Bar is to pair art with a complementary selection of wine—a fitting marriage in the culturally (and vinoculturally) rich Bay Area.

“The intention of the Art Bar is to provide a comfortable environment for people to explore the arts, enjoy a glass of wine and have a unique experience in Tiburon,” says Molinar. Her inspiration is 19th-century Paris salons, “where fine art was viewed and enjoyed while sipping drinks and exchanging cultural ideas and philosophies.”
On December 4 the Art Bar presents a reception to highlight an exhibition of paintings by Dunne and Tiburon-based Adam Miller. The artists’ styles diverge, but they share an affinity for European traditions: Dunne uses a wet-on-wet technique that recalls the process for making frescoes, and her subject matter is frequently Greek and Italian landscapes; Miller draws on the classical painting of Renaissance and Baroque masters, even when his compositions are decidedly contemporary. The reception takes place at the gallery from 6 to 9 p.m. and is open to the public.

The Art Bar, 46 Main St, Tiburon, 415.435.5999,
artbar.us; 11–5 Wed–Sun, or by appointment


The holidays bring a flurry of treasures great and small to Donna Seager Gallery in San Rafael. From December 2 through January 15 the gallery showcases a selection of paintings by Michael Cutlip and sculptural works by husband-and-wife team Marie and Carl Dern.

Bay Area native Cutlip creates dreamy, layered confections imbued with nostalgia and whimsy. While his works generally have a sizeable footprint, they are not imposing; many of the pieces comprise an assortment of small paintings on panels—5- to 8-inch squares—arranged in a grid. Marked by pastel colors, soft lines and alluring imagery, the pieces conjure notions of a baker’s display case, brimming with cupcakes and old-fashioned delights.

The Derns, who live in Fairfax, are both accomplished artists, favoring different media—Marie, book art, and Carl, sculpture. Their collaborations provide opportunities to unite their affinities, resulting in handmade, sculptural books that expand upon the concept of artist’s books and serve as enchanting objects. This exhibition in the artist’s book gallery presents an assortment of the Derns’ solo and joint creations.

The public is invited to attend an opening reception for the exhibitions from 6 to 8 p.m. on December 12. The gallery also plans an artist talk featuring the Derns on December 5; call for details.

Donna Seager Gallery, 851 Fourth St, San Rafael, 415.454.4229,
donnaseagergallery.com; 11–6 Tue–Sat, 1–5 Sun, closed Mon

From December 6 through January 17, Smith Andersen North presents Dirty Dishes, an exhibition of provocative painted ceramics by Berkeley-based artist Gail Chadell Nanao.

Perhaps best known for her large canvases and works on paper, Nanao expanded her repertoire to include ceramics several years ago. Despite the variance in media, however, her subject matter remains consistent—notably, nudes.

“The lines and contours of the clay have presented me with new and exciting spaces and colors,” says the artist, who frequently depicts her subjects in suggestive poses. “My choice of sometimes erotic imagery stems from the fact that such figures are somewhat unexpected on ceramics, providing an interesting juxtaposition. Melding and blending the curves of the human figure with the curves of the ceramics adds, for me, an aspect of the unanticipated and playful to these new pieces.”

A former student of Nathan Oliveira, Nanao evidences the influence of the Bay Area Figurative Movement. Her abstracted nudes suggest a fluidity and elegance, even when their activities stray into the immodest.

The gallery hosts an opening reception for the exhibition and gløgg (a Scandinavian punch) holiday fete on December 6 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Smith Andersen North, 2240A Fourth St, San Rafael, 415.455.9733,
smithandersennorth.com; 10–6 Tue–Fri, 12–5 Sat and by appointment, closed Sun–Mon

An exhibition currently on view in San Francisco’s City Hall may give visitors a new perspective on seeing. Insights 2008, installed on the building’s lower level as part of an ongoing San Francisco Arts Commission program, is the 19th annual juried exhibition of works by visually impaired artists.

The presentation includes more than 100 pieces by nearly 50 artists from around the world and encompasses photographs, sculptures, paintings and mixed media. The common denominator is that all the artists are either blind or visually impaired—a fact that challenges traditional assumptions about who can create visual art. In the words of Pete Eckert, a blind photographer from Sacramento, “I’m a very visual person, I just can’t see.”

The exhibition, organized in collaboration with the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, continues through December 12. LightHouse has provided advocacy, information and service for the blind and visually impaired since 1902.

San Francisco City Hall, Lower Level, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco, 415.554.6080,
sfacgallery.org; 8–8 Mon–Fri, closed Sat–Sun

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