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Gallery row grows on Grant Avenue.

Gallery row grows on Grant Avenue

It's no secret that many excellent art galleries are scattered throughout San Francisco. Yet what might come as a surprise is the number of galleries now clustered conveniently along lower Grant Avenue.

The soft office-rental market has opened up premium space for galleries along this stretch between Market Street and the Chinatown gate, luring some from the South of Market area. Five years ago, only a dozen or so galleries had addresses along these blocks; now there are 28, with more expected.

This coalescence into a bona fide gallery row means gallerygoers will spend less time looking for a place to park and more time enjoying the art--if they know where to look. Those intent on shopping could easily overlook most of these galleries; only two are located at street level. Many are marked only by a discreet plaque or as an entry in a foyer's directory. But despite their shrinking violet act, all are open to passers-by.

Strolling from gallery to gallery, you'll see a wide array of first-rate art. Since San Francisco lacks a museum devoted exclusively to contemporary art, these galleries provide an easy way to see work on the cutting edge.

Admittedly, entering an unfamiliar gallery surrounded by art that might cost as much as your car can be intimidating. But most owners encourage visits from non-collectors. Even if you don't plan to buy, feel free to ask for a biography of a featured artist or a price list that gives titles of displayed works and the materials used. Many galleries also have a storeroom off the main exhibition space where you'll find art for upcoming shows, as well as unsold works from past shows.

From 11 to 5 on Saturday, February 13, Union Square-area members of the San Francisco Art Dealers Association will present ARTwalk, a district-wide open house. It's a good opportunity to get acquainted with the participating galleries in a relaxed atmosphere. Many artists will be on hand to give talks and answer questions. Refreshments will be served.

Special-interest galleries and hours

Most galleries show contemporary American painting and sculpture, with an emphasis on West Coast artists. If your tastes run to more time-honored work, try Carlson, specializing in late 18th- and early 19th-century California artists. Starting March 1 at a new address on Sutter Street, Montgomery will exhibit American and European painting and sculpture from between 1860 and 1920.

Two galleries, Fraenkel and Robert Koch, exhibit only photography. Dorothy Weiss focuses on ceramic art, a medium that's flourishing in the Bay Area. And at Moss you'll find the sophisticated work of contemporary Latin American artists.

Most galleries are open from 10:30 to 5 Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Street parking is limited; try one of the nearby city-owned garages; both cost less than $1 an hour. The Ellis-O'Farrell Garage has entrances between Stockton and Powell Streets; the Sutter-Stockton Garage is entered from Stockton or Bush.

Photo: Showing paintings from past and future shows, gallery owner Jeremy Stone takes visitor through storeroom

Photo: On or near Grant Avenue, 28 galleries show a wide array of art

Photo: Tribal grave post from Madagascar presides over Grant from inside James Willis Gallery

Photo: Look for banner marking galleries participating in ARTwalk open house on Saturday, February 13

Photo: Monumental silhouettes by Seattle sculptor Howard Kottler make faces in Rena Bransten's light-filled gallery

Photo: Striped porcelain jars at Dorothy Weiss Gallery were thrown by Rosalind DeLisle

Photo: Assemblage takes shape between shows at Iannetti-Lanzone Gallery, a new addition at northern end of growing gallery row
COPYRIGHT 1988 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:San Francisco
Date:Feb 1, 1988
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