Thursday, October 23, 2008

Open Studios 2008 Mission

We had a very successful Fall Open Studios at 18th and Treat Streets last weekend. Not only was it Open Studios throughout all the art collectives in the Mission neighborhood (and there are many now, which is super great), but it was also the building launch party so everyone chipped in for food and lots of wine and a DJ. There were also videos playing on a large screen on the wall in the open space area of the second floor.

We met a ton of great people - every time the building has a large event like this, so many more people in the city find out that we're here and there is lots happening in this new building!

Unfortunately, I was so busy with the event, I did a horrible job getting photos, so I only got one of part of the gallery before the event started and the second photo is just a shot towards the end of the weekend, as the crowd was thinning out upstairs on the second floor pavilion.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Open Studios 2008 at Fort Mason

I have done Open Studios for years at Fort Mason, but this was the first year I had the opportunity to also market the gallery. I showed my own work (encaustics and some oil paintings) but also got to show some things from the gallery and give out gallery postcards and invite people to the Artist Reception coming up this Friday.

We typically have our Open Studios at Fort Mason the same weekend the beer fest is also down there so I've grown accustomed to slightly inebriated art lovers, but this year it was Fleet Week, with tons of people in the Marina for picnicing, partying and watching the Blue Angels. It was great weather and yet another great day in San Francisco. I love living here.

I shared a room with 4 other artists and this was my corner of the room to show some encaustics on the wall, mini oil paintings on the table, greetingcards and so forth. I was pleased that so many more people found out about the gallery during the weekend.

A little fair being set up in the parking lot next to our building. They had live music and rides for kids and food vendors.

The Blue Angels, one flying upside down and one not.

Beautiful clear skies and the Blue Angels flying all close together.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Castro Street Fair October 2008

Our gallery shared a booth at the Castro Street Fair this past Sunday, October 5th. As you can see from the photos below, it was a lovely sunny and warm day and everyone in the Castro was out for a good time. Of course, we had to put some torso's and muscle men paintings on display [smile].

We did really well and met so many nice and colorful people. It's a lot of work to set up the tent and the display (and then take it all down at the end of a looong day) but we had such a great time that it was all very worth while. We were so happy that people were still appreciating art in these tough economic times.

Here's to balloons and rainbow colors and happy friendly crowds of people out enjoying a classic San Francisco event!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Street Fair on Treat Avenue August 24, 2008

There was a very successful street fair this past Sunday, the first real big event at 18th Street & Treat, where the Gallery is located. It was hosted by Helen Fawcett, who has a fabric store just several doors down from the Gallery on Treat Avenue.

There were over 12 local independent bands playing at both ends of the block, over 50 arts and crafts booths in between, and lots and lots of visitors having a glorious day in the warm sun.

One of the goals of the event was to just get the word out that we are here and it was really successful for that. I'd estimate between 3,000 - 4,000 people came to visit and listen to the music and visit the booths and storefronts (including our Gallery!).

It was so successful, they have decided to do an event similar to this once a year.

Below are some pics I took throughout the day.

Here is a shot looking down the street:

This photo is towards the front window of the Gallery:

Here are some shoppers in front of the Gallery:

A great crowd outside the front door of the Gallery enjoying the music:

The next event the Gallery is involved with will be our next "Second Thursday" Open House (we just started these last month) on September 11th, 5-7 pm.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Opening Art Reception for "Water is Gold" August 14, 2008

We had a very successful opening reception for our current exhibit entitled, "Water is Gold", which will be on display through September 30, 2008. Thanks to everyone who came and enjoyed the food and wine and got to experience lots of great art. There were lots of wonderful comments about this show and it is always so terrific to see the artists interacting with the visitors who want to know more about their work. I think that is a really special time for art collectors.

Our reception was also part of a larger "Second Thursday" open house in our building and its been great as more and more people find out about our new building and all the great things going on at this unexpected location. This was our first "Second Thursday" Art Night & Open House and we hope to be doing these every second Thursday of the month (although, for our gallery, an opening reception for a new exhibit occurs every other month, we are certainly going to be doing an Open House every month).

Next big event is Sunday August 24th, when Treat Avenue will be closed off for a block party (11 am - 4 pm) that will include more than 12 local independent bands and lots of arts & crafts booths and of course the gallery will be open throughout the event.

If you are local, feel free to stop in and see the new exhibit, and if you are not able to come to 18th & Treat Avenue, you can always see the art work online at the gallery website.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Art & Estate Sale Sunday August 3rd

The Gallery will be participating in an Art & Estate sale this Sunday, August 3, from 11:00 - 4:00 pm. The sale will be on Treat Avenue in the Mission district, between 17th and 18th and between Folsom and Harrison.

