Category Archives: Bay Area Artists

Susan O’Malley (American 1976-2015)

Susan O’Malley’s work is a celebration of life and a cheerful affirmation that we are on the right path.  Having passed away suddenly, this Bay Area Artist and Curator will be remembered as a voice of wisdom and ernest encouragement. She received her MFA from California College of Arts in San Francisco in Art and Social Practice and through whimsical performances, conversations, and text with bright gradients of color she conveyed a message of hope and trust in ones self.

Click on the circle to see full images.

O’Malley created an art project called Pep Talks, where she counseled others on how to keep a positive attitude and not give up. Her work is a reminder that things will get better and that there is beauty and meaning in the world.


Below is O’Malley’s work: “An Unsolicited Open Letter to the Young-ish Artist (this means all of us, right?).” May 29, 2013.

Dear Young-ish artist, I noticed that you needed to be reminded of a few things – many of which I’m sure you already know. But it doesn’t hurt to be reminded. So here it goes.

Taking the path of an artist is a radical one. There is no steady paycheck, 401K or linear trajectory. You do it because it’s either art or insanity; or because you have a gift that needs to be shared with the world; or because you want to be famous. But here’s the deal: it takes time to cultivate it. Very few of us can jump out of undergrad and earn a living as a novelist. Sometimes you have to take a job writing copy at an internet company to prove that you can take care of yourself; or you have to take several jobs so you can buy the materials for your giant octopus sculpture; or you have to experience the darkest grief of your life in order to find your voice. And there will be lots of bad poems and terrible paintings and bad decisions before anything comes of it. It takes time and it takes space and sometimes it takes doing very little alone or in the company of other like-minded people for these things to happen. Everything is part of it. So be patient, pay attention, and be kind to yourself.

Maybe it will take 15 years, so in the year 2028, when you quit your day job writing ad copy for Hologram Space to begin. Maybe then you’ll decide to finish the novel you’ve been plugging away at in your free evenings. You decide to do it because it’s been nagging at you for years, sometimes making you feel so empty inside that you don’t recognize yourself, your spouse, or your children. And as you finally jump into this adventure it dawns on you: it’s always been here. You’ve always had everything you needed to do it. It just took you this long to accept this and the uncertainty of the process. And, now finally, you’ve said yes and things are happening. Don’t scold yourself for taking so long, just appreciate that you’ve finally made it here.

Sincerely, Your friend Susan O’Malley,



Since her tragic passing this year her work has taken on extra meaning.  The messages seem to come from a place beyond time, yet fully human and brimming with love and understanding. Susan O’Malley’s work will be remembered as courageous, joyful and inspiring.


Her book entitled “Advice From My 80 Year Old Self,” is being published and is due to release this year. The book serves to point out how perspective in life can be a gift in helping us get through the hard times.


During her life Susan O’Malley participated in an artist residency at Montalvo Arts Center, a retreat in the mountains of the peninsula. Here she created a healing walk for the benefit of all and to complete this walk seems like a great way to pay tribute to her contribution and experience her message to the world.


Mario Martinez (American 1977)

Mars-1 at Work
Mars-1 at work on Afterthought

Artist Mario Martinez, who also goes by Mars-1,  was born in Boulder, Colorado and grew up in Fresno, California where he was inspired by graffiti art, comics, and science fiction. Through his visual art, murals and sculptures he creates worlds of material and etheric atmosphere in complex acrylic paintings swirling with colorful geometric forms and strangely familiar organic shapes. His paintings depict visions of transcendent and universal subjects like worm holes, nuclear physics and celestial phantoms. Martinez often collaborates with other artists such as Alex Grey, Brendan Monroe and Doze.  Guests of the Symbiosis Gathering at Pyramid Lake were able to watch a collaboration take place between Mario Martinez, David Choong Lee, Damon Soule, and Oliver Vernon.

Check out Mars-1’s website to see more of his work:

Acrylic on linen
84 x 108 inches
Strange Cargo, 2008




Mario Martinez (Mars-1) x Brendan Monroe Acrylic on paper, 2012.
Mario Martinez (Mars-1) x Brendan Monroe
Acrylic on paper, 2012.
Bicycle Day  Collaboration with Alex Grey San Francisco April 20, 2012
Bicycle Day
Collaboration with Alex Grey
San Francisco
April 20, 2012


Mario Martinez Photo by Mairead O'Connor
Mario Martinez
Photo by
Mairead O’Connor




Skinner is a California Artist from Sacramento. He has been very successful with commercial art including toys and other merchandise. His art has been featured on record covers and band posters, including the stage decoration for last year’s “Outside Lands Concert” in Golden Gate Park.


Outside Lands 2011
White Walls Gallery
White Walls Gallery


Battle Under a False God
Primus Poster


Fear You May Know


I need to get a quote from Mr. Skinner


Check out his website at:



Leslie Shows


The Sky Becomes Sediment 2008

Leslie Shows is a local Bay Area artist whose paintings have titles like ” The Arrangement of Salts and Metals by Properties,” where she succeeds in melding elemental natural tones with moody pychedelic lightning and rainbow crystals.  The vibrant colors and the explosive use of paint in Leslie Shows work, balanced with the subtle greys and stone.  Her paintings reunite the rift between science and art by utilizing color and form to explain what is happening in our real world sometimes on such a grand scale that we are usually unable to notice.  The first image is detail of her painting called “The Nitrogen Cycle.” She magically displays working concepts on thge working of our physical world by combining elements to create something as basic as the air we breathe. Everything is located on a grand Geologic Time Scale which surpasses our normal experience of the world by millions of years and can destroy our reality with one shift.

