Luna Rienne Gallery has curated seven-large scale paintings at the Grand Hyatt San Francisco in Union Square by local Bay Area artists David Choong Lee, Damon Soule, Mario Martinez, Reuben Rude, Erik Otto, and Ursula Xanthe Young.
These commissioned works, which will hang in the lobby, mezzanine, and 36th floor of the hotel, are a definitive collection of San Francisco painting representing a particular time and space. Each of the artists began his/her career in San Francisco in the 1990s and early 2000s, and paints in the city now. While their styles vary, they share in common a brilliant use of color, a background in mural painting and/or street art, and unique inspiration by San Francisco at the turn of the century.
Ranging in size from two 24-foot by 14-foot assemblages from David Choong Lee to two triptychs measuring 4-feet by 18-feet from Erik Otto and Ursula Xanthe Young, the artwork will be a truly bold and modern statement for visitors to Union Square. Three other paintings, each 11-feet tall by 13 to 18 feet wide, from Damon Soule, Mario Martinez, and Reuben Rude, will grace the bar and restaurant. Each piece will be the painter’s largest work of fine art to date, and become part of the Hyatt’s permanent collection alongside another local artist commission from 1973, the Ruth Asawa Fountain.
The artwork was commissioned as part of the Grand Hyatt’s recent remodel, which aims to emphasize local culture. It also coincides with the Hyatt Corporation’s sale of a Gerhard Richter painting – the most expensive piece sold by a living artist. Proceeds from that sale are being used to purchase the San Francisco collection.
David Choong Lee was born in Seoul, Korea in 1966. He moved to the United States in 1993 to pursue fine art at the Academy of Art University, where he now teaches. His unique style combines elements of graffiti, collage, graphic design, portraiture, and classical realism. A truly diverse painter, Lee's realistic portraits depict the soul and diversity of San Francisco's population, from the street people of the Tenderloin to the colorful hipsters that create the city’s nightlife. In recent years, he has shifted focus from the figure to the abstract and geometric, which he paints on recycled wine boxes. Together, they become large-scale colorful assemblages that are simply breathtaking. Lee has shown in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Portland, Tucson, Canada, England, and Korea. He has also published numerous art books. He lives South of Market with his wife.
Damon Soule was born in 1974 in Atlanta, GA but spent the majority of his childhood in New Orleans LA. In 1993, he moved to San Francisco with a packed bag of clothes, a small box of art supplies, and $300 to enroll in the Interdisciplinary Program at the San Francisco Art Institute. Simultaneously, he made a name for himself in the burgeoning local art scene, showing in galleries as well as tagging the streets. Inspired by physics, chemistry, music, and universal knowledge, his current work, which incorporates a bold use of saturation and composition, is a visual manifestation of the intellectual quandaries he explores on a regular basis. Soule has shown throughout the United States and Europe. After having moved to Portland once and New York twice, he has returned to San Francisco and currently resides downtown.
Mario Martinez was born in Boulder, CO in 1977. He began writing graffiti at the age of 13 in Fresno, CA and completed formal training at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. Initially recognized for his eerily organic robots, which graced several murals around town, Martinez’s work evolved to depict the worlds, then galaxies, from which they came. His inspirations range from the very scientific to the more esoteric phenomena; from theoretical physics, metamorphosis and collective consciousness, to extraterrestrial and otherworldly possibilities. He has shown extensively in the United States as well as in Canada, Brazil, and Portugal. He lives in the Lower Haight with his wife and two young children, Atlas and Nova.
Reuben Rude, born in 1969, is the child of hippies who met in San Francisco during the Summer of Love. He grew up in the woods of Northern California and came back to San Francisco to study at the Academy of Art. A multi-talented artist integrating a combination of painting, illustration, and collage, Rude has worked professionally as a graphic novel colorist (for which he has won a coveted Eisner Award), commercial illustrator, and fine artist. He has shown throughout the US as well as in the Philippines, and also recently completed a mural at the Bernal Heights Public Library. When he is not making art, he is working on his 100-year-old house in Mission Terrace, where he lives with his wife and two daughters.
Erik Otto has been working professionally in the arts for over 10 years. Born in Santa Clara in 1980, he earned a BFA in illustration at San Jose State University in 2005 and promptly moved to San Francisco to pursue art, where he has been living and working since. With a passion for creative exploration, he balances his time between painting and design. Often improvising with a growing list of mediums and reclaimed materials, he creates work that is both expressive and conceptual, capturing the moment where beauty meets chaos. In addition to participating in many solo and group exhibitions in art galleries throughout the country, he has created large-scale installations and murals in New York, Washington DC, Mexico City, and Honolulu. He has also completed commissions for a diversity of clients such as Microsoft, Blue Line Pizza, and Martinkovic Milford Architects. Among his local accomplishments are participation in SF Recology’s Artist-In-Residence program, the San Francisco Arts Commission’s Art In Storefronts grant, and the creation of the first art parklet at Luna Rienne Gallery. Otto currently lives, works and rides his bike in the Mission District.
Ursula Xanthe Young was born in 1974 in the green rural dales of Northern England. The daughter of an anthropologist and a professor of peace, she moved to upstate New York in her teens and began studying art. After graduating from Parsons School of Design (BFA Illustration 1996), she moved to San Francisco’s Lower Haight district and spent nearly a decade there. Following a stint in Alaska and a year exploring the world, Young has settled in Grass Valley CA, where she now lives and works. A painter, illustrator, and graphic designer, her urban fairy tale images have become a trademark of street culture in San Francisco and beyond. Her fine-lined illustrations and colorful modern paintings exude a style that is unique and appealing to art lovers of all kinds. Young’s murals can be found in San Francisco, Sacramento, and Richmond VA. Her artwork has been exhibited throughout the United States.
Luna Rienne Gallery features visual artists working in contemporary mediums who integrate elements of urban culture with traditional techniques. Formerly known as fabric8, founders Olivia Ongpin and Anthony Quintal have been working with San Francisco artists, designers, record labels, and creatives since they launched as an online boutique in 1995. Ongpin was born in San Francisco, while Quintal grew up in Los Angeles, and they attended Stanford University and UC Davis, respectively. The gallery is located at 3318 22nd Street near Valencia in San Francisco’s Mission District.