Gallerist at Home: Andres Guerrero
Andres Guerrero, current director and owner of the Guerrero Gallery in the Mission District in San Francisco, and former director/founder of White Walls, is not your typical gallery director. Glancing at both the art in his gallery and at his home makes that clear.
Andres Guerrero in his SF home. Courtesy of Randy Dodson.
Both personal and personable, Guerrero chooses art that is unique, stylized, and very current. Recent shows have included Kevin E. Taylor’s decapitated animal surrealist oils, Erin M. Riley’s (NAP #81) hyper-sexualized hand woven wool tapestries, and Cleon Peterson’s sadistic “Brinksmen” – all of which vary drastically in look and subject, but share something of the same sympatico underpinnings. At the Guerrero Gallery, there is often a rebellious spirit, but there is always the artistic talent and aesthetic drive to back it.
When describing his home collection, Guerrero clearly shares a connection to art that is both personal and pronounced. Throughout the interview, his amiable and amicable relationship to art and the artistic process is clearly the driving force at both his home and gallery. - Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor
Ellen Caldwell: Tell me about the first piece of art you ever purchased for your home.
Andres Guerrero: Well, I was dirt broke when I bought this Seen piece (not much has changed), and the piece was listed at $100 but I only had $20 to put down as a deposit. Thank goodness that my friend Jordan Viray allowed me to pay it off in payments (good looking out!). This was the first piece that I ever purchased and it being a piece from one of the most significant graffiti writers (The Godfather) in the world, it meant a great deal to me. Growing up and dabbling in graffiti myself, this was a god send. I got to meet him too and he even dedicated that piece to me, making that whole experience that much sweeter.
The piece is raw and bold, what graffiti should be. The main imagery is composed of his signature and has a little stenciled-in 6 making reference to the New York subway line that he painted frequently in the late 70's and early 80's. It's a great piece of contemporary history.
Andrew Schoultz | Illuminati Pile of Sticks, 2006, 36in x 48in, acrylic on wood. Courtesy of Randy Dodson.
EC: And what about the Schoultz piece in your kitchen…what is the story behind that painting?
AG: I bought this piece a few months after Andrew Schoultz’ (NAP #79) solo show in New York; actually, when I purchased it, I was showing his works in a two person show alongside of Greg Lamarche. I remember, eye-balling this piece when he was shipping it out to NY and for certain, I thought it would find a home immediately. Fortunately for me, it now hangs on my walls. It's one of my most cherished pieces and one of my first significant purchases.
The power and narrative that Andrew conveys through his works is hard to pass up in general but what really caught my eye on this piece was the main composition. Not only is it striking, but it also says something that really resonates with me. So much is offered up in this piece, it carries a lot of imagery that really exemplifies who and what Andrew stands for.
EC: There is another piece of work in your kitchen near your Schoultz piece – the Tamales sign. I am a sucker for off-beat signs, advertisements, and the larger category of visual culture as a whole. Could you tell me about that and how you became interested in it?
AG: Lately we've been focusing on the traditional craft of sign painting at the gallery, which has been a true highlight and such a pleasure working with all these practitioners of the craft. In one exhibition that we held earlier this year (2012), we were fortunate enough to have such a veteran and highly regarded sign painter as Gary Green from Texas. He had contributed 6 works for the show and all were in a traditional knock out style (Highly executed). He knew that he was showing in California and he knew I was Mexican, I guess my name was a dead giveaway...
With this, he made the "Tamales" piece and immediately I fell in love with it. In my eyes and in my heart, I knew I had to take it home. When I saw first saw the piece, I already knew where I was going to hang it. It really takes me back to when my family would sit together and make tamales for the holidays. It also reminds me of the small town of Watsonville where I grew up. It's just such a personal piece with a nostalgic presence.
EC: That is great. You have such a nice varied collection too. Could you describe some of your photos, such as your print by Hilary Pecis (NAP #79)?
AG: First, I want to say that I'm such a fan of Hilary and her work. We had been working together for a couple of years and I had her included in small group shows here and there. When I got this piece, we had her present a really nice tight body of work that she introduced at the gallery as a solo project. It was the first time that she had worked strictly in a digital collage format. The work was so impressive and very striking to see in this new medium. Once I saw this piece I knew I had to have it.
Everything in the piece works and runs together so smoothly, it left me with no questions. All I knew and felt was a compulsion of love towards it and I had to have it.
EC: And what about this horse photograph? There’s got to be an interesting story behind that one…
AG: I was putting together a group show that was focusing around artists/friends that really have inspired me in the past two years, mostly from the greater Bay Area. I asked Heidi Zumbrun to be part of it and she was very excited to participate, which was a true honor. Well, one day she was taking photos for her friend’s wedding (Walter), and across a field stood this beautiful horse. She immediately ran over and started to take pictures of it. All the while, the horse decides to show off a bit. Which, wasn't initially noticed. After a few shots, Heidi realized what magic she had captured. Laughing, she texted over an image of what she just captured and right there and then, we knew what image was going to be displayed for this show.
What a moment, what's not to love about all of that? Thank you, Heidi, for the best smile and laugh of the year. This piece will always be cherished!
EC: As with many of the gallerists featured in “Gallerist at Home,” it is clear that a lot of your favorite artists show up both in your home and gallery space. How do you differentiate the process of showing and displaying for a private or public audience?
AG: A lot of the works that are presented at home have a direct dialog with what is present at the gallery, but there always has to be diversity in taste. It is important for me not to limit what I purchase from where or from whom. If I love it and if I'm not broke, well then, by all means. It's one of the pleasures knowing that you are contributing and supporting and receiving something you believe in. All in all, if I like it, buying or showing, I approach the works and the artists the same.
Generally, I would love to take a piece home from every artist I work with and also would love to collect others that I don't work with. But with limited means, we only hope in time that all of that changes. It's a bad habit I like to feed, but a hard one to maintain.
Andres Guerrero grew up in the strawberry fields of Watsonville, CA, and now works and survives in the city of San Francisco. In his words, he “pretty much eats, breathes and ____ anything to do with the art world: a true love.”
The Guerrero Gallery’s current show “Summer Slam” features art by William Emmert and Thom Lessner in the front room and Jon Bocksel in the Project Room, running through August 4th. Cody Hudson’s solo show will follow from August 11th — September 1st.
Ellen C. Caldwell is an LA-based art historian, editor, and writer.