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Op-Ed: San Francisco Newspaper editor has his first art show at age 72 Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Sep 23, 2016 in Lifestyle
San Francisco - Having his first art show At 72 is not easy, he admits. But San Francisco newspaper editor Doug Comstock has an accumulated body of work spanning over 50 years.
This weekend he will be debuting his work officially to the public through Art Explosion of San Francisco. Established in 1994, Art Explosion Studios is San Francisco's largest Artist's collective with over 350 artists. As an arts organization, provides affordable art studios in San Francisco and produces art shows for its member artists. By supplying art space and exhibition opportunities, Art Explosion enables its artists to explore their talent and interact with the public in a supportive and creative environment. Artists grow and thrive in such a place, to create a dynamic art scene in San Francisco.
With an arena so large and welcoming, Comtock is in good company for his very first public showing in a gallery setting.
For the most part — at least to this repeater, Comtock is a busy managing editor of the Westside Observer. It is one of the City's beloved neighborhood newspapers, reaching a readership demographic of over 20,000. Little did I know of this man's talents outside of his work at the newspaper.
Yet, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Comstock has been an artist his entire life. "I’ve been creating artwork ever since I can remember," he said, "spending many years painting landscapes, portraits and flowers."
Before he took on the job as managing editor of the newspaper. "I earned a living as a graphic artist in San Francisco, said Comstock. And that was for over 50 years, including a stint as an itinerant sign-painter in the flower-child days of the Haight-Ashbury."
Part of what makes his show unique is the fact as he points out, "I learned my craft on the fly without benefit of professional instruction. The last 20 years have been dedicated to computer graphics (which is one of the things that brought him to newspapers), and that is possibly why I am fascinated by the textural effects the acrylic medium affords. And after a lifetime of struggle with representation of people, landscape and years as a silk screen artist, I’m delighted by the urgency and freedom of what happens when the brilliant colors meet with unexpected materials and when they meet on the canvas or panel itself."
As someone who has seen a lot of change in one of the world's most popular cities, Comstock talked about why even with his work in media, art painting has never left him.
"The abstract range has enticed me in the last few to return to painting, and while I found figure, landscape, flowers and still life rewarding, I am especially intrigued by the textural qualities that add depth to a painted surface. I endeavor to let the beauty of the medium itself speak through, letting pigment be pigment, searching for it’s own beauty is sufficiently gratifying, more compelling, and watching it interact with itself and other elements is humbling to be a part of — and it’s fun," he said.
His work as editor often has him engrossed in every critical detail of publication. Meeting deadlines and being under pressure is much different than art. No that his dedication to art is any less of an effort. Yet, it is this freedom to express or to explore the abstract, where the printed page of only so many words allowed to fit, can not.
"I remain fascinated by the ability of painted surfaces to engage with other people," he said. "And, evoke a mood in ways that do not reflect the realistic portrayal of the world."
Comstock noted that he is enthralled by the use of color, beyond photographs or set images. "Relying on colors: cool and warm, contrasts: stark and soft, depth, definition and direction and, of course, texture, he said. I hope to interest the viewer as I once did as a sign-painter, and through my silk-screened series of greeting cards that I did in the ‘80s. While abstract colors and shapes do not convey the specific meanings that signs and graphics do, the mood and spirit are reflected by the way colors work with or against each other and play together."
He explained his experience and artistic process a bit further.
"I proceed through a painting without a preconceived idea, and give the unexpected and chance a major role. Of course it is impossible to completely withdraw from the process," he said. "But my intent is to remain behind the scenes and limit myself to determining what works, always attempting to avoid the contrived while searching for new, unique forms, shapes and textural effects. While competing aspects of a painting present themselves, I attempt to resolve the tension or lack of it in a way that evokes a feeling. My goal is to connect with the viewer. But ultimately it is to find personal satisfaction with my work."
Honored and pleased to be featured in one of the City's most eclectic and dynamic art-studio, gallery spaces, Comstock is certain this opportunity represents a turning point. "I already have a defined body of work, (which spans more than five decades)," he said. "But I’m excited by the new growth in my repertoire."
For more information about the Art Explosion - Open Studios exhibit and event this weekend, starting on Friday Sept. 23 and concluding Sunday, Sept. 25, visit the Art Explosion web site. Or visit the Art Explosion Studios page on Facebook.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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