Continuing through March 19, 2016
Looking at this show of new work by long-time Bay Area artist Livia Stein gave me pause to question the sanity of whatever admonishing eyes would ever proclaim that “painting is dead.” It’s never been true, as far as I can tell, and it never will be; it certainly isn’t now. And thank all that gives me pleasure! Because when I see great painting, as I did here, I can’t get enough. That’s why I lingered, and lingered, and lingered over the works in Stein’s current show. They are just that good, that fun, that layered. Humor? Yes. Color theory, absolutely! Painterliness, as you don’t often see? Oh, yes!
To be sure there is also ceramic sculpture, mixed media on paper, carborundum prints and monotypes that display the reach of Stein’s talent. I do enjoy these other works, but I just kept coming back to her paintings and the lively brushwork that lends them strong and energetic movement. Her colors are adventurous and ambitious, mixing together dull and loud. This is so obviously a painter who owns her palette. She paints slightly gross characters who you soon love, with weird teeth but all pink about them. And you get lost in that really fun way that great paintings draw you in. You want to stay with a weird creature you’re looking at, that one with the strange teeth or big hat, but then you get drawn back into brilliant color fields or brush strokes, alive with how the painter touched down and mixed with it up with a brush. My goodness, that’s the good stuff.