1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
415 982 3292
Since its inception, Rena Bransten Gallery, founded by Rena Bransten in 1974, has sought to define its artistic program by including both established and emerging artists whose work engages with contemporary social and cultural climates. While originally focusing on ceramic sculpture by California artists, the physical gallery space and scope of exhibitions soon expanded to include a multidisciplinary program – all the while sustaining a deep-rooted connection to the crafted object. Now, over forty years later, the gallery continues to exhibit both national and international contemporary artists in one person and thematic exhibitions which maintain a dialog with other galleries, museums, and curators.
Artists Represented:
John Bankston
Dawoud Bey
Jonathan Calm
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Dennis Gallagher Estate
Rupert Garcia
Diane Hall
Doug Hall
Matthias Hoch
Candida Höfer
Leiko Ikemura
Eirik Johnson
Bovey Lee
Hung Liu
Nathan Lynch
Robert Minervini
Vik Muniz
Tameka Jenean Norris
Sam Perry
John Preus
Robb Putnam
Amparo Sard
Nobuyuki Takahashi
Lava Thomas
Tara Tucker
Marci Washington
John Waters
Lewis Watts
Henry Wessel
Fred Wilson
Works Available By:
Ruth Asawa
Tony DeLap
Viola Frey
Ron Nagle

 

 
Installation view of These American Lives, 2016. Courtesy Rena Bransten Gallery.
Gallery Exterior. Photo Credit: John Janca
> <


 
Current Exhibitions

Eirik Johnson

EIRIK JOHNSON: PINE

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

November 3, 2018 - December 22, 2018
Rena Bransten is pleased to present EIRIK JOHNSON: PINE, an exhibition of photographs of carvings in tree trunks with an accompanying sound installation. This exhibition coincides with the release of Johnson’s monograph of the same name. The etched trees capture both the angst and magic of adolescence – affirmations of existence, band names, cherished lyrics, the passions of first love – and Johnson commemorates and alters these private, isolated moments of damage. Shot at night using long exposures and illuminated in combinations of fire, moonlight, sparklers, and prismatic light, these photographs connect the small gesture of rebellion to a time-honored tradition of mankind leaving a mark. Many of the images will be presented as lightboxes, and the installation will include original music by musicians responding to different photographs, enforcing Johnson’s relationship to his own youth and memories of cherished mixed tapes.

Into the Woods

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

November 3, 2018 - December 22, 2018

 
Past Exhibitions

Lava Thomas

Lava Thomas / Mugshot Portraits: Women of the Montgomery Bus Boycott

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

September 8, 2018 - October 27, 2018
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present our first solo exhibition by Lava Thomas. Thomas (b. Los Angeles, CA) is a Bay Area-based visual artist whose work explores the events, figures, and movements that inform and shape our individual and collective histories. Central to her practice are notions of visibility, resilience, and healing, whether the artworks memorialize victims of racial violence, transform galleries into contemplative spaces, or stretch the conventions of portraiture and representation. Thomas is a multi-disciplinary artist and master draftsman whose oeuvre includes photography, costume design, painting, large-scale installations, and sculpture. She has for the past two years been focused on the under-acknowledged role of African American women in the Civil Rights Movement. This exhibition centers around a new series of graphite and conté pencil portraits based on mugshots of the women of the 1955 yearlong Montgomery Bus Boycott, illuminating and emphasizing the leadership and sustained labor of women to the boycott’s success. While mugshots intrinsically aim to dehumanize and criminalize, Thomas’ life size, richly detailed portraits offer a counter narrative. Leigh Raiford, photo historian and associate professor of African American Studies at UC Berkeley, and essayist for the accompanying exhibition catalog, notes: “We might start with the striking visibility of Thomas’ fine line work—intentional, deliberate—which renders these women as highly regarded sitters rather than mechanically-reproduced subjects of the state. The purposeful clarity of each hair, each coat thread, each worry line, functions here as a steady etching of history that needs to be carefully attended to. Further exceeding her source material, Thomas has accentuated eyes and hands, underscored a smirk or a side eye. The large-scale portraits, many times the size of a mugshot, are meant to be displayed so that our eyes look directly into theirs, a demand for mutual recognition.” Thomas acknowledges the egalitarian nature of graphite and conté pencil with this new series. The accessibility of the pencil is paired in this exhibition with a corollary body of work based on the tambourine, an intuitive instrument rooted in cultures around the globe and associated with gospel music, freedom songs of the Civil Rights Movement, protests, and marches. This exhibition is in dialogue with the current political and social climate of the country: the resurgence of white nationalism, the rise of racial hostility and lethal violence, the ascent of white male supremacy in the Executive Branch of government, and the methodical erosion of hard won Civil Rights laws and protections by the current administration. Lava Thomas’ work has been exhibited at the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco; the International Print Center New York; the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco; the Bolder Museum of Contemporary Art, Colorado; the California African American Museum, Los Angeles; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; and the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art, Napa, California, among many other venues. Her work is in the permanent collections of the United States Consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; the de Young Museum, San Francisco; and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. She studied at UCLA’s School of Art Practice and received a BFA from California College of the Arts. *A catalog with essay by Leigh Raiford will accompany the exhibition*

