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House of Seiko’s Inaugural Show Revels in Subtlety and Process

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Red bright storefront with white wall gallery inside, sign above door reads 'watch & jewelery repair'
House of Seiko opened on 22nd Street on Jan. 14 with its inaugural show, 'Cardinal Index.' (Courtesy of House of Seiko)

It’s easy to point to the losses in the Bay Area visual arts scene. But for as many closings as we’ve experienced, there have been — and hopefully always will be — inaugural shows, expansions and anniversaries to celebrate. When Delaplane, a narrow space on San Francisco’s 14th Street, closed up shop in March 2022, its final group show was exultant, with crowds spilling onto the sidewalk and street.

It makes sense that a similarly enthusiastic mass of people gathered for the grand opening of House of Seiko on Jan. 14, a new gallery run by one half of Delaplane, Cole Solinger, and Nicolas Torres of neighboring Buddy Bar. When the Bay Area art scene wants to, it can really show up.

The 22nd Street space (a former watch and “jewelery” repair shop, or so says the remaining sign), opened with Cardinal Index, a group show of eight works by eight artists. In that mix of sculpture, installation and works on paper, we get a statement of purpose for the brand new gallery: a gentle invitation to look closer, and to enjoy work that comes from a group of artists with Bay Area ties.

Small pile of ziploc backs with clipped newspaper inside
Colter Jacobsen, ‘it’s 8’s all the way down (Uncle Steve’s morning meditation),’ 2021. (Courtesy of House of Seiko)

None of the work here overwhelms, befitting the small scale of the gallery space. Colter Jacobson’s contribution to the show is a tidy pile of Ziploc bags in one corner. In each: a collection of carefully cut-out ‘8’s from newspapers and magazines, clipped by Jacobsen’s Uncle Steve and mailed to the artist.

Other pieces nearly blend into their surroundings: Syd Yocom’s untitled chandelier sculpture is covered in slug-like embellishments of beeswax and brass, and hangs unobtrusively from the gallery ceiling between fluorescent tubes. And Marisa Takal’s delicate collage on a cardboard box, a kind of concrete poem made up of the words “sky,” “tree” and “ground,” is easy to miss in the gallery’s large, street-facing window.

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The show revels in subtlety and process; wild textures are the one extravagance. In Davina Semo’s Terrain, a wall-mounted relief of aluminum, its surface resembles a rectangle of rough bark or a moisture-starved slab of clay. Something like an asterisk symbol punctures the organic forms — a mark of annotation or omission on this vertical, cryptic landscape.

Interior view of white walled gallery with floor and wall work under fluorescent lights
Installation view of ‘Cardinal Index’ with work by Ishan Clemenco, Rumi Koshino, Kennedy Morgan, Syd Yocom and Colter Jacobsen. (Courtesy of House of Seiko)

In two small works on paper by Kennedy Morgan and Rumi Koshino, the material indulgence is all about different approaches to colored pencil: delicate or dense in each artist’s respective hands. Morgan’s The Ladder (a nice compliment to Yocom’s twisty light fixture) shows entwined vines with feathery red and blue blossoms at their ends. Like a careful botanic study of an alien species, there is something otherworldly about Morgan’s drawing, mounted under an appropriately sci-fi sheet of plastic.

The restrained presentation of Cardinal Index lends all the work a suggestion of possible expansion. Those ‘8’s could scatter across the floor. The organic growth implied in Yocom and Morgan’s work could wend its way across the white walls and through the metal security gate. An installation by Ishan Clemenco that uses chalk line dust, exposed sheet film and a wooden ruler (among many other materials) is all about marks and measurements — a series of precise moments charted in a highly personal way.

If this gallery used to be a temporary home for broken timepieces, it makes sense that the work we see here represents a pause within a larger, longer conversation. The most tangible representation of this idea comes from Sam Shoemaker’s Vessel #XI, a ceramic and reishi mushroom sculpture made by allowing the reishi to grow for several months, responding to slight changes in its environment in its own “mushroom language.”

In House of Seiko’s window, this arrested collaboration between an artist and a fungus is a delightful sign of all the experimentation to come.

‘Cardinal Index’ is on view at House of Seiko (3109 22nd St., San Francisco) through Feb. 25. Details here.

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