Art at the Grotto

The Grotto has a tradition of supporting not only Bay Area writers, but also the wider artistic community. We have lots of wall space, so why not? To that end, we’ve been honored to have several artists exhibit their work at the Grotto. Here are some of the most recent:

Exhibit and Reception: Tracey Kessler and Al Grumet

The Writers’ Grotto is pleased to announce an exhibition of paintings and mixed media works by Bay area artists Tracey Kessler and Al Grumet.  The exhibition, entitled “Random Bloomers,” will feature their latest bodies of work, as well as a collaborative series inspired by the editorial process. The reception will be November 15, 5:30-7:30.
Painting by Tracey Kessler
Painting by Tracey Kessler

In Tracey’s work, layered abstractions are born of emotion, and transformed by wind, rain and time.  She employs a diversity of media and painterly marks to explore the circumstances of life.  She works outdoors, and calls upon the elements to imbue her works with vitality and a sense of time.   Her current body of work is inspired by fruit, and captures its essence through the interplay of sumi ink, oil stick, linseed oil, beeswax and watercolors.


Painting by Al Grumet

Al’s work is a form of storytelling inspired by wandering.  He searches for fragments of poetry among the detritus of the landscape and explores the frayed tapestry of modern life.  He tells colorful stories through layers of manipulated media, sculptural space and mischievous word play.  These stories carry multiple meanings, including commentaries on the human condition, his own circumstances and the processes and materials that he uses to explore ideas.  In his current body of work, Al selects a series of photographs taken on a single day.  He weaves them into narratives that are enhanced by related found objects, scrap-bin sculptures and painted elements.

Tracey and Al each develop their work through a process of layering.  In honor of the Writer’s Grotto, they have collaborated on a new series of work that explores the relationship between writers and editors.  As part of the collaboration, Tracey and Al each take a turn as the editor of the other’s work, providing critical feedback and encouragement at various stages of the creative process.  The editorial exchange is documented and presented as part of two finished works, entitled “When I Want Your Opinion, I’ll Ask For It” and “Here, Let Me Drive.”

Tracey Kessler was born in Huntington, NY and grew up in NY, CT and NJ and currently lives and works in Mill Valley, CA.  She has exhibited at the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Pool Art Fair in New York, Art Haus and Arc Gallery in San Francisco and the O’Hanlon Center in Mill Valley, CA.  A licensed interior designer by trade with a background in commercial and residential architecture, she began painting full-time again in 2009.

Al Grumet grew up in Queens, NY and currently lives and works in Mill Valley, up the street from Tracey.  From 1996 through 2010, Al lived in Manhattan and pursued careers in law and financial services.  In 2010, Al moved with his family to Mill Valley and became a full-time artist.


Past Exhibits

TOM ERIKSON is a portrait and commercial photographer with a long history of documenting companies, families, events and music in the Bay Area. He received a degree in semiotic theory from Brown University in 1983. He posts a daily image online and has a retrospective collection at His Grotto exhibit of over 100 framed prints was his largest to date. Many of those music shots are now on loan to Open Mind Music at 2150 Market St.

SHIRLEY HAZLETT is a California artist who works in water-based media. She holds a dual BA in Art Studio and Art History and is attending the San Francisco Art Institute, where she is completing an MFA in painting. Hazlett has shown paintings at multiple venues, including the California Museum for Women, History, & the Arts, the Center for Contemporary Art, Sacramento, the Diego Rivera Gallery of the San Francisco Art Institute, and the Crocker Art Museum.

JAKUB KALOUSEK was born in 1958, in Prague, Czech Republic. He attended Graphic Arts School from 1972 to 1977 specializing in printmaking and photography. In 1978, Kalousek emigrated to the United States and in 1980, he received political asylum in San Francisco. In 1985, he received M.F.A. in printmaking from San Francisco Art Institute. Kalousek works with various printmaking techniques such as lithography, intaglio, etching to mixed media and painting.His work has been exhibited widely including San Francisco MOMA and New York MOMA. His work garnered a number of prizes and had been recipient of awards in the United States and abroad, including LEF Foundation, Rockeffeller Foundation, and Argosy Foundation. Kalousek lives and work in San Francisco, California.

LYNN RUBENZER paints dense, fantastical urban landscapes populated by scarlet monkeys, flying pterodactyls and Painted Ladies. Her cityscapes are a form of portraiture capturing the posture and emotion of urban life. Raised in Northern California, Lynn received a BA in sculpture from CA State University, Chico. She was a firefighter for the National Forestry Service and fished King Crab in Alaska before settling in San Francisco to pursue her art full-time. Awarded “Best of SF: Critics Choice” from San Francisco magazine in 2005, Lynn exhibits regularly, including most recently at Stanford University and 826 Valencia, the non-profit writing center.