The Portrait Show

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

June 23, 2018 - August 18, 2018
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present "The Portrait Show," a group exhibition exploring portraiture from traditional to non-traditional approaches in a range of media including photography, painting, sculpture, and works on paper. This exhibition will include works by Robert Arneson, John Bankston, Dawoud Bey, Jonathan Calm, Rupert Garcia, Jennifer Greenburg, Leiko Ikemura, Oliver Lee Jackson, Eirik Johnson, Bovey Lee, David Linger, Hung Liu, Martin Mull, Tameka Jenean Norris, Raymond Pettibon, Naaman Rosen, Thomas Ruff, Peter Saul, Tracey Snelling, Lava Thomas, Tara Tucker, John Waters and Henry Wessel, among others. This diverse grouping of works spans the humorous to the somber, nodding to the rich history of the portrait while aiming to expand its boundaries. Several works in the exhibition challenge the notion that a portrait should feature a face or figure. Naaman Rosen’s "Letters: A Portrait of a Family" consists of scanned letters sent from his mother, the words “Love You” stretched across a lined note pad in one, news of his brother’s imprisonment in another. Tameka Jenean Norris’ "Office Hours" is a photograph of a cup of tea and an art history book, the artists’ toes barely visible at the edge of the frame. Bovey Lee’s cut paper work "Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker" is a photo transfer of the artist’s own immigration paper work, incised with sea imagery. Some artists in the exhibition use themselves as subject, but not always in the vain of self-portraiture. Jennifer Greenburg works with vernacular found photographs, but replaces the subject with herself, blending cultural narratives with the personal. Jonathan Calm uses his own body in "Double Vision: (Recording I)," but the work expands beyond the self-portrait: his vulnerable figure lies on the pavement, a camera lens in his mouth recording footage of police brutality against black bodies. Complimenting these non-traditional approaches are more traditional portraits. In some, artists render other artists in what feel like gestures of mutual admiration – Robert Arneson of Viola Frey, Rupert Garcia of Picasso, and Henry Wessel of Dennis Gallagher. In others, the artist looks directly at his subject, as in Dawoud Bey’s close-up portrait "Girl with a Knife Nose Pin," or directly at themselves, as in Thomas Ruff’s "Self Portrait."

Doug Hall

Song of Ourselves (After Walt Whitman)

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

May 5, 2018 - June 16, 2018
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present Song of Ourselves (After Walt Whitman), a two-channel site-specific video installation by Doug Hall, designed in collaboration with the architectural team modem. The installation situates a video of high school students reciting Whitman’s text with a projection that washes across the gallery walls of slow motion, black and white video of people moving through public spaces. Song of Ourselves brings forth the positive spirit that resides within Whitman’s words, and is Hall’s proposal that a humanist tradition can provide an antidote to the venom seeping into the American conscience following the 2016 election.

David Linger

The Sea Within / O Mar Adentro

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

May 5, 2018 - June 16, 2018
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present David Linger: The Sea Within | O Mar Adentro, a collection of black and white photographs of beach scenes printed on translucent porcelain panels. Taken at two places dear to Linger’s heart, Ocean Beach in San Francisco and Ipanema in Rio de Janeiro, these photographs are an elegy to the sea and its visitors. Linger is a careful and intense documentarian of people and their relationship to the sea. His subjects are groups, pairs, or solitary figures entrenched in intimate moments, joyous celebrations, or lost in contemplation. His images are at once familiar and atmospheric and bring the democratic nature of the beach to the fore.

Oliver Lee Jackson

Oliver Lee Jackson: Someplace Else

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

March 3, 2018 - April 28, 2018
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition from celebrated artist Oliver Lee Jackson. The exhibition will include paintings and drawings that excite, mystify and charm with their technical virtuosity and sheer physicality, as they invite the viewer to travel to another realm. Image: No. 1, 2017 (3.13.17)

Rupert Garcia

Rupert Garcia: Rolling Thunder

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

January 6, 2018 - February 24, 2018
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present Rupert Garcia: Rolling Thunder, an exhibition of paintings and prints by renowned Bay Area based American artist Rupert Garcia. Since the late sixties, Garcia has been committed to creating artwork addressing urgent issues of our time, voicing concerns over the desperate consequences of social and political injustice and deceit, as well as raising questions about the pretenses of aesthetic conventions. In strikingly bold graphics, often coopting the mechanics of pop art and culture, his recent work elaborates on his political concerns, and challenges notions of folk and high art. Image: Rupert Garcia: Rolling Thunder, 2017, mixed media on paper Rolling Thunder, a survey of five decades of work, exposes his continual use of war imagery and suggests the impact of Mr. Garcia’s service in the Vietnam War and direct involvement in a secret US military bombing campaign known as Operation Rolling Thunder. This is the first time Mr. Garcia’s work has been assembled to specifically illuminate the impact of his participation in the Vietnam War, and the first time Mr. Garcia has publicly acknowledged his participation in Operation Rolling Thunder.

Candida Höfer

Candida Höfer: Spaces and Places

1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

November 4, 2017 - December 22, 2017
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to announce Spaces and Places, a solo exhibition by German photographer Candida Höfer. Best known for her large-scale color photographs of grand interior spaces and libraries, this exhibition engages Höfer’s signature images in a new way by pairing them with smaller, often abstracted works focused on individual details and arrangements suggestive of mise en scènes. The juxtaposition of the large to the small, the grand to the prosaic, invites the viewer to explore Höfer’s practice and consider the expansive interiors as a collection of small moments and event remnants.