Bay Area Stairways

Ina Coolbrith Park, Russian Hill
Ina Coolbrith Park, Russian Hill

Gouache and casein on panel, 7.5″ x 21.5″

Bernal Heights
Bernal Heights

Gouache and casein on panel, 7.5″ x 21.5″

 

Hundreds of secret stairways lead up and down the hills of the Bay Area. From them you can spot alleyways, rooftops, and backyard nooks, and take in cityscapes and sweeping views. My stairway paintings travel along these paths, carving them out with crooked angles, curves, light and shadow, and warm, happy colors. 

In the spirit of Picasso and David Hockney, these works explore how to paint the journey of a city walk. They show a stairway not as if the viewer were staring at it from just one point—an artificial view—but as we experience it: walking up the path, looking left, looking right, glancing back down; taking in the broad view, and admiring each petal on a flower. 

The series combines my delight in the playfulness of stairways—their ups and downs and curves and turns—with the simple love of the Bay Area’s neighborhoods and hills. That love grew even deeper during the pandemic. It was a hard time and I yearned for respite. The hills were happy to oblige. 

The first few paintings in the series travel up a stairway from the bottom to top of the panel. Down El Cerrito flips this vision by traveling downwards on the stairway but upwards on the panel, with the view from the hills opening out at the top. In Up and Down Excelsior, you are invited to travel many different ways. The most recent painting, Golden Gate Heights, explores the sense of time by progressing from late afternoon to sunset.

stairway walk 1-Edit
Catherine’s Walk (Albany Hill)

Giclee print of digitally altered watercolor, 7.5″ x 21.5″

 

Virginia St., Berkeley
Virginia St., Berkeley

Gouache and casein on panel, 7.5″ x 21.5″

 

Down El Cerrito
Down El Cerrito

Gouache and casein on panel, 7.5″ x 27.5″

 

Up and Down Excelsior
Up and Down Excelsior

Gouache and casein on panel, 7.5″ x 27.5″

El Cerrito Stairways
El Cerrito Stairways

Gouache and casein on panel, 7.5″ x 21.5″

Golden Gate Heights
Golden Gate Heights

Gouache and casein on panel, 7.5″ x 25″

Albany Hill Sunset
Albany Hill Sunset

Gouache and casein on panel, 8″ x 28″