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Exhibiting NOW in the San Francisco Bay Area: Mosaic Artists Kate Kerrigan & Ellen Blakeley

On 21, Jan 2012 | 5 Comments | In Uncategorized | By man-admin

Kate Kerrigan, February Morning, Paris 2008  24″ x 32″  Italian marble, gold smalti

Two very fine mosaic artists had gallery openings last week in the San Francisco Bay Area.  By coincidence, both of these women, Kate Kerrigan and Ellen Blakeley, were selected by Crocker Art Museum Curator Scott Shields for inclusion in Mosaic Art NOW’s 2010 Exhibition in Print.  Chilly winds and rainy streets notwithstanding, if you are in the area we highly recommend that you put on your galoshes and take advantage of the opportunity to see beautiful mosaics in gallery settings.

Kate Kerrigan, whose February Morning, Paris is seen above, has opened her one-woman show “Urban Scenes” at Focus Gallery in San Francisco’s North Beach area.

Kerrigan is well-known for artful mosaic interpretations of her own photography.

 February Morning   2000

Whether photographic or mosaic, Kerrigan’s evocative image making captures isolated human elements within repetitive urban shapes and patterns.  In February Morning, Paris (the work selected for MAN’s 2010 Exhibition in Print) a solitary figure can be found found lingering on a park bench within a field of recurring trees, lamp posts and grates.

In her mosaic interpretation of this photograph, Kerrigan has chosen to apply the classical mosaic background pattern known as opus circumactum to the street pavement–adding yet another pattern and, at the same time, providing a much-needed visual differentiation from the background and sidewalk areas.

Kerrigan captured another solitary human element within urban patterning in this wonderful photograph of an aqua alta filled Piazza San Marco in Venice.

 A Walk in the Rain   2000

Here is Kerrigan’s mosaic interpretation.

A Walk in the Rain  2007  24″ x 16″  Marble.

Kerrigan was named a finalist in the international mosaic competition known as the 2009 Orsoni Awards for another watery mosaic,  Rainy Day, Central Park.

Rainy Day, Central Park  2009  22″ x 32″ Smalti, gold smalti

What you can’t see in these photos is Kerrigan’s skillful, careful use of white gold smalti to represent the rain-shiny pavement in the original photograph.  All the more reason to go the exhibit if you can.

Rainy Day, Central Park   1997

Our favorite in the group of mosaics being shown at The Focus Gallery is The Red Umbrella

The Red Umbrella   2010  24″ x 16″  Marble, smalti

Finally, the rain has stopped and our unseen friend is home safe and dry.

The Red Umbrella   2008

Kerrigan tells us that the opening was a great success with a full house of happy viewers–and buyers–all evening long.  The seven mosaics being shown comprise the total of Kerrigan’s mosaic work since 2007; she is nothing if not meticulous.  The exhibit runs now through February 1st.  Details below.

All photos courtesy of the artist.

Ellen Blakeleyis showing three works in the group show “Bakers Dozen” at the Quicksilver Mine Co. in Forestville, CA.  We made attending the opening part of a Saturday safari through west Sonoma County.

Heartwood  2012  Glass, wood, mixed media
Photography by Douglas Sandberg

All three of the works in Bakers Dozen are from Blakeley’s “Bark Series.” In these homages to the beauty in nature, Blakeley applies her signature mosaic technique–broken tempered glass over a melange of paint, pigments, and metallic powders–to pieces of oak bark and wood she finds on walks in a vineyard near her studio.

It was one of the first works in this series, Meredith, that Scott Shields chose as Best in Show for Mosaic Art NOW’s 2010 Exhibition in Print.

Meredith  2010  23″ x 7″  Tempered glass, bark, mixed media.
Photograph by Douglas Sandberg

Quicksilver Mine Co. is showing Blakeley’s latest and one can see how the work has evolved, becoming even more complex and rich.   These next two mosaics are so new that they have not been to the professional photographer yet, so we put our iPhone to work on Sunday.

Evelyn  2011 Tempered glass, bark, mixed media

In the detail photograph above, one can see Blakeley’s genius with color and texture at work;  the artist creates whole worlds to explore.

Born Free  2012  Tempered glass, wood, mixed media

Of the “Bark Series Blakeley” says

As an artist, I can’t compete with nature–merely pay my respects intuitively.  The shapes are gently curved.  The outlines are organic, random and totally non-human–delightful boundaries to work into.

Ellen Blakeley (r)
Quicksilver Mine Co. may be off the beaten path, but it is well worth finding.  The space is quite beautiful and owner Khysie Horn has assembled an exciting group of Northern California artists.  Here are two more pieces from “Bakers Dozen” that almost followed us home.
 Fred Fedder  Cracked Earth  2010  Beeswax
Susan Field  Untitled   2012 Carpet padding, buttons, bells, found objects
As the song goes – sort of – the weather outside might be frightful, but these mosaics are most delightful – and worth the effort.  Go.

Enjoy –  Nancie

Urban Scenes
January 19 – February 1, 2012
Focus Gallery  1534 Grant Street San Francisco, CA
(415) 706-0898
Baker’s Dozen
January 20 – February 26, 2012
The Quicksilver Mine Co., Forestville, CA
(707) 887-0799

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  1. Nancie Mills Pipgras

    Maureen, if you could see these in person I know you wouldn't be able to go home without one. For me, they look like you write. All kind of organic, sparkly, multi-layered – I should stop now.

  2. Nancie Mills Pipgras

    Lovely observation, Paul. Kerrigan does have a great affinity for trees, especially when they are bare.

  3. Maureen

    Love Blakeley's stunning work!

  4. Paul Anater

    Kate Kerrigan's street scenes really send me. I love an urban landscape and her ability to capture shadows makes me re-thing the whole concept of where a tree stops and a shadow starts.

Luca Barberini Bone Flowers