There will be lots of very high-quality items, not at all like a flea market thing - more like our own little Antiques Roadshow with some great art available as well.

If you are local, stop by! If you are not local, you can check out the latest art at

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Gotta Watch Those Scammers

Received an email today:

Hello Kathleen McMahon,

I came across your ad on the Ad site and as a personal shopper for different people

i have an order for this product which you want to sell and i would love to email pics of this product over to my client to view and see if it suits his interest and do let me know what your best selling price would be .

Have a Great day as i wait in anticipation to hearing back from you so as to get it

done with this transaction.

Melissa Wealth

Not bad for an introductory scam email. The exact name of the art piece and the price was in the subject line. She (or he - one never knows the gender of who writes these things) took the time to go through our website and get those two pieces of information. I usually look for gross misspellings, asking for the price when the price is already stated, some indication that they live in one country but are currently located in another, and the use of their own shipping company, and that famous I'll send a check for more than amount and you just send the difference back with the art (I suppose those things would have come up if I had actually written back).

All it took was me googling her/his email address and I quickly saw other scam posts with the same email and name. Her/His IP number was out of Miami, Arizona and yet her/his phone number was Seattle area code. That would have been a second indicator, but I already had enough information to ignore this email.

Gotta watch out for those scammers....

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Opening Art Reception for "Patterns" June 7, 2008

Our gallery held an Open House reception for the new exhibit, "Patterns", running June through July. The Open House was from 1-4 pm and it was a lovely warm, sunny classic San Francisco day.

Some comments I've heard on the new exhibit seem to cause people to think about food, though the artwork is not related to food. One person said Sue Averell's piece, "Reality Skewed" - a cityscape, made her want to eat chocolate. Interesting! Several people have commented that Cari Hernandez's floral beeswax sculptural paintings looked 'yummy enough to eat'. They do!

One collector eyed Sherry Miller's "First African Quilt" and could not get over how cool it looked to him. 'Stunning', he said for the fourth time to me. Margaret Tcheng Ware's, "Reflections" piece has been drawing admiration for its amazing colors and calm quiet tones. Elizabeth Stahl's "Palace of Fine Arts #11" brilliant colors and the strong shadow lines of her "Alta Plaza Park #1" piece has drawn several admirers. Nancy Federice's large "The Relationship" and her "Red #2" made its first gallery debut to a great response. Many people commented on the strong lovely colors in Michie Wong's "Dahlia" photographic piece. I overheard people looking at Michie's "Velvet Fire" photograph, a macro image of a plant showing the patterns, quizzing each other as to trying to guess what it was. And Idell Weiss always draws admiring comments on her California landscapes, of which 3 are featured in this exhibit showing the patterns in nature.

Here are photos of a couple of spots on the wall of the exhibit:

If you didn't have a chance to stop by the reception, please do visit the gallery to check out the exhibit now through the end of July!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Art Exhibit Opening Reception: April 25, 2008

April 25th launched the weekend of Open Studios throughout the Mission district with over 7 different artist collective buildings participating, including ActivSpace - the building where our gallery is located.

Friday night we hosted an opening exhibit reception for our current exhibit, "A Room With A View" (the exhibit runs through the end of May), and we were so pleased to meet so many people, have many of the artist attend to speak with guests and there was a great festive atmosphere and everyone had a great time and got to see some great art.

We continued Open Studios weekend yesterday, with an amazingly sunny and actually hot day - everyone was walking around, in a great mood, and enjoying the warm weather and art. It is a wonderful combination and it could not have been a better weekend for this event. Open Studios continues through today (and another brilliant sunny and hot day is on tap).

Here are a couple of photos from our Friday night reception.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Spring Open Studios April 25-27, 2008

We will be participating in the Mission district Spring Open Studios event, being held next weekend: Friday April 25 (7-9 pm, the preview reception night), and Saturday and Sunday April 26-27 (11-5 pm).

There are at least 7 artist collective buildings in the Mission that will be open next weekend, full of interesting art. Our building, called ActivSpace, is the newest addition to the neighborhood.

We can be found at 3150 18th Street (which is really odd because the front door and all the mail boxes are actually on Treat Street - I'm not sure what the post office was thinking...) between Folsom and Harrison (Treat Street is located between 17th and 18th and is a one way street to be entered from 17th by car). By bus, both the 24 Mission and the 22 Fillmore bus lines run very nearby.

Our individual art space is number 105 right along the street front. The exhibit we are currently showing is called "A Room With a View" (which runs through the end of May) and we are offering special discounts from our website ( just until the end of Open Studios weekend. Plus we'll have things that weekend not shown on the website.

