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San Francisco Featured Artist: Elena Achilli

Featured Artist Elena Achilli at Red Union Hair Salon and Art Gallery San Francisco, CA

Elena Achilli – Artist Statement:
“Painting for me is a love affair: I am profoundly passionate about it, it grips my heart tightly and I yearn for it when I am away. I am both a dreamer and a believer. I work very intuitively and instinctively, creating a space in which I allow the image to evolve and unravel. My practice demands that I am courageous and openhearted and it always involves risk. It is also an eternal search for truth. I feel things with a burning intensity and my canvas provides a haven for these huge emotions.

I am fascinated by chaos and order fragility and strength, existing simultaneously and the easy harmony that occurs in the natural world between these two forces. My canvas becomes a visual response to these elemental energies and polarities discovered within the environment and myself.

My work is a celebration of the colours and ultimate contrast, no gradients and embraces all that is mistery: the ambiguity is as relevant as the seen in the finished piece.”

Visit Elena Achilli’s website at:
achillielena.com

San Francisco Featured Artist: Jennifer Ewing

Featured Artist Jennifer Ewing at Red Union Hair Salon and Art Gallery San Francisco, CA

Artist Statement:
My themes of passage, transformation, movement in time and space are still with me and as vital to my work as they were when I began this series in 2005. For me, the boat has a dual purpose, It is the vehicle that keeps me safe as I journey but also offers an invitation for the viewer go on their own journey.

The work began as a tribute to my father’s memory. A powerful, motivating force came into my art that gave me a chance to go beyond myself into a bigger place to create from.

Today it is an exploration of each person’s ultimate journey- and the stages they pass through as they ride in the boats. The passengers stop to breath along the way and their breath contributes to the luminosity that I treasure. Along the way, the invisible passenger voyages near to the moon, planets and is guided by universal light through color fields.

Working and experimenting with various media in painting gives me a chance to layer materials and messages about spacial relationships; the boat to water, to the universe, or to the light. I love to draw on top of the paintings because the mark making gives rhythm and movement in addition to the color.

Visit Jennifer Ewing’s website at:
jenniferewing.com

Featured Artist: Greg Wilkie

Featured Artist Greg Wilkie at Red Union Hair Salon and Art Gallery San Francisco, CA About the Artist:
Greg Wilkie was born in Albany, NY in 1948. He spent a great deal of his youth in self-isolation, working on his drawings and water-color paintings or practicing magic. He studied mechanical drawing and art all through school and was frequently advanced to the next level. Looking back, he realized he missed out on some basic techniques since his works gave the appearance of a trained artist. Thus he worked harder outside of class to catch up. His mother recognized his talent early on and encouraged him to become a commercial artist. He could not envision such a career since there were many times he just didn’t feel like painting! And, he liked to create his own work, not what someone else told him to produce.
His mother entered many of his works in the County Fairs where he frequently received first place awards.
 
Unfortunately, his early works and awards were destroyed when his parents home burned to the ground. For years afterwards he shied away from painting and focused instead on the art of magic.
 
Reality of Life
Mr. Wilkie enlisted in the Navy at 17 and served two tours of duty in Vietnam where the idyllic life of youth suddenly evaporated. It was during that time that he became aware of the fleeting nature of life. When he returned to civilian life, nothing was the same. His older brother died suddenly in 1972 followed by his father in 1975. The compound trauma sent him into the throes of depression. He spent two decades searching for purpose in his life. While on his quest, he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Administration of Justice, a Masters in Public Administration, worked as a laborer, ambulance driver, police officer, window washer, long-haul truck driver, a BART train operator and magician. None of these activities fulfilled his soul.
 
Rebirth of the Painter
Mr. Wilkie regained his passion for painting while watching water-color artists in Thailand while he and his family were touring Southeast Asia performing magic. He was intrigued by the simplicity of the palm tree and ocean scenes and the artists’ ability to produce them quickly and with ease. Nothing ever came that easily to him.
 
He immediately got to work, sitting for hours on the floor, with brushes, paints and paper. So ended his magic interlude and the four year tour of Southeast Asia. He and his family returned to United States and made their home in California.
 
Finding Acrylics
Mr. Wilkie discovered acrylic paints and realized he had found his medium of choice. He could blend the techniques of both water-color and oil painting. He has painted on a variety of supports including glass, wood, canvas, paper and most recently mat board. He is on a quest to find durable supports that will last long into the future…
 
Mr. Wilkie is ever-concerned about preserving his works. His goal is to leave pieces of himself behind so that his descendants will be able to see the life he lived through his eyes. For him, there is only the reality of what was and what is in the moment. In his view, life is real—and that’s the way he paints it.

Running the Best Hair Salon in San Francisco 2009

So, just how does a hairdresser also become an entrepreneur/business owner of a great Hair Salon in San Francisco?

Most people get an education at a reputable business school and then armed with knowledge go out and make their way. In my case it was more of the “School of hard knocks” and “Learn as you earn” kind of philosophy. Some of the lessons where expensive ones and if you asked me, I have paid as much on my education than if I had gone to Berkeley, UCSF, or Stanford.

Having been a salon owner for 5 years the learning curve is much more fun now. However, some things where right out “painful” to learn. Like numbers for example! It took me 3 years to even look at them. Early on, I knew we where in the red. I felt like I was failing! So, in my mind if I did not look at the numbers, I could not be such a failure.

Marketing is another example of not understanding what or why things work. I would love to have the money I have spent on advertising and marketing alone. Then there are contracts, leases to negotiate, endless red tape so the government can keep track of you, problem solving, people skills, and so on. Being a more creative mind, hair-cutting, hair-coloring, party hair. blow-outs, make-up, etc… are super fun for me and super easy. It’s like playing with life-size dolls all day and hanging out with your friends gossiping and having fun. They talk about the right brain, left brain abilities and I have to say there is something to that. Being creative is fun, painless, and exciting. Business on the other hand was a learned skill for me.

After 5 years, I feel much more capable using both sides of my brain…LOL. We are moving full steam forward and remodeling the salon this week for a bigger better Red Union Salon! It takes a lot to keep being “The Best Hair Salon in San Francisco”. We attend hair classes all over the world to keep our skill set fresh. We also have in-house product knowledge classes at least every 3 months ensuring that our stylists are “the best at hair in the bay area”. They do everything with hair from Hair-styling, Hair-cutting, Hair-coloring, Corrective Color, Hi-lights, Low-lights, Party Hair, Perms, Relaxers, Party Styles, Extensions, Weddings, Make-up etc.

I have always felt that art, fashion and music are all part of the whole picture. We have a rotating Art Gallery with Art Openings every other month. I am looking forward to also bringing in the fashion and music in the very near future. Keep your eyes pealed and if you’re in the neighborhood check out our new remodel.

Happy New Year 2009 to everyone and thanks for helping make our hair salon what it is today.

Erika