Some people hate gray skies.
They hole up in overheated living spaces, picking out doleful minor chords on guitars and thumbing through depressing poetry anthologies.
For others, their molecules get more animated. On a bicycle at noon the day after Thanksgiving, riding westward on T Street—a useful crosstown bike thoroughfare—with the bracing coolness biting face and neck, one becomes aware of context. Against the foreboding charcoal overhead, the gold and red leaves left on the trees burst forth in shattering intensities of color.
So it was for me. Turning right on 11th Street and then left on R Street, I approached that block of formerly industrial buildings turned local destinations for the arts—the Studio Theatre on the left, “The Building” and the venerable Fox & Goose on the right—and locked the bike on the railing in front of The Building.
First, a brief foray into the Fox & Goose piqued by curiosity: Could there be people chowing down on breakfast the day after our national celebration of gluttony? Why, sure. Or maybe they were merely drinking.
Inside The Building, one finds the Art Foundry Gallery on the right, with a small annex on the left in a space once occupied by a scented-oil shop. The gallery just celebrated its 10th anniversary with a retrospective featuring 42 artists; its rooms were filled with sculptures, many of them occupying floor space. Among them, just inside the door, what looked like a waist-high baptismal font resting on curving octopus arms. The piece, by Jean Van Keuren, might look perfect in a temple of Cthulhu. Certainly Lovecraft would be pleased.
Moving inside and to the left is a niche, or maybe it’s an anteroom, upon whose walls usually hang the works of Gregory Kondos. So it was on this gray day, and perhaps the absence of blue outside allowed the cerulean magnificence in Kondos’ paintings—particularly a rendering of Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay—to fill the room. That piece, along with a depiction of the Sacramento River near Crawdads—seemed like a near-perfect juxtaposition of open sky and water, with land and vegetation providing the setting for the mirroring jewels.
“We’re getting ready to swap these out for some Kondos originals in his studio upstairs,” offered Robert Anderson, the gallery employee on duty. Anderson, a bespectacled fellow in a black T-shirt and jeans, is new to Art Foundry; he left the not-exactly-booming real-estate field in Roseville and returned to the art world, starting his new job the previous week. “We’ve got an upcoming show with Alan Osborne and David Ogle, along with Kondos. Want to see his studio?”
Across the hall from the gallery’s entry is a knotty-pine stairwell straight out of Twin Peaks; it leads upstairs to a warren of studios that surround a long, open room, with artwork by the studios’ inhabitants dotting the walls. In the far back on the left is Kondos’ space, a small windowed room with a closet, with artwork stacked everywhere. “He doesn’t work here much,” Anderson said. “He’s out in the field.”
I left, stopping in the annex to view 52 pencil sketches of local poets by Suzanne Johnson, which turned out to be a flashback involving many cups of coffee among old friends. Sweet.