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Bay Area Figurative Art

Bay Area Figurative Art:  A Contrast in Styles

at Chroma Art Design

Friday, May 14th to Friday, June 25th, 2010

 Curator Geoffrey Smith of has been working diligently with veteran Bay Area artist Takeshi Nakayoshi to assemble a diverse yet complementary group of contemporary Bay Area artists, to organize solo and group shows for these artists, and to help market their works. “Bay Area Figurative Art:  A Contrast in Styles” is the third show at Chroma Art Design for this group. For this show, three new artists have been added to the group including William McElhiney, a former student of Richard Diebenkorn and the San Francisco Art Institute. In addition two young women figurative artists, Jennifer Bloomer and Jennifer Downey have agreed to participate. Selections of Takeshi Nakayoshi’s recent figurative works, created during the 2006-2009 period are also included.

This show presents a spectrum of styles ranging from Takeshi Nakayoshi’s essentially “figurative abstractions” to Jennifer Downey’s work that is more akin to contemporary realism with emphasis on female power and natural environments. Bill McElhiney’s work is more reminiscent of the earlier Bay Area Figurative Movement, while Jennifer Bloomer’s work combines realistic figure renditions with abstract and creative backgrounds, reflecting her thoughts and life experiences in the U.S. and overseas. The contrasts presented in the show not only reflect the differences in individual styles between all four artists, but also some interesting fundamental differences between the works of the two older male artists and the two younger women. Nakayoshi and McElhiney are both more concerned with the aesthetics of the color, line, form, balance and shapes in their work as well as emotional and psychological content and impact. This is more consistent with Modernist principles. Although aesthetics are also important to them, Downey and Bloomer are at least equally concerned with social issues such as the power of women, nature and the environment, interpersonal communication and the information explosion, reflecting the trend in contemporary art to add conceptual elements including attention to social issues.

Takeshi Nakayoshi’s latest oil paintings have recently transitioned through a two to three year figurative phase, although most of his work still remains primarily abstract (to be included in our next show later this summer). In his work and life Takeshi is continuously and heavily influenced by the works of other highly creative individuals, such as most recently the writer Tennessee Williams, the filmmaker Antonioni, the American musician Dave Brubeck and the African musician Fela Kuti. Throughout his career Takeshi has been particularly inspired by the works of Matisse and Diebenkorn. He strives to create a balance of color, line and form…a kind of harmonious poetry in paint. In Takeshi’s own words …”I immerse myself in the interaction of paint and other fluids, the texture, finish, and pigmentation. I create improvisational poems of life, simultaneously bold and subtle, by layering my feelings on canvas of our exotically aesthetic world.”

William McElhiney’s style is rooted in the Bay Area Figurative tradition. He studied for his MFA with Diebenkorn, James Weeks, and Frank Lobdell in the 60’s. With only a brief flirtation with Photo Realism in the early 70’s, his painting has stayed figurative and imagist. His work is strongly based on direct observation. He has also been heavily influenced by Matisse, and has just returned from a month long pilgrimage to Nice. Bill’s 2009 painting “Portrait of J.L.” serves as the theme piece for our show. In the Fall 2009, “Portrait of J.L.”  was selected by Theophilus Brown, one of the original Bay Area Figurative artists, in a juried competition from among hundreds of submittals to participate in a major figurative show in downtown San Francisco.

Jennifer Downey believes our Western culture could benefit from the power and intelligence of nature and the feminine. To that end, she creates oil paintings on canvas that pair portraits of strong, dark-haired women with striking and sublime landscapes. Her rich palette, combined with a stark visual quality, further contributes to the depth and intensity of her work.


Jennifer Bloomer uses mixed media, graphite, oil paint, and newspaper in her work, primarily on board. Her pieces speak to the shared human experience, addressing the tension between the massive amounts of information available to our society and the way we connect to people on a real and human level. With ever increasing access to information, individuals are faced with the question of how much they let in, and how they understand events occurring in real people's lives all over the globe. Now a resident of the Bay Area, Jennifer spent years living abroad and her paintings reflect these experiences.

More detailed biographies and artists statements are available at the show location at Chroma Art Design or on request from the curator.

Curator:   Geoffrey Smith     925-788-7361

Chroma Art Design  415-552-9661

218 Mississippi Street

San Francisco, CA 94107


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