I especially love the displays of lightening in her art. She is using the paint as a medium often without use of a brush to create gradients and layers like the sedimentary layers of the earth.  There are many textures created by metals and remnants of the manufacturing process being scratched through the painted surface. The fractal physics of liquid dynamics is visible on a smaller scale.

Here is a brillant installation which suits her work on a grand scale at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. She brings a timeless element to a world that is always changing and we are just a passing moment in it.



Leslie Shows from

Julia Morgan (American 1872 – 1957)

Julia Morgan

Julia Morgan was one of the first women to graduate from University of California at Berkeley with a degree in civil engineering, the first to graduate with an architecture degree at the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the first woman to work as a professional architect in California. During her 45-year career, she designed more than 700 homes, churches, office buildings, hospitals, stores, and educational buildings, including the famous Hearst Castle.

The pool at Berkeley City Club
Hearst Castle Interior Swimming Pool
The Neptune Pool - Hearst Castle

I especially love the pools she designed with blue mosaic and sometimes gold glass inlaid.  She also designed Hearst’s Summer House in N. California called Wyntoon, right on the river.

Drawing of Wyntoon
Exterior Murals - Wyntoon

Several other places she designed include Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, Redo of the Fairmont Hotel in SF after the Earthquake and YWCA’s in Oakland, Utah and Hawaii.

Chapel of the Chimes
Hearst Castle
Julia Morgan at Hearst Castle

Julia Morgan Quotes:

“Never turn down a job because you think it’s too small; you don’t know where it can lead.”

“Architecture is a visual art, and the buildings speak for themselves.”

“My buildings will be my legacy… they will speak for me long after I’m gone.”

Read more:

Wayne Thiebaud (American 1920 – Present)

Wayne Thiebaud was born in Arizona but moved to Los Angeles at a young age. Eventually he came to Northern California, studied more art and became a teacher at UC, Davis. I love his San Francisco Hillside Landscapes. It looks just like Pacific Heights!

Watermelon Slices

35Cent Masterworks

Great Wayne Thiebaud Quotes:

  • “A conscious decision to eliminate certain details and include selective bits of personal experiences or perceptual nuances, gives the painting more of a multi-dimension than when it is done directly as a visual recording. This results in a kind of abstraction… and thus avoids the pitfalls of mere decoration.”
  • “Art means something very rare, an extraordinary achievement.”
  • “An artist needs the best studio instruction, the most rigorous demands, and the toughest criticism in order to tune up his sensibilities.”
  • “Commonplace objects are constantly changing… The pies, for example, we now see, are not going to be around forever. We are merely used to the idea that things do not change.”
  • “If I don’t have anything better to do that day, I’ll copy paintings, generally by people who have some relationship to the work of the moment.”
  • “We all need critical confrontation of the fullest and most extreme kind that we can get. You can unnecessarily limit yourself by choosing your criticism”
  • “an artist has to train his responses more than other people do. He has to be as disciplined as a mathematician. Discipline is not a restriction but an aid to freedom. It prepares an artist to choose his own limitations…”
  • “The figures… are not supposed to reveal anything… It’s like seeing a stranger in some place like an air terminal for the first time. You look at him, you notice his shoes, his suit, the pin in his lapel, but you don’t have any particular feeling about him.”

Jay DeFeo (American 1929-1989)

Jay DeFeo is a painter and photographer who lived in San Francisco during the Beat Generation. She is known for her painting “The Rose.” It is a large canvas that weights, over 1 ton!  Its 8 x 11 feet and over 3,000 lbs. She worked on her masterpiece for 8 years from 1958 to 1966. The sculptural nature of her paintings and the very minimal color palette, shows that she studied South Asian Art, especially the stone sculptures of Gandhara. This crossroads area of land in the Indus Valley, now Northern Pakistan and Eastern Afganistan saw many influences including Vedic, Greek and Buddhist Culture.

The Rose

Untitled (Florence)
Songs of Innocence

Henrietta Shore (Canadian 1880-1963)

Henrietta Shore was born in Toronto in 1880. Inspired to follow the path of an artist she found herself in New York where she studied at Art Students League with William Merritt Chase and Robert Henri and fellow student Georgia O’Keeffe.

Henrietta Shore 1880-1963 Edward Weston ca. 1927 Collection Center for Creative Photography
Henrietta Shore
Edward Weston
ca. 1927
Collection Center for Creative Photography

I first saw her work in the Santa Cruz Downtown Post Office. These 6 murals are agricultural depictions of life on the California Coast.



Point Sur Lighthouse 1930-35 Oil on Canvas 26 x 26″

Henrietta Shore exhibited her artwork with  O’Keefe in New York and befriended Photographer Edward Weston in California. She also travelled to Mexico where she painted portraits of  Jose Clemente Orozco and Jean Charlot.  She worked in a modernist style that focused more on the idea of the painting rather than representing it traditionally.

Portrait of Muralist Orozco
Portrait of Muralist Orozco