Studio Time with Jeremy Fish: Baywatch, San Francisco Style
After almost fifteen years living and working in the same space here in North Beach, I stumbled into one of the greatest art studios of all time. 1501 Grant Avenue was the French Italian Bakery for almost four generations, until the ovens were condemned a few years ago. It was purchased by my good friend, Pete Mrabe and his associates. Pete is a born and raised San Francisco chef, and owner of the world-famous Don Pistos and Chubby Noodles restaurants here in North Beach. These new owners have had a hard time finding anyone to lease and develop this 5500-square foot, 40 foot ceiling, three-level old bakery. Until someone is able to develop this crazy, light-filled, brick paradise, the owners have very generously let me use this big open space and storefront as my studio for the last year or so. I have produced two bodies of work in this space since I received the keys. I made a series of 24 drawings here for my first ever sold-out show last April with Mike Giant at Black Book Gallery in Denver. More recently, I created a whole San Francisco-based, fog-themed body of 26 paintings and drawings called The Fog Lovers Club for Hashimoto Contemporary. I have done some fundraising events using the "take out" window in the storefront to help direct sales and foot traffic to my neighborhood. I also hosted a massive party for my rapper friend Action Bronson's first solo art show here last spring.
An ideal studio in San Francisco is one that is either inexpensive or free, waaaaay below market value, and preferably here in North Beach, where I attended art school, and where Francis Ford Coppola, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Pablo Picasso, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and a ton of others contributed to an incredible creative neighborhood art history lesson. I have been very fortunate to have spent the last quarter-century drawing pictures for a living in these crazy, incredible studio spaces, in the shadow of these legends, in the most expensive city in the USA.
I had really high hopes that this humongous space would open me up to making a bunch of larger paintings. I prefer to sit upfront in the storefront, drawing 11" x 14" black-and-white ink drawings, my preferred medium these days. Just watching the world go by through these giant floor-to-ceiling picture windows. —Jeremy Fish