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Riki Rafner

The Commonwealth Club of California Farmer Gallery Showcases the Works of Christopher Peterson: “What is Real” July 9 through September 9, 2019

San Francisco (July 11, 2019)—The Commonwealth Club continues its tradition of showcasing the work of local artists at its headquarters based at 110 The Embarcadero. The pieces are being displayed on a rotating basis in the Club’s new Farmer Gallery based on the Lobby Level of its new building. With funds from Tawnie and John Farmer, former Chair of the Commonwealth Club Board, The Club was able to establish a gallery space with proper lighting and a professional hanging system. The Club is currently pleased to present “What is Real” oil paintings of Christopher Peterson now through September 2019.

Peterson says he uses photography as his reference for his imagery. He notes, “The job of the artist in society is to reflect what he sees and put in as much of a poetic form as possible. I often see beauty and unusual things. Gas stations, trashcans, cars, people. Whatever the light is shining on, that’s what I want to paint.” Many of the works in this exhibit depict various San Francisco and Berkeley scenes and views.

As a “realist,” artist Christopher Peterson says “Every painting has two readings—one when we walk into the room to see it, and the other when we walk up close to inspect it more closely. Both have to be satisfying to the viewer. When people look at my paintings, I want them to see a well-made painting. I want people to separate the subject from the object, because that’s what I do when I make them.”

Curator of the Club’s exhibits Lynn Curtis comments, “I love the dynamic energy that comes through in Peterson’s work. It is truly remarkable how he is able to transform real life everyday images—from freeways to gas stations, into geometric shapes and vibrant urban life. Viewers will surely enjoy identifying featured locales and landmarks which make the Bay Area such a unique and luminous backdrop.”  

About the Artist: Peterson, who has spent 35 years in the Bay Area, was president of the San Francisco Society of Illustrators. He has received many awards for his work, including the Gold and Bronze medal from the San Francisco Society of Illustrators in 2000 and the Gold medal from them in 2001. He is known for numerous posters he created for Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson, Paul Simon James Taylor, Brian Wilson, John Lee Hooker and Bonnie Raitt. He has also worked in advertising, designing images for Pepsi, Reebok, Buick, The New York Times, Pacific Bell, Macy’s, Fortune and Ogilvy & Mather. His paintings have been shown at the Oakland Museum Collectors’ Gallery, Art Concepts Gallery in Walnut Creek, the Epperson gallery in Crockett, and Start SOMA Gallery in San Francisco, amongst others.

Peterson says that like many boys who grew up in the suburbs of New York City during the sixties, his earliest influences were The Beatles, The Monkees, Rolling Stones, Walt Disney, Norman Rockwell, Peter Max and Andy Warhol. He has also been inspired by his favorite American artists including Andrew Wyeth and Winslow Homer.

Peterson launched his career in New York City as an illustrator after studying at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

About Lynn Curtis: Longtime Commonwealth Club volunteer and artist herself Lynn Curtis has curated over 50 of the Club’s exhibitions since 2007. Curtis produced exhibits in the Gold Room of the Club’s former office space at 595 Market Street from 2008 through 2014.

Curtis noted, “I love looking at art and looking for artists. It’s an exciting adventure seeking these visual treasures. Open Studios in the Bay Area provides a great opportunity to visit the artists where they work.” Curtis also frequents local galleries, mines local papers, and receives recommendations of those she meets at the Club. About the work she chooses to display she says “All of them must be honest, with a unique insight. The winners draw me to them.”

Curtis, a native of Pennsylvania, attended the College of the Arts in Oakland, known as the College of Arts and Crafts. She is a graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the first and oldest art school and museum in this country, established in 1805. She says she is indebted to the classical training she received there which, in fact, is the substance of her art background.

Notes Curtis, “The exhibition program is a continuation of the purpose of the Club: to expose the public to new thoughts and ideas as a public forum. The exposure here, though, is silent. Each artwork speaks to the viewer’s eyes, and the viewer must internalize what he sees.” Curtis recommends that the viewer always asks, “What is this artist trying to say to me, and why?” 

Exhibits of artworks at the Club's Farmer Gallery are available during most business hours and, unless otherwise noted, are free to view. Many exhibits will also feature a special event featuring the artist. For more information about Club exhibits please visit Interested parties may send exhibit proposals with photos via email: (300 dpi. Jpg.)

About the Commonwealth Club of California: Founded in 1903, The Commonwealth Club of California is the nation’s premier public affairs forum, with more than 25,000 members. For the past 11 decades, the Club has fostered free speech and civic dialogue on a wide range of topics, addressing key issues in society, culture, politics, the economy and more in about 500 live programs each year. Based in San Francisco with a second office in San Jose, the Club presents speeches, debates and discussions each year on issues of regional, national and international significance. The Club continues to host its guests—from presidents and activists to scientists and chefs—at its headquarters on the Embarcadero in downtown San Francisco as well as at venues around San Francisco, Silicon Valley, the East Bay and Marin County. In addition to its traditional forums, the Club hosts the Climate One project on climate change, and Inforum, a division oriented to younger community members. It has sponsored public policy projects over the years, ranging from early 1900s studies and reports leading to environmental and social legislative and policy innovations, to more recent efforts to improve state governance in California. The Club has produced a PBS film, published books and publishes a bimonthly magazine, The Commonwealth.

About 1 million people listen to The Commonwealth Club’s weekly radio broadcast—the oldest continuing radio program in the country—on more than 230 public and commercial stations across the country. The Club’s podcasts are downloaded about 5 million times each year. The Club’s videos also appear on the California Channel, C-SPAN and YouTube, where they have been viewed millions of times. For more information, visit