Figure Telling: Contemporary Bay Area Figuration

June 3 – September 17: Gallery 1

Northern California artists have once again embraced the figure – but contemporary Bay Area figuration has a radically different feel. A multigenerational group of Bay Area artists working in a variety of media produce compelling works grounded in narrative, storytelling and personal memory.

Read the press release

Public Program: Artist Panel with Chief Curator Kate Eilertsen

Saturday, July 22 @ 2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. in Gallery 1

In what ways are today’s Bay Area artists interpreting the figure and why? Join Chief Curator Kate Eilertsen, to explore these questions and more during a special conversation with the multiple generations and perspectives represented by the artists of Figure Telling: Bay Area Contemporary Figuration


Sydney Cain is a visual artist born and raised in San Francisco. Through large-scale and intimate works, Cain honors those who have passed on and provides them with sacred sites to be reborn and reimagined. Currently in graduate school at Yale University, Cain is represented by Rena Bransten Gallery and has exhibited at SOMArts and the Oakland Museum of California, among others.
Radio Imagination (part II) 2021 Acrylic, charcoal, steel, pastel chalk on wood Courtesy of Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco
Craig Calderwood, a self-taught artist, uses low-end materials like found fabrics, polymer clay and fiber tip pens to create intricate and decorative works rendered through a personal vernacular of symbols and patterns that tell stories both personal and fantasized. Calderwood’s work has been exhibited at the Oakland Museum of California, Mills College Art Museum and Museum of Craft and Design, among others.
How's Your Jesus Christ Been Hanging?, 2018
Image courtesy of the Artist and George Adams Gallery, New York
John Goodman, a painter’s painter who draws inspiration from the Bay Area Figurative movement, came to painting after a long and successful career as a playwright. His storytelling skill is central to his being and career. His understated minimalism, signature impasto brushwork and reductive use of color speak of isolation and eternity. Goodman lives and works in San Francisco, CA, and is represented by the Andra Norris Gallery, Burlingame.


Illustration for Untold Stories #16, 2023
Afsoon Razavi is an Iranian-American artist and designer living and working in Napa, CA. With her charcoal drawings of free-flowing hair, Razavi tells the story of Iranian women’s protests and self-determination as their government prohibits them from showing their hair in public.
Josephine Taylor‘s mysterious drawings leave us searching for the sources of her history. Using delicate colors with meticulous details, Taylor explores the traumas and joys of contemporary experience. Taylor is a 2017 Fleishhacker Foundation Eureka Fellow and a 2004 recipient of the SFMOMA SECA award, among other accolades. She is represented by Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco and opens a solo exhibition at the gallery in September 2023.
The Night, 2013, Colored inks on paper
Image courtesy of the artist & Catharine Clark Gallery
Photo Credit: John Wilson White Studio Phocasso
Heather Wilcoxon‘s figures explore contemporary issues including abortion and immigration. Each piece has a story to tell — however she leaves space for each viewer to make up their own narrative. Having studied at the San Francisco Art Institute, Wilcoxon lives and works in Sausalito, CA. She has received fellowships including two from the Pollack/Krasner Foundation, and recently received a Distinguished Woman in the Arts Award from the Fresno Art Museum.
Rebel, 2023, Oil on wood