Even though many artist tenants are still moving into their spaces in our brand new building (5 floors of studios!) there are *plenty* of artists all ready to show their wares next weekend. And the other collectives have been doing this event for years.

We are looking forward to a great weekend of meeting lots of great people!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Clay Art Burnished and Pit-Fired Pottery Vessels

We are so pleased to be representing the fine work of local artist, Judy Hummell.

Judy creates clay art burnished and pit-fired pottery vessels. They are really quite stunning. U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein from San Francisco purchased one. The swirls in each pot are very complex and distinctive, and the surface is so smooth and shiny - it makes you want to kind of rub it like a magic lantern or something.

Of course given that very smooth and shiny and curvy surface, it was about near impossible to take digital photos of her pieces that would really do them justice. She tells me even professional photographers have turn her down because they felt the work was too difficult to photograph. But in person, they are just gorgeous!

Here are her own comments on her process and below her comments are a couple of sample photos of her pieces:

My pots are hand-built using the method of coiling and a low-fire red clay called Navajo Wheel. Coiling is a slow process, but I find it enjoyable, rolling out the coils, attaching one coil at a time, smoothing and shaping the growing walls of the pot as I go along. During the drying process, I burnish the pots several times with a smooth stone in order to achieve a high polish. No glaze is used. When the pots are completely dry, they are bisque-fired in an electric kiln to about 1500 F. Since they are fired at this low temperature, my pots will not hold water. Next the pots are taken to the beach and a pit is dug in the sand. Sawdust is put into the pit and the pots are placed in the sawdust. Black results wherever the pot touches the sawdust. Copper carbonate and sea salt sprinkled in the sawdust around the pots create variations in color, especially reds. I most often use wood scraps as fuel, but sometimes I use cow dung, or both wood and dung. When the fire has died down I cover the pit with sheet metal so that the pots will cool slowly and not crack. The firing usually lasts all day. The most exciting time is of course at the end of the day when the pots are cool enough to remove from the pit. No two pots emerge from the fire alike; each is unique and the results are always a surprise.

A light coat of carnauba wax is applied to the pots to bring out the colors and to finish them.

The photos below are not professional. They are just a best attempt with a digital camera. You can see more of Judy's work at

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Two New Dance Figurative Paintings at the Gallery

Margaret Tcheng Ware has been working on a series of figurative paintings that celebrate her past as a dancer and captures the dynamic energy and beautiful lines of professional dancers. We now have two of these available for sale at the Gallery.

Here are her own comments on it:

"In my new series of dance paintings, I come full circle back to my first love, which is dance. Usually, I approach these paintings by conceiving of a composition made up of individual poses. Separately, each dancer’s gesture is powerful; combined, or re-combined, the impact of their gestures can be even greater than the sum of the parts. This is my goal in these paintings - - to try and express the drama, the rich gamut and the ambiguity of feelings, inherent in the human figure when moving. The overall title for this body of work comes from my own experience In the theater: it is during those highly charged moments when both performers and audience alike are totally committed and engaged in the moment that they experience together the excitement of being in 'a more vivid place'."

See purchase either of these or see more work from Margaret:

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Collecting Encaustic Paintings

There has been a recent resurgence of interest in encaustic art. More and more contemporary artists are exploring this fascinating media, doing everything from abstract work to collage and mixed-media to representational paintings and even sculpture. Art collectors are coming to appreciate this form of expression and also are interested in knowing more about it and how to take care of their purchase.

Let's begin with a little background. The word "encaustic" comes from the Greek word "enkaustikos" which means "to burn in", referring to a process of the combining of hot natural wax with colored pigments to simultaneously paint and sculpt a surface and then fuse the layers together. As a technique that can be applied to just about any medium, it has been used to create unique multi-dimensional effects in art since the time of the ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans for use in their elaborate burial tombs, which have survived for centuries. Despite its durability, encaustic art lost favor during the Renaissance due to what was thought to be cumbersome requirements, considering tools they had available at that time. Encaustics has enjoyed a resurgence as a result of modern advances in technology and safety (in heating appliances) as well as its use by more contemporary well-known artists such as Jasper Johns and Diego Rivera. The encaustic beeswax medium, with its organic qualities, is not only beautiful because of its inherent and evocative luster and translucency, but it is one of the most durable of all artists' paints, since wax is impervious to moisture.

After completion of an encaustic painting there is a curing process of a few months. During this time moisture will work its way to the surface and cause a slight haze. If your painting looks dull, or gets dirty it can be wiped clean with water and buffed (gently, firmly but not overly vigorously) to a high gloss using a soft lint-free cloth such as cotton. This sheen dulls over time and can be brought back by repeating the process. Again, gentle is the word.

