San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art
Auction Curator Picks

Our fourth issue of Auction Curator Picks features artists who are in the Silent Auction and Live Auction. The Silent Auction and party is on Saturday, October 11 from 6-9pm with the first lot closing at 7:15pm. Visit our website for more details or download our Auction FAQ sheet if you have questions.

Mitchell Johnson
Verona, 2012
Gouache on paper
9 x 12"
Courtesy of the Artist

Mitchell Johnson is best known for his distinctive landscapes of California and Europe. For 30 years, he has worked in two distinct styles - one abstract and one representational. As is evident in Verona, he is primarily interested in color and shape and how paintings are put together. While Verona is representational in style, Johnson's depiction of this quaint cityscape as seen through a window frame, is made up entirely of geometric shapes of flat color that could just as easily be translated into a geometric abstraction of the scene.


In a conversation with art historian Peter Selz, Johnson states, "The representational paintings that I make are very shape and color driven, which is the same as my abstract paintings. They too, are very much about shape and color. So, I don't feel a great leap between the two ways of working and I don't feel that there is a stylistic message that prevents me from moving back and forth."


Johnson originally studied painting and drawing at Randolph-Macon College in Virginia and went on to earn his MFA at Parsons School of Design where he studied with Larry Rivers, Leland Bell, and Paul Resicka, all former students of Hans Hofmann. During graduate school, Johnson supported himself doing odd jobs for various New York artists, most notably Frank Stella, Sol LeWitt, Sandy Skoglund and Stella's assistant, Earl Childress. In the fall of 1990, while waiting to hear if he would be able to join LeWitt's wall drawing team, Johnson was offered a studio assistant job with Sam Francis and he moved to Palo Alto. Since then, he has divided his time between California and his favorite European painting locations in Italy, France and Denmark.


His paintings can be found in numerous public collections including the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the New Mexico Museum of Art, as well as hundreds of private collections throughout the world. He has had solo exhibitions in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, OR, New York, NY, Oakland, Washington, DC, Kansas City, MO, and Palo Alto. He maintains a studio in Palo Alto and lives in Menlo Park. - CK


View a larger image of Mitchell Johnson's Verona, which is in the Silent Auction, here and listen to his audio recording about this piece.

Ann Hogle 

Out the Window, 2014 
Oil on Canvas 
40 x 30" 
Courtesy of the Artist        


Ann Hogle was born in San Francisco in 1927 and, like many artists of her generation, she began as an abstract expressionist. Later influenced by the Bay Area Figurative Movement, she became a painter of nudes. However, when she was ordered to remove six large canvases of nude women from her solo exhibition at Stanford University in 1966 because they were considered "offensive" by the Stanford administration, she turned away from the nude female figure. After a transitional period, she painted her first landscape in 1976 and has never turned back.


Her large-scale images of light, earth, sky and water project a vivid impression of the California countryside. Her paintings have been characterized by a simplicity and directness that is accomplished through a combination of representation and abstraction. However, Out the Window, painted this year, represents a departure from her characteristically flattened panoramic vistas of recognizable California scenery. Here, the loose, impressionistic brushwork now obscures the representational elements. The scene is undoubtedly a landscape, but one that is not entirely discernible. This fresh, new canvas clearly reveals that Hogle's art is as much about the process of painting - form, colors, surfaces and composition - as it is about the land.


What excites me about this painting is to see Hogle's increasingly imaginative range. At 87 years old, this distinguished and established artist continues to evolve, experiment and innovate. She works in her studio everyday, often in the company of her daughter, Kit Coleman, whose work is also featured in the auction. They revel in the exquisite scenery that surrounds their Portola Hills studio and take great joy in capturing its essence through their paintings. - CK

View a larger image of Ann Hogle's Out the Window, which is in the Live Auction, here and listen to her audio recording about this piece.  

