So Frish, So Clean

Office Goals

On the fourth floor of a building at 49 Geary St. in San Francisco, there is an office inside a gallery that is itself a place of beauty. The office belongs to Frish Brandt, who is president and partner of Fraenkel Gallery, a blue-chip fine art institution featuring an all-star roster of contemporary and classic photographic and mixed media artists. A few blocks away from SFMOMA, this gallery has long been on my list of places to visit for serious contemporary art.

I saw an announcement for their upcoming exhibit “Lee Friedlander Framed by Joel Coen.” I will be attending this weekend to see the opening, but I also had to make a visit last weekend to view the final hour of a Nan Goldin show. Some work is important to see in person, and this was no exception.

While I was taking in the powerful work of Goldin’s exhibition, I came across the office, her office. Facing Geary Street, the room was drenched in afternoon light, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It’s almost impossible for me to walk down any street in London without feeling a little bit inspired. I felt the same way when I saw Brandt’s bright and orderly office. It just looked like a great place to think and write.

A Really Awesome Room of One’s Own : An Artist’s Aspiration

Later, as I walked back and forth through the gallery, I noticed her sitting at her desk writing something with focus and urgency. I didn’t want to interrupt her, but I did want to say hello and to thank her for keeping a place alive that matters so much to me. An artist needs to believe it is possible to be an artist, to have a successful career. Fraenkel Gallery is a beacon of hope in a world of misunderstanding and gloom.

To my surprise, Brandt was friendly and warmly greeted me although she was working to meet a deadline. She took my email and promised they would send me the press release for the next show, which the gallery has done. She even humored me by answering my questions for her about the connection between Goldin’s show “Memory Lost” and her own Lasting Letters project.

She explained that the resonance was incidental, but suggested that I check out Janet Cardiff’s piece at SFMOMA called “The Telephone Call.” I will be visiting the museum this week before attending the opening at Fraenkel Gallery, because Frish is someone who has inspired artists and makes it possible to dream big dreams about photography and art. Her recommendations carry weight.

Frish also explained that she is more concerned with living in the present and not in her past, and that the Lasting Letters project is more about being present. Frish is a mensch of the art world, a person who makes the world around her beautiful and full with meaning. She’s also a baker and when I asked what she’s been baking recently she said that she’s been baking granola but that she also makes a favorite Ricotta Lemon Cake.

This weekend, from 2-4pm the Fraenkel Gallery is hosting Lee Friedlander and Joel Coen at the opening of the new exhibition “Lee Friedlander Framed by Joel Coen.”

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