In 1993 as we were preparing to move from the fog-enveloped hills of San Francisco to the starkly lit, high desert of northern New Mexico, I had an odd dream. I dreamed we were looking at a house in Santa Fe, a house we were thinking about buying. The house contained a beauty shop equipped with styling chairs, an endless row of mirrors, built-in hairdryers, shelves of conditioners, the works. I forgot the dream until ten years later, when a woman walked into our gallery at 219 West San Francisco in Santa Fe and said, "I just had to see what this place looks like now. You know, back in the Seventies, I went to beauty school right here in this space. The chairs were along this wall and the dryers were back there. Looks a little different now!"
So that would explain the water fountains in the hallway behind the exhibition area...
... the separate "institutional" women and men's restrooms, equipped with a total of five stalls, two sinks, and a urinal.
I mean it's nice to be able to spread out a little, but all of this behind-the-scenes plumbing for a mom-and-pop gallery is overkill.
It does seems appropriate, however, in some quirky way, that the current home of Convergence Gallery was once home to an institution that schooled people in the art of beauty. That's part of our job description too, has been since 1985, when we opened our doors in San Francisco, California. Back then our children sometimes accompanied us to work...
They blended right in.
Through the years, they continued to blend. Ours has been a "family" business in the most fundamental sense. Here we are sitting on the steps of our earlier location in Santa Fe...
And here we are again, a few years later, standing in front of that location. We were on Alameda Street at Old Santa Fe Trail, across from the Santa Fe River. We had a lovely view of the cottonwoods lining the river and a sweet little garden area in front where we planted petunias, pansies, and painted pots.
The rent was low and we stayed in the Alameda space for almost nine years. Then one evening we were walking to the Lensic Performing Arts Center on San Francisco Street to see a screening of Nosferatu accompanied by live music by Club Foot Orchestra. Two doors from the Lensic was an empty retail space with large windows. For years we had wanted a space on Santa Fe's main drag, West San Francisco. Next morning we called to inquire and learned that the rent was triple our current nut. Ouch.
Somehow we put together a bearable deal and a couple of months later, we hung our egg-shaped sign in front.
If you happen to be staying at the Eldorado, Santa Fe's largest hotel...
...you need only leave your hotel, walk to your left, cross the street, and we're less than half a block away. Enter the door at 219 West San Francisco, and you will most likely be greeted by a scene like this...
Look to your immediate right, and you will see a small front gallery where someone's paintings will be hanging. In this picture you can see just a part of Albert Scharf's "Captivated," an oil painting measuring 60 inches by 48 inches. We are blessed by twelve-foot high ceilings. Large-format paintings have plenty of room to breathe.
A good thing, as Albert's paintings breathe rather deeply...looks a little like SKY WATCH FRIDAY, except in oils on canvas.
This one's called "Blue Dusk." It's an oil on canvas measuring 30 inches by 40 inches.
Mesmerizing, isn't it?
Walk forward and you will come face to face with one of Bennie's "grandfather" clocks.
It's called "Magician's Birthday."
Continue walking, glance to your left, and you will see our work station, which is graced by a Paul McCobb desk. Various dealers have attempted to buy our desk for a few hundred dollars, with the intention of restoring it to its original blond maple and selling it for a few dollars more. I purchased the desk, when the kids were babies, from a crowded little store called Past Tense, in the Mission district of San Francisco. It already had a sad coat of off-white paint, but the lines were retro and Space Agey and I readily paid the $20 asking price. The desk was assigned to our home office. When we decided to use it at the gallery, Bennie painted it in the turquoise/periwinkle/hot pink scheme.
Funny thing is people seldom notice the other notable piece, the Eames chair which is pretty much in its original condition. And one just like it resides in MOMA, New York. Bennie acquired the Eames chair from his landlord in San Francisco.
That was one of my paintings hanging over the desk, in the harsh spot of the halogen.
And here is "My Forgotten City," which measures 24 inches by 48 inches...
"Inside the Pyramid," a painting of the same dimensions, now resides in the collection of the CEO of a chain of art supply stores. He and his wife visited our gallery and decided they'd like it in their home. And guess what? I'd just bought my last batch of canvas in one of his stores. A Klassic Kase of Kanvas Karma...
And here are still more of my paintings, ranging in size from 24 inches by 30 inches to 48 inches by 36 inches. They are hanging on the left wall, just inside the front door.
In the foreground is yet another view of "Magician's Birthday." The top is actually a lid which lifts off to reveal a secret compartment. We have one. We put love letters and utility bills in ours.
