The first time I visited 49 Geary I was smitten. Tucked away amid the bustling Union square area, under one roof of a large building, are many of San Francisco’s most well-known contemporary art galleries. There are 4 stories (floors 2-5) of independent galleries, with each gallery having their own focus, e.g., several show only photography. Artists featured range from emerging to internationally established.
For a special treat come to 49 Geary on the First Thursday of the month where most of the galleries are open late (usually till 7:30pm) for a special open house. You can munch on the free food – goldfish crackers, oreos, pretzels – sip wine, mingle and enjoy the art.
Since I could not find an online up-to-date list of the galleries at 49 Geary, several of which have moved in/out the past few years, I’ve compiled one here (current as of my visit yesterday, October 28, 2010).
1. Altman Siegel Gallery (Suite 416) specializes in exhibiting contemporary art.
2. Art Exchange Gallery (Suite 410) specializes in the resale of fine modern and contemporary art. Unfortunately, they are closing December 31, 2010. All remaining artwork, books and fixtures are on sale NOW.
3. Bekris Gallery (Suite 235) specializes in exhibiting work by African contemporary artists.
4. Brian Gross Fine Art Gallery specializes in exhibiting contemporary painting, sculpture, photography, and works on paper. Artists featured range from emerging talent to established modern masters.
5. Corden Potts Gallery (Suite 211) specializes in exhibiting the work of emerging contemporary photographers. This gallery is owned by two practicing photographers. It is one of the newer photography-only galleries at 49 Geary.
6. Elins Eagles-Smith Gallery (Fifth Floor) primary focus is the representation of recent work by emerging and established contemporary artists.
7. Fraenkel Gallery specializes in photography and photography related arts only. This is a very well-recognized SF gallery.
8. George Lawson Gallery focuses on the work of mid-career painters and some photographers.
9. Gregory Lind Gallery (5th floor) represents the work of contemporary artists working in a variety of media.
10. Haines Gallery (5th floor) features contemporary art from emerging and established artists. BTW: this gallery was the first in the United States to exhibit Andy Goldsworthy (1992).
11. Jack Fischer Gallery (Suite 418) specializes in contemporary art. One of the smaller galleries, but has good art.
12. Micaela Gallery (Suite 234) specializes in contemporary art. This gallery began as a small fine object boutique in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley, then got into the glass arts and today is still big with collectors of glass sculpture. Their collection now also includes drawings, paintings, modern prints, photography and video.
13. McLoughlin Gallery focuses on local emerging talent as well as established contemporary artists. With an opening on October 23, 2010, this is the newest addition to 49 Geary and it comes with an unusual background. The founder is Joan McLoughlin who for the past 20 years was a successful entrepreuner in the medical device arena in Silicon Valley. The McLoughlin Gallery is dedicated to giving back to the community, and will donate a percentage of the net sales profits to Glide Memorial and the Stanford Cancer Center.
14. Modernbook (4th floor) features modern and contemporary photographic art. This gallery shares its space with the Robert Tat Gallery.
15. Robert Koch Gallery exhibits museum quality photography. Their inventory emphasizes Modernist and experimental work from the 1920s and 1930s, 19th century and contemporary photography.
16. Robert Tat Gallery specializes in art vintage photography. This gallery shares its space with the Modernbook Gallery.
17. Scott Nichols Gallery specializes in vintage and contemporary photography.
18. Stephen Wirtz Gallery represents emerging and internationally exhibited contemporary artists. This is a very large gallery with several rooms. It is one of the most popular in the 49 Geary building.
19. Toomey Tourell Fine Art Gallery presents emerging, established and international contemporary artists.
Rare Book Stores:
Brick Row Book Shop specializes in first editions, rare books and manuscripts from the seventeenth through the twentieth century, with a strong emphasis on English and American Literature.
Children Book Gallery is an antiquarian bookshop dealing in children’s books from 1750 to 1950. They also specialize in children’s book art.
John Windle Antiquarian Bookseller (Suite 233) specializes in rare books and manuscripts from medieval times through the twentieth century. They also specialize in illustrated material, particularly the work of William Blake and his circle.