Island Art: Studio Gallery 13

Island Art: Studio Gallery 13

Michael Singman-Aste

Friggatriskaidekaphobes had better master their fear, because the monthly Estuary Art Attack is going to be especially noteworthy this Friday the 13th, and no one should miss out. The rededicated Autobody Fine Art is having their first regular exhibit since closing in January 2011, and Studio 23 Gallery launches their inaugural show, “Show Me the City: Artists Renditions in the Bay Area.”

Studio 23 Gallery is run by Wesley and Jessica Warren - Wes and Jess - a couple who met in 1994 at Wes’s coffee house/art gallery in St. Petersburg, Fla. when Jess brought her paintings in and had a show there. The couple moved to Alameda from Atlanta a year ago with the intention of focusing more on their painting.

The name “Studio 23 Gallery” references their address, 2309B Encinal Avenue, a cozy spot near Park Street tucked away at the end of Revelation Cleaners' driveway, previously occupied by Brownie’s Vintage. But there’s more to it than that. “We like the number 23,” Wes Warren said, citing Discordianism’s Law of Fives which is related to the “23 enigma” at the center of Jim Carrey’s film “The Number 23,” a psychological thriller. “It’s a creepy number,” Jess Warren said.

Hoping to meet other artists, the Warrens started the “Alameda Artists” Meetup group. In less than a year, they have attracted almost 100 members from all over the Bay Area. “Show Me the City” draws from these ranks.

“This is our first show, so we wanted to be able to get as many of the artists in the group involved as possible,” Wes said. “We wanted a way for artists in our group, or just local artists, to be able to show their work in a fairly unstructured environment.”

“It could be anything that you saw that inspired you in the Bay Area to make you create a piece of art. It could be a place ... but it could also be a fish. Or a naked lady,” Jess Warren said of the theme.

The gallery is the couple’s working studio, and also hosts workshops for their Meetup group, including demonstrations by the various members of linocuts or painting with coffee, for example.

“Every artist knows how to do something interesting or different and is able to show other artists how to do it, which is really cool,” Jess Warren said.

With several other recent additions in Alameda - including Autobody Fine Art and popUp Gallery - and Chuck DiGuida’s Bridgehead Studios set to reopen shortly after an extensive remodel, is there room for another gallery in Alameda?

“There’s room for several more,” Wes Warren said. “For one thing, we want to do stuff that’s a little edgier than most of what we see in Alameda. I don’t think there’s any real criteria, except we want people who are doing interesting work, but something a little different.”

“I like people to be comfortable,” Jess Warren said, contrasting her vision with a recent visit to a gallery she found stuffy and stifling. “I see us being more eccentric rather than pretentious. We like crazy people.”

Her vision extends beyond their gallery to bridging the gap between REDUX Studios & Gallery on Lincoln Avenue and Julie’s Coffee & Tea Garden on Park Street near San Jose - including alternative venues like restaurants and other businesses - so that patrons of the arts can walk from gallery to gallery without getting back into their cars. “There’s not enough places in between,” she said.

“I think we’ll let the community - not only the community at large but the community of artists - guide what happens and how this all meshes out,” Wes Warren said. “It hasn’t completely solidified into a pure vision. It’s still kind of nebulous. But the energy’s really building.

"It hasn’t even been a year and we’ve got 100 members and a gallery, so something’s happening. I’m all about getting the community involved. And plus I like to have a good party,” he said.

The party begins at 7 p.m. Friday, September 13. Grab your rabbit’s foot and a copy of the Estuary Art Attack map from https://www.facebook.com/pages/2nd-Friday-Art-Walk/79128038802. Studio Gallery 23 is located at 2309B Encinal Avenue. art@alamedaartists.com.

Photos: 1. Jennifer King. 2. Wesley Warren, “Painting Piedmont Avenue.” 3. Jessica Warren, “Red Balloon.” 4. Wesley Warren, “Zondar.” Photos courtesy of Studio 23 Gallery.

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