Who knew that when a SOMA art studio decided to close up shop and embark on an all-new period of experimentation that it would choose Los Altos as its first lab?
Yes, it's a gallery. With a twist. Friday night is Aurobora's big opening at 359 State Street, and it begins a four-month window of discovery—for both gallery founder Michael Liener and the local community.
As part of First Friday's February downtown party, from 5 to 8 p.m., the gallery's official opening kicks off with all the usual accoutrements of fine-art openings—wine and cheese—plus the Black Mountain Radio bluegrass band.
Bluegrass. That's one way to launch into a era of experimentation and becoming part of the community for a little while. The band is local, and the band leader is a local businessman. And sure helps a gallery opening feel a little more, well, accessible.
For two decades, Aurobora (pronounced oh-ROH-boh-rah) was an invitational studio which brought artists in one or another medium to experiment with print-making during a week of residency in the South Park neighborhood of San Francisco's South of Market district.
It publishes unique works by artists of regional, national and international reputations and exhibits regularly changing shows of works created by artists during residencies, Liener said.
Some Los Altans were familiar with the atelier in the South of Market district known as SOMA, including Amanda Tevis, co-founder of Passerelle Investments, which owns the building and suggested Liener see it.
With perfect timing.
After 20 years, the studio decided to change things sharply. It sold off its intaglio presses, a large one that was capable of printing the large works of monotypes, and a smaller one. It gave up its Brannan Street location.
It began planning a new traveling series of gallery projects to bring its extensive art archive to different communities. First up, through March 2013, downtown Los Altos.
SOMA meet State Street. State Street meet SOMA. Let's have a conversation, Liener would like to say.
What Liener expects is to host a space where any viewer can start a dialogue about an emotion or a response to what is on the gallery's walls, and begin building a vocabulary to talk about the art. There are no right or wrong answers to the questions raised.
What he expects for Aurobora is a equally open-ended. Later, perhaps, Sun Valley, ID and Palm Springs.
The motto for the gallery when it invited artists to live and make art for 20 years is the same in 2013. “Without experimentation, there is no discovery; and without discovery there is no re-generation.”
Patch will post a video interview with Michael Liener in the coming days.