Homes As Galleries, Literally

When I wrote recently about Homekeeping When You're Home Sick, a few people wrote encouraging comments such as, "Don't sweat it — your home is not a gallery!" Wise words — that also reminded me of the amazing home-galleries I've had the chance to visit here in San Francisco.

The San Francisco Chronicle recently ran a great article entitled "Home Galleries Pick Up Where Museums Leave Off," which documented this rising trend: "There might be five or 10 San Francisco home galleries with regular curatorial schedules. In June there were one-night installations in 20 homes on 20 consecutive nights." Home-gallerists open their home — or a portion of their home — to artists, allowing them to hang art and sometimes even completely transform the space. In general, the galleries don't have regular hours &,dash; by appointment only — but do welcome the public to opening and/or closing parties. It seems the unconventional venue benefits both artists and buyers. Artists, because galleries like True Silver "charge a 30 percent commission, as opposed to 50-50 at a commercial gallery". And buyers, because "seeing art in a home sparks budding collectors' enthusiasm because they see it in a space they can relate to", according to Heather Villyard, co-owner of True Silver.

The Bold Italic recently featured home galleries as well, with a thorough round-up of the best in San Francisco. As Christy Chan wrote, "Other than museums and galleries, are there spaces where you can get a little more intimate with artists? Yup. Margo Moritz and I spent a couple days visiting our favorite home galleries, where locals have converted their kitchens, living rooms, and entire apartments into showrooms. These aren't random enthusiasts hanging paintings for a handful of friends. On the contrary, they're skilled curators who've created respected destinations for collectors, while welcoming visitors to interact with the artists displaying their work."

I've seen shows at True Silver and The Spare Room Project, and both were charming. Though the gallery rooms were generally cleared of everything but art, there were enough touches of home — a chandelier, an old-fashioned radiator, a piano, a couch — to make the space feel warm and welcoming. Some commercial galleries are so cold and perfect — and let's not forget vast — that it's hard to imagine any of the work in your own little home. The setting also seems to put visitors at ease, creating the atmosphere of an incredibly well decorated house party, rather than a formal art event.

Could you imagine hosting artists and art lovers? Though the private spaces of these homes are generally closed off, that's still a lot of people to be going through your house/bathroom/stuff. But the owners of these unconventional galleries seem to do it simply because they love it. As the trio behind The Spare Room Project wrote, "We feel lucky enough just to get by in San Francisco, so to have extra space is like an ocean of endless possibility. We came up with the idea one day after deciding there was very little living going on in the living room. We were feeling uninspired by our daily grind and decided if we weren't going to stumble across inspiration, we were going to have to make it." Lovely.

(Image: Margo Moritz for The Bold Italic's "Hang Your Hat")