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Michael Walls Gallery

Remembering the architect James Leefe


Splash Series, # 6. An abstract painting by the San Francisco architect James Leefe.

Photo: Leefe Archives/meaus.com


The Michael Walls Gallery building was built for the sale of contemporary fine arts works. The building was not constructed by James Leefe; it was described as a "magnificent space" that was there to be grasped. The building was emptied and rendered into a place that could be adapted into a new, useful gallery space. It was located in Ghirardelli Square, in San Francisco, an area popular with artists and culture.

That it was not "constructed", does not mean that there was not construction that took place. In fact, to gut the building, many walls were removed and some constructed in order to create a more unified art exhibition space. "The design solution was simply to erase those things that would interfere with the experience of this space and to strengthen those that would heighten it," he wrote in his portfolio. It had created a wide-open space with freestanding walls and ample room for lighting equipment.


The Michael Walls Gallery in San Francisco, designed by James Leefe.

Photo: Leefe Archives/meaus.com


After gutting the building and constructing auxiliary walls, which served only the purpose to increase the wall space for more art.

After this, it was renovated throughout, including the floors and windows, in order to make a space that limited light; this was accomplished by covering the walls in linen, and staining the floor a very dark, "almost black," color. The rest of the interior was then painted white, for tasteful neutrality and elegance, including the rafter beams, lights and equipment.


A look at one of the early exhibitions shows the kind of abstract works generally shown in the Michael Walls Gallery in the 1970s in California.

Photo: Leefe Archives/meaus.com


This tasteful space created a vending location for painters, drawers and sculptors alike. The accompanying photos show the wide variety of sculptures that were housed in the gallery, as well, some of the paintings. There above photo exemplifies the abstract artwork expected and displayed in a gallery of this nature. If one looks close enough, also several of abstract paintings used can be seen.



Photos and text Copyright 2005 Museum of European Art

No part of the text or any of the photographs may be reproduced without a written permission from the copyright holder, the Museum of European Art, 10545 Main Street, Clarence, New York 14031 (USA). Contact John Zavrel, Director, at  zavrel@meaus.com


© PROMETHEUS 113/2006

PROMETHEUS, Internet Bulletin - News, Politics, Art and Science. Nr. 113, November 2006