Keep walking, look back over your shoulder, and you can see the back of the Eames chair, another of my paintings, and our pink columns. You will also get a fleeting glimpse of the realist paintings of Massachusetts painter Laura Anderson. Several are hanging on the columns, along with some painted, carved bateas, or, "small flat boats."
That's too fleeting actually. Here's a better view of one of Laura's sumptuous paintings--"Two Chairs, Open Window," acrylic on canvas, 12 inches by 11 inches.
And here's Laura's personal take on one of the artists of the Hudson River School of painting. She "pears" it with her personal vision and calls it "Huntington's Late Afternoon Pear." It's acrylic on canvas and measures 9 inches by 10 inches.
Our gallery is blessed by two other extremely talented realists. Carolyn Lamuniere lives here in Santa Fe and paints light-suffused interior spaces that open to other spaces. And when she paints an exterior space, it's from a similar perspective--with a hint of things to come...
Again, that's far too fleeting a glimpse. Here's one up close. "Place of Stillness," oil on canvas, measuring 28 inches by 18 inches.
And "Staircase III," measuring 27 inches by 18 inches.
Talk about a tricky perspective. This makes me dizzy, and in the best of ways.
Fulbright scholar Christopher Terry lives in Utah, where he's a professor of art. Believe it or not, he doesn't consider himself a realist.
Although his technique is highly realistic, he sets up his compositions to evoke the notion of ritual. Here is my personal favorite--"Offering," oil on canvas, measuring 40 inches by 32 inches.
Isn't that floor dazzling?
And later this week, we will be adding the paintings of a fourth realist--Karen Cole, who paints sensual macrocosmic views of flowers. Our gallery is a block and a half from the O'Keeffe Museum and I can already hear people comparing these to Ms. Georgia's. Similar perspective, wildly different technique.
And did you know we enjoy whimsy?
Portland painter Bonnie Taylor-Talbot works in a "naif" style...
and stamps phrases on her acrylic paintings in silver ink...
I had the pleasure of selling one of Bonnie's chicken paintings to actress Connie Stevens. The canvas depicted a chorus line of chickens in exotic headgear. It was called "Party Girls." It suited Connie.
Bonnie's paintings are kindred spirits to Bennie's clocks, all of which have those secret compartments...
(Are those Wild Bill Tick Tocks not some extraordinary time machines?)
...and to Elizabeth McNitt's vibrant painted vessels, which take southwestern design to the next level...
Want to see what's in the back gallery? Well, walk through this door...
...and feast your eyes on the amazing paintings of Iran-born Sussan Afrasiabian. Hers is a Modernist sensibility--there's a bit of a nod to cubism, but even more so, a 21st century, feminine awareness, a grace and fluidity that is simply stunning.
I enjoy the way Sussan's faceless, archetypal women watch over the little Tungsten Table, purchased in the SOMA district of San Francisco, from a designer/artist who came up with a clever line called "The Periodic Tables." The chairs are Sixties era Italian wrought iron dinette chairs from Modernology in Hayes Valley, San Francisco.
In our side gallery are the dramatic, larger-than-life figurative paintings of L.A. artist Sarena Rosenfeld, along with the painted vessels of Elizabeth Mcnitt and the paintings of Christopher Terry, both of which I mentioned earlier.
"Pagliacci" looms beautifully, his inclined head contemplating a whole new slant on things.
And "Baby, Baby, I'm Falling in Love" makes a splashy statement about the largeness of love. It measures 72 inches by 72 inches. Sarena's paintings have been collected by Meg Ryan, Pierce Brosnan, and Dennis Quaid, among other Hollywood notables.
They are show-stoppers, aren't they?
In our main gallery we are featuring the sparse, pared-down-to-luminous-essentials, New Mexico landscapes of Spanish painter Julia Gil.
We recently shipped this 48-inch-square oil painting to a collector in Manhattan. She wanted to reserve the right to gaze regularly at the peaceful "Hills of New Mexico." Lucky city dweller.
Julia's paintings have a storybook quality.
This one's called "The Arrival of Good News" and measures 36 inches square.
...It's a little like stepping into a dream. A very good dream.
Can you see why I look forward to my workday? When I open the door in the morning, I feel a mini reawakening to life. So much joyous energy resides in each artist's work. I walk around, rearranging the pots and clocks, touching the surface of a canvas or two. So many dreams being released into the world. I can hear those dreams, humming underneath the surface. Or is that the hum of the hairdryers from the old beauty school?
I couldn't count the hours we've invested here since 1985. And we keep coming back...
It's like what Woody Allen said about human relationships.
"We need the eggs."