January 20, 2011
The Cool Revival: Sonia Gechtoff in San Francisco
Art In America
By Faye Hirsch
January 20, 2011


The Cool Revival: Sonia Gechtoff in San Francisco
Art In America
By Faye Hirsch
January 20, 2011

Tough, straight-talking abstract painter Sonia Gechtoff is currently being rescued from ill-deserved obscurity, swept up in a wave of fervor for Abstract Expressionism sparked by MoMA’s more narrowly selected show (up through Apr. 25). Gechtoff, though, got her start on the West Coast. She had the first solo show at Ferus Gallery in L.A. in 1957, was photographed by Hans Namuth, married the brilliant, under-known artist James Kelly and was once so angry she threw her inebriated lover, the Bay Area abstractionist Ernest Briggs, down a flight of stairs.

Gechtoff is one of just two surviving members of the 18 Bay Area artists, angelheaded hipsters all, featured in the splendid exhibition “Bella Pacifica: Bay Area Abstraction 1946–1963, A Symphony in Four Acts,” mounted at four venues around the city: Leslie Feely Fine Art, Nyehaus, Franklin Parrasch Gallery (all through Mar. 5) and David Nolan Gallery (through Feb. 5).

Born in 1926 in Philadelphia, Gechtoff arrived in San Francisco in 1951 and found a heady mix of artists, poets and jazz musicians feeding off each others’ energy in a scene as lively as anything back East.

Her large oil Angel (1960) is featured on flyers and in ads for “Bella Pacifica,” and it has pride of place at David Nolan Gallery, which focuses on the 6 Gallery. An artists’ cooperative that flourished between 1954 and ’57 at 3119 Fillmore Street, the gallery is best known as the place where Allen Ginsberg first read “Howl,” on Oct. 7, 1955, initiating a national controversy.

Paintings, collages and assemblages by Gechtoff’s contemporaries Hassel Smith, Deborah Remington, Jess, Bruce Conner, Wally Hedrick and Kelly, all of whom showed at 6 Gallery, are on also view at Nolan.

Gechtoff, a terrific raconteur, talked to me about the Bay Area scene, which she remembers in sharp detail.

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January 17, 2017
Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts
J. Willard Marriott Library
The University of Utah, 01/17/2017

The University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library will host the art exhibition Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts, Jan. 20-March 3.

Artnauts, an art collective formed 20 years ago by George Rivera, professor of art and art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, consists of 300 global artists who serve as goodwill ambassadors, acknowledging and supporting victims of oppression worldwide. Their creativity has generated over 230 exhibitions across five continents. Five faculty members from the U’s Department of Art and Art History are members of the collective, Sandy Brunvand, Beth Krensky, V. Kim Martinez, Brian Snapp and Xi Zhang.

Globalocation derives from “Globalocational Art” — a concept used by the Artnauts to refer to their exhibitions in international venues. It is the mission of the Artnauts to take art to places of contention, and this anniversary exhibition is a sample of places where they have been and themes they have addressed.

“The Artnauts could not exist without the commitment of the artists in the collective to a common vision of the transformative power of art,” said Rivera. “The Artnauts make their contribution with art that hopefully generates a dialogue with an international community on subjects that are sometimes difficult to raise.”

Krensky, associate department chair of the Art and Art History Department, had the opportunity to travel with Rivera in Chile as part of an Artnauts project, working with mothers who were searching for their children who had mysteriously disappeared during a time of political unrest.

“When I travelled to Chile in 1998, George and I spent an afternoon with the Mothers of the Disappeared, and the meeting changed my life,” said Krensky. “It was from that moment on that I placed a picture of them on my desk to look at every day. I was so moved by what they each had lost — a son, a brother, a father — and yet what remained for them was a deep, deep well of love. They were fierce warriors and stood up to the government to demand the whereabouts and information of the people who had disappeared, but they lived within profound love.”

The 20th anniversary exhibition at the Marriott Library is a retrospective of the traveling works the Artnauts have toured around the globe. The exhibition will be located on level three of the library. The opening reception is open to the public and will be held on Friday, Jan 20, 4-6 p.m. Rivera will speak at 4 p.m.

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