Samantha Fields
Fairfax, Los Angeles, 2012  
Acrylic on paper
15 x 11"
Courtesy of the Artist and Traywick Contemporary, Berkeley 


The first photographic airbrush used to colorize photos was patented in 1876. Throughout history, airbrush techniques have been associated with altering photos, from the Great Purge in 20th century Soviet Union when people were erased from pictures after they fell out of Joseph Stalin's favor, to the popular method of doctoring undesired body "imperfections" in glamour shots for fashion magazines. With today's technology, the average Photoshop user may achieve airbrush effects when retouching digital images.


Without the use of a computer or dark room manipulation, Samantha Fields uses an airbrush to create intense ethereal atmospheres in her dream-like paintings on paper. The imagery is based on photographs she took capturing light and weather phenomenon.


The paintings reflect single instances of luminous energy. Set within a silent nocturnal landscape, Field also captures the surrounding, reflective mood, seizing a moment in time that triggers memories. To view Fairfax, Los Angeles is like peering through a misty window at car and street lights faintly illuminating hints of the landscape and architecture. In her other works, a scene portrays twinkling sparks as they taper off after a firework explosion, and another depicts forest trees softly being revealed through a blanket of fog.


The work is best summarized in the press release from her first Bay Area solo show at Traywick Contemporary earlier this year, "By focusing on representations of memory, enigmatic and unfixed, Fields expressively captures the energy and emotion of a fleeting moment."


Fields is a recipient of the prestigious City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Fellowship. Her work has been exhibited in several Los Angeles galleries including Western Projects, Post, and Solway Jones and in New York at Lightbox Gallery. Publications that have reviewed her work include San Francisco Arts Quarterly, Art in America, Los Angeles Times, Beautiful Decay, Artillery, and Art ltd. Fields earned a BFA from The Cleveland Institute of Art, Ohio, and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. - DN 


View a larger image of Samantha Fields' Fairfax, Los Angeles, which is in the Silent Auction, here and listen to her audio recording about this piece. 

Tamara Danoyan
#8 from the series The Way of the Circle,
20 x 13.33"
Courtesy of the Artist


Bay Area-based artist Tamara Danoyan has a keen visual sensibility and her stunning photographs in the recent series The Way of the Circle challenge the notion of real and imagined dimensionality within physical spaces.


Danoyan favors the 300mm telephoto zoom lens for shooting extreme close-ups of industrial objects, making them appear otherworldly. She carefully observes how a stream of natural light radiates off weathered surfaces and how shadows are cast on shaped curves and holes. The round hole is often seen in this series of work, creating the likeness to a portal beckoning the viewer to enter into an alternate universe. Her experimentation with the circle is a reference to ensō, the expressive hand-drawn circle symbolizing absolute enlightenment in Zen Buddhism.


Danoyan earned her bachelor's degree in Russian Language and Literature from Yerevan State University in Armenia. After experiencing a strong need for visual self-expression, she eventually came to study photography and enrolled in a black and white photography class at Foothill College in 2005, which became the turning point in her pursuits. She went on to study at the Australian Centre for Photography in Sydney, and is currently enrolled in San Jose State University's Master of Fine Arts photography program.


Danoyan has exhibited her work at Metenkov Photography Museum in Ekaterinburg, Russia; Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado; Stanford Art Spaces, Stanford University; Adobe Art Gallery in Castro Valley; and Modernbook Gallery in Palo Alto. Her work was recently included in the juried exhibition EXPAND: Annual New Generations Student Showcase at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Danoyan currently lives in Mountain View.

View a larger image of Tamara Danoyan's #8, which is in the Silent Auction, here.    
34th Annual Art Exhibition and Auction Events

Silent Auction and Party: October 11, 6pm-9pm, 1st lot closes at 7:15pm. Free.
Live Auction Gala: October 25. Doors open at 6pm.
Curator led tours: October 7, 14, and 21, 11:30am and 2:00pm.
No reservations required! Free.

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