Valerie Dow first discovered the Berkeley paintings of Shelley Hoyt sixteen years ago. Now, as a show of Hoyt’s work is exhibited in San Francisco, Dow shares her appreciation of the artist’s work.

Big open views of the bay from Berkeley vantage points are the subject of recent paintings by Oakland artist Shelley Hoyt which are being exhibited at the Dolby Chadwick Gallery in San Francisco.

The view from the Rose Garden, across Cesar Chavez Park to the Golden Gate Bridge, is a frequent subject. In fact, Hoyt has been making essentially the same beautiful paintings of Berkeley views for 21 years; she has spent the four years since her last exhibit learning to make them big.

I first saw Shelley’s work in 1995 on display at the Berkeley home store, Zia (now past tense). I had just moved to North Berkeley and was struck that she’d captured the same views that I looked for when was out I walking my dogs. The paintings were quite small, most no bigger than a file folder. The colors were soft and the impression they gave of the bay was quite serene.

The more I walked in Berkeley, the more I thought about those paintings and wanted to see them again. It took me three years to track Shelley down. I finally found her through a Pro Arts East Bay Open Studio and have been following her work as a fan ever since.

In 1998, I finally bought one of her pieces, a view from Lawrence Hall of Science. It was the largest painting she’d done at that time.

Seeing the new big paintings at the Dolby Chadwick Gallery took my breath away. These are the same images I’ve seen in her work for years, but they are now expanded in scale and depth and impact. What a journey for an artist to make.

“These views are air to me,” says Shelley in her artist statement. “Inhaling the spaciousness of sky and water, crowded, constricted exhausted places in me calm and expand. I paint pictures of what I need.”

You will have to go to San Francisco to see these beautiful paintings from Berkeley.

New Paintings from Shelley Hoyt runs from June 2 – July 2 at the Dolby Chadwick Gallery, 210 Post Street, San Francisco.

Guest contributor

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