Encaustic paintings do not have to be varnished or protected by glass. The painting is stable under normal temperatures. Indirect sunlight is perfectly fine, however, I would not recommend direct sunlight (actually direct sunlight is inadvisable for any type of painting but even more so for wax-based paintings). Extreme cold can make the wax more brittle and susceptible to cracking. Again, extreme temperatures are bad for any fine art, not just encaustics. Other inadvisable locations within your house would be any spot near heat sources (such as fireplaces, over the stove in the kitchen, etc). Only direct heat or temperatures in excess of 130 degrees may begin to soften the work. Very hot days can soften the surface very slightly, but will cause no real damage to the painting. Do not leave an encaustic painting in trunk of your car on a hot day. Even with these measures, if the wax on your painting does soften, and/or dulling occurs, wait until the painting has hardened (by moving it to a cooler location) and buff it with a soft cloth.

Always protect the surface and edges of the encaustic painting when moving it. Although the surface is completely dry, encaustic paintings can be easily scratched, gouged, or chipped if handled roughly. While most encaustic wax paintings have damar in the wax (a hardening component), it is still primarily wax. Overall, encaustic paintings are extremely durable due to the fact that beeswax is impervious to moisture. Because of this it will not deteriorate and it will not lose its brilliance.

Examples of encaustic paintings have survived from the Greek and Roman empires and are still as vibrant and colorful today as they were when they were painted.

As a collector of encaustic paintings, you will enjoy the depth, the luminousity, and the wonderful creative expressions artists are creating in this media, but you will also have a piece - if the artist properly constructed the layers of wax in the painting, that will long outlast you and your children.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tunli, China Oil Impressionist Painting

"Tunli, China" is an beautiful impressionist original oil painting available for sale at the gallery, 24" h x 24 w" (unframed size), by internationally collected artist Margaret Tcheng Ware.

The painting is already framed with a substantial 3" wide gold frame and comes wired and ready to hang.

Here are Margaret's comments on this piece: "While visiting Shanghai in August of 2007, hoping to cool off, I decided to take a side trip to one of the smaller "canal towns" in the region. The day I was in Tunli, the sun was beating down hard on the grey-tiled roofs, but as I sat in one of the tourist sampans plying the waterways that crisscross the town, I was mesmerized by the reflections in the water and charmed by the strings of gay red lanterns that hung from many of the buildings lining the canals."

Read more about Margaret here:

Monday, February 18, 2008

Canyon Calls 2 Encaustic Painting

This is a new encaustic beeswax painting available for sale called "Canyon Calls 2", part of the Canyon Calls series of encaustics. It is 12x12" and painted on a wood cradle support. It has over 30 layers of pigmented wax that have been applied and then carefully scraped back with a razor blade.

You can see more gallery paintings at

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

New Encaustic Paintings by Cari Hernandez

Two new works are now available at our gallery, from Cari Hernandez, contemporary encaustic artist: "Oh... luscious" and "Passion Pod" (see images below).

These are part of Cari's "Oh" series which is a lively series that has been described as "visceral". It was developed while on a quest to explore jubilant emotion-creating a sense of movement and spontaneity in form.

The painting is pigmented pharmaceutical-grade beeswax painted on a solid box-like wood support. The encaustic beeswax medium, with its organic qualities, is not only beautiful because of its inherent and evocative luster and translucency, but it is one of the most durable of all artists' paints, since wax is impervious to moisture.

It is sold unframed (its cradle is so deep, it definitely doesn't need framing) and comes wired and ready to hang. The depth of her color layers and luminosity in her wax is just stunning. Instructions for the care of encaustic paintings come with the piece.

Cari is open to considering commission projects based on her work and style.

You can see more paintings at:

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Gallery Introduction

Kathleen McMahon Fine Art Gallery is a gallery located in San Francisco, CA. We represent the work of contemporary artists with work that ranges from California landscapes and cityscapes to abstracts to expressionism to pottery to hand-blown glass. Some artists work primarily in oils, some in encaustic beeswax, some in acrylics, and others in clay and glass.

We offer artwork for sale both in our gallery and online at our website

Our gallery is located in the Mission district of San Francisco:

Kathleen McMahon Fine Art
3150 18th Street, Suite 105
San Francisco, CA 94110
Open Tues-Sat 11am-5pm

The gallery door is actually on Treat Street, between 17th and 18th Street (even though our mailing box sits on 18th Street), and Treat Street sits between Folsom and Harrison Street.

This blog will be a place to look for gallery news, as well as news about our represented artists, interesting San Francisco art news, feature current or newly added work, thoughts and ramblings. Put our blog on your RSS feed to keep up to date on new postings.

We look forward to seeing you at the gallery or one of our events!