Exhibition "I'll Bet You Can't Paint a Portrait: The Genesis of Bay Area Figurative Art Now" at Art Space 712, San Francisco

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Exhibition juried by Theophilus Brown features contemporary portrait painting inspired in the tradition of Bay Area Figurative art by twelve artists, selected by legendary painter Theophilus Brown from a field of more than 100 artists who submitted entries. $20,000 in cash awards will be announced at the Opening Reception on Fri., September 25.

Paintings by twelve California artists have been selected by juror Theophilus Brown for the exhibition "I'll Bet You Can't Paint a Portrait: The Genesis of Bay Area Figurative Art Now", to inaugurate the exhibition program of Art Space 712, San Francisco. Awards totaling $20,000.00 will be announced at the Opening Reception.

Artists selected for the exhibition are: Jeff Bellerose, Lin Fischer, John Goodman, Randy Kirksey, Barbara Lawrence, William McElhiney, Tom Mogensen, David Molesky, Kevin Moore, Ursula O'Farrell, Shilo Randall-Ratner, and Gary Ruddell.

"I'll Bet You Can't Paint a Portrait: The Genesis of Bay Area Figurative Art Now" opens with an artists' reception on Friday, September 25, from 6pm to 10pm, featuring refreshments and live entertainment; a suggested voluntary donation will benefit ArtSpan/SF Open Studios. The exhibition continues Saturday and Sunday, September 26-27, 2009, 12 noon to 5pm, at Art Space 712, 712 Sansome Street, 2nd Floor (between Pacific St. and Jackson St.), San Francisco. For more information, call 415.421.9500, or visit http://www.artspace712.com.

Artists were invited to submit recent portrait paintings that reflect the enduring influence of what became known in the 1960s as Bay Area Figurative art. Juror Theophilus Brown reviewed more than 200 works by approximately 100 artists, and selected twenty works by 12 artists for the exhibition. Each participating artist receives a $1,000 honorarium; in addition, three exceptional works will be singled out for awards of $3,000, $5,000 and $12,000. Award winners will be announced at the opening reception on Friday, September 25.

The jurying process was highly competitive, and afterwards Brown said, "I greatly regret not being able to take more work. There were many more artists whose work I would love to have included, but there was just not enough space and resources. The artists who were not selected should not be disheartened, there was just an excess of great work."

William Gilmartin of Art Space 712 initiated the idea for this exhibition on hearing a story told by Theophilus Brown, over lunch with his friends and associates Matt Gonzalez and Anthony Torres, recalling a rhetorical dare posed by painter David Park as a challenge to Richard Diebenkorn: "I'll bet you can't paint a portrait." The challenge gave rise to painterly excursions that came to be known in the 1960s as Bay Area Figurative art.

Gilmartin conceived this project as a pro-artist competition, putting the interests and needs of the artists first, eliminating entry fees, not requiring gallery commissions on sales, providing awards to selected artists, and bringing their works to the attention of a wider audience, including collectors.

"The response to this 'dare' far exceeded my expectations, both in the number of artists and the quality of the paintings submitted," says Gilmartin. "We may be on the verge of resurrecting an important Bay Area figurative art tradition by identifying a group of artists who are continuing to translate and work within that tradition."

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