"Innovative" and "approachable" are two words not often matched in the art world, a notoriously opaque realm only the well-versed seem able to navigate. The rest of us just stumble around, hoping our canned observations hit some kind of intelligible mark and capture the artist's intention, whatever that means. But there's no bumbling at Sandra Lee Gallery, the San Francisco space that uses those two adjectives to describe their stable of Bay Area artists.
Douglas Malone's haunting and alluring pieces address the "existential unease" born from the tension between the "need to preserve the individual self, and the desire to overcome separateness." There's an emotional distance in his pieces. Alone or together, the men he depicts touch a vein even the most pedestrian of viewers can understand.
Another of the gallery's painters, Santa Monica-born Gregg Chadwick, layers images to celebrate "humanity's tensile strength."
"In antiquity and later during the Middle Ages, manuscript pages made from animal hides were often scraped down and used again. Faint traces of the underwritings on these parchments, called palimpsests, survived," he says, referring to his technical inspiration. "My painting process involves a series of applications and erasures, as if to echo layered fragments from the past." Paintings are "like pauses in the race of time," he explains, and his portrayals of rushing women in red and somber men in the rain deserve serious consideration.
So too do the luscious, enchanting works by Stephanie Jucker, a Brit who moved to the Bay area in 1991, which means she has definitely gone past being a transplant and become practically a native. Jucker says her paintings are autobiographical yet tinged with magical realism, a beautiful state of existence one imagines could exist only in a place like San Francisco, a place like none other.