Artist Leah Giberson lives in Boston. She’s only visited Bernal Heights once, but she developed an instant affinity for our neighborhood — an affinity that she’s now translated into a pair of paintings about local homes.
In a note to Bernalwood, Leah writes:
I have lived the majority of my life in New England and until last summer, had only been to San Francisco once (as a teenager), but have always felt drawn to the light and color of California in general and San Francisco more specifically. When I went out this past July for my show at Rare Device, it was a pitifully short trip but I made the most of every second. I oohed and ahhed my way through the two days and three nights, feeling like I had stepped into a Diebenkorn painting – or in some cases like I had stepped into one of my own paintings!
On my second and last full day, I hiked up and down hills all day from 9 to 5 and lucked into a sunny break in the clouds just as I arrived at Bernal Heights. I fell in love immediately with the neighborhood, the architecture, the restaurants and the crazy dramatic views.
As an artist I am most intrigued by scenes that seem ordinary at first glance, but hide more complicated stories that I imagine must exist for all of us. In my paintings I try to unearth these other truths by turning down the volume on anything that feels distracting so I can pay attention to the second stories that whisper in reflections, open windows, awkward architectural angles and looming shadows.
The homes in Bernal Heights didn’t exactly look “ordinary” to my East Coast eyes, but what struck me was their relationship to the ground below. For many of us outside of San Francisco, the ground is something that we usually think of as a steady (often pretty flat) supportive surface beneath us. On these steep slopes with fault lines lurking nearby, the modestly sized homes of Bernal Heights appeared (to me) to be holding on tight to the edge of the world, grabbing on to power lines above and looking straight ahead so as not to lose their footing – determined to carry on as if this was a perfectly ordinary place for a home.
Fabulous! I say we make Leah an honorary Bernalwood resident in abstentia.
Meanwhile, if you want to own some of her limited-edition Bernal Heights artwork, it’s available at a very fair price via Etsy.