José Ramón Lerma, Bay Area Artist: A Sixty Year Retrospective

Event has passed (Sat Apr 6, 2013 - Sun May 5, 2013)
ArtZone 461 Gallery
12-6 pm


April 6 to May 5, 2013 at ArtZone 461 Gallery

José Ramón Lerma, Bay Area Artist: A Sixty Year Retrospective and
Selections from the Collections of José R. Lerma

ArtZone 461 Gallery is pleased to announce a sixty-year retrospective exhibition for Bay Area artist José Ramón Lerma. Primarily considered an abstract expressionist, he studied at the California School of Fine Arts (CSFA, now the San Francisco Art Institute) during its heyday of importance as the center for West Coast Abstraction and associated movements like dada, beat, funk, pop, surrealism, collage and constructions. Lerma experimented fearlessly across genres and avoided categorization. Pure and not simple, Lerma is an artist who recognized, appreciated and participated in the historic Bay Area and California movements starting in the 1950s and continuing through today.

In addition to the comprehensive career overview, ArtZone’s Side Gallery features selections from José