While San Francisco was awash with visitors for Fleet Week and Blue Grass music festival activities, one of North Beach's best art galleries closed its doors.
"We were one of the few venues the sought out classically trained artists," said owner Geraldine (Pruett) Arata. October 6 was the last day of business for Arata Gallery.
Geraldine Arata said that she and husband John Pruett "stayed the course" as she referred to their three-year venture. During that time, Arata Gallery at 450 Columbus Avenue, next door to Stella Bakery, displayed some of the finest art North Beach has ever seen.
"We truly enjoyed the interactions with our clients and know with a different time in the present economy our door would still be open," said Pruett. "Our gallery was one of the establishments where people could come to enjoy the art as well as talk and meet someone new," he said. Pruett noted that he and Arata were very grateful.
"As we began closing that Saturday, said Pruett, we ran across a poster that we had made when we started, in 2009 the day after Thanksgiving." "It was quite sad to see that we as well as five other art venues have closed their doors."We wish the art community in North Beach much success," he said.
With galleries in Truckee, up in Northern California and down in the old South of New Orleans, Arata Gallery presented colorful, lively and detailed compositions. The art work featured was a venue for the students of Arata's alma mater, Academy of Art University. "We were never at a loss for talented artists," she said. And, as for the location and the community, "who could ask for anything better," she said.
Each month Arata Gallery would participate in the "First Friday's" a collective of galleries and merchants that actively seek to welcome visitors and customers by sponsoring events, offering food and extending hours. This is done all once a month and in a spirit of solidarity and community.
Arata Gallery would alert people in flyers and via email, inviting them to enjoy some hors d'oeuvres, wine and cheese. On those 'First Friday's of the month the entire gallery circuit in North Beach all revels in the spirit of community and artistic camaraderie. The City has several such collectives in many areas. Yet for Arata and others, there was something extra special about North Beach.
Maybe it's because in North Beach is where the "Beatnik" generation held court with its new sound, verse and rhythm; or maybe because North Beach is where the "hippie" generation got its start way before the 'Summer of Love' in the Haight and Ashbury area? Who really knows! The history is eclectic and legendary with the likes of Barbra Streisand, Phyllis Diller and even Janis Joplin who made several attempts to live in North Beach in her early years, although that was before she returned to SF with Big Brother and The Holding Company. Yet for Arata and others North Beach has a vibe all its own and that added to Arata's joy of having an art gallery.
"I always struggled with the word 'gallery' said Arata. "Galleries in the traditional sense of the word seem aloof and a bit snobbish perhaps. I always strived to have the gallery feel welcoming, no pressure to buy or to sell, just enjoy the art and take in the ambiance of the work itself," she said.
Arata noted, "Art is the first thin to go and the last to come back in a recession economy like the one we have now." The closing of the gallery she mused, "it wasn't due to a lack of great work or talent, for we had a high caliber of outstanding talent." "It was, is the economy," she said. "When it has to do with discretionary spending, art is one of the first things that gets cut-back." Regardless, Arata was pleased and honored to have had the opportunity to open a gallery in one of the best places in the world - San Francisco in one of the City's most colorful and artistic districts - North Beach.
"John and I are not going away entirely," she said. "We will still be involved with the art scene and will continue to conduct business via the Internet," said Arata. "Yet as for this little gallery spot, she said, it has been fabulous." "I have no regrets, but we are going to take a breather and let it go."
When asked if she had to do it all over again would she and would she do anything different? Arata replied, "I would do it all again in a heartbeat and no, I would not do anything differently," she said.
For more information about Arata Gallery visit the Arata Fine Arts Gallery web site or call 925-828-1209.