san francisco art magazine archives

Mysterious Jewels
Dana DeKalb

Happy Hour - Dana DeKalb

Heather Marx Gallery
77 Geary Street, Second Floor
San Francisco, California

December 6, 2001 - January 5, 2002
Reviewed by Carol L. Weinfeld

Salon - Dana DeKalb


     Close observation of Dana DeKalb's show at the Heather Marx Gallery reveals mysterious jewels of paintings. The mystery encompasses paintings of people in action, portraits, and still lifes. Exactingly painted, the art is beautiful and evocative of dreams.

     DeKalb is curious about people: her paintings are stories of people in action. In Fold, three boys play pipes against a dream-like background of unidentifiable animals scampering.

     A man may be attempting to tame boars by reading books to them in Salon. The title evokes salons, gatherings for intellectual discussions. We wonder how interested the boars are in books.

Mariner - Dana DeKalb


     The most mysterious painting is Vespers, where a woman, surrounded by pagoda-shaped houses of cards, is about to paint one red. We wonder if this is her garden, why she is painting the object and why there is an allusion to religion. We feel as if we glimpsed something from afar in DeKalb's paintings, and want to know the outcome of the stories.

     The portraits are also allusive, but to facts known only to the artist. Only she knows what the Fishwife is pondering, with her bemused look and ambiguous, bone-like objects. DeKalb could explain why the Mariner plays with intertwined rope, and why the Courtier smiles.

     To the viewer, the woman in Betrothed appears shy and hesitant. The stormy background may not bode well for her future, but the artist knows what will happen. We can only guess and reflect, which is why the paintings engage us.

Composition II - Dana DeKalb

Composition II

     DeKalb's still lifes invite us to study the shapes and details of objects, just as DeKalb has studied them. In Composition IV, the folds in a napkin are like the lines of the rolling hills in the background. Blossoms have hard edges like that of folded paper; the designs on the paper in Composition III follow the shapes of the blossoms.

     It is most intriguing to see how DeKalb has deconstructed her larger paintings into 6" x 6" paintings of objects. We thus find echoes and reverberations that connect the smaller paintings to the portraits and story paintings. For example, we see the ornament and brush of the Fishwife and the house of Vespers, both as if through a photographic close-up. The similar palette of muted colors (dusky blues, browns, and greens) also connects all the paintings to one another. We notice the careful craft of the artist in the excerpts of the larger paintings and are drawn back to the large ones.

Fishwife - Dana DeKalb


     Hurry and see this lovely show, as it closes on January 5th. The gallery will not be open January 1st and 2nd, however, the gallery invites visitors to privately see the art after the show closes.

--Carol L. Weinfeld
     Carol L. Weinfeld is a contributing writer for San Francisco Art Magazine.

     Happy Hour by Dana DeKalb appears at the top of the page. All images this page courtesy of Dana DeKalb and Heather Marx Gallery.

     For more information about Heather Marx Gallery, visit