During the month of September, Rena Bransten Gallery will present works by Dennis Gallagher. The exhibition will show a wide range of pieces including ceramic sculptures, benches, plates, small constructions, still-life arrangements, and works on paper. Whether referential or functional, the selected pieces demonstrate Gallagher's long interest in the conversion of his ideas to physical, geometric forms and then of pushing those forms into abstractions. From there he might, paradoxically, arrange abstracted elements to suggest contemporary household objects, tools, furniture, or figures, coming full circle from the original sources that inspired him -- construction zones, freeway sites, and architectural ruins. His process often began with large charcoal or pastel sketches of heavy lines that became arches, bridges, or porticos, that then moved on to ceramic maquettes of simple hand built architectural shapes. Glaze tests on any of the smaller forms might later become the impetus for larger works - expansion or contraction providing new avenues for exploration.
In Gallagher's sculptures, rectangles, squares, slabs, spheres, and columns - precariously stacked or balanced - have a vigorous verticality and dynamic tension at odds with the density and earthward pull of the ceramic medium. Surfaces are intentionally pitted, scored, and gouged by tool or by hand creating a visual record of decisions made and then adjusted. Incised lines lead viewers' eyes from block to block, around corners, to a satisfying conclusion: a surprising sense of movement and elegance complimented by monochromatic glazes.
Gallagher was born in 1952, in San Bruno, CA and received his BA and MFA from Fresno State. He taught at both the California College of Arts and Crafts and the San Francisco Art Institute and completed commissions in both the private and public sectors of the Bay Area and the Napa Valley, including a large-scale public installation at Juniper Networks in Sunnyvale, California. His works are included in the collection of The Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, The Fresno Art Museum, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, The San Jose Museum of Art, The Rene di Rosa Preserve, Napa, The Runnymede Sculpture Park, Woodside, and The Oakland Museum of California Sculpture Court. Mr. Gallagher passed away earlier this year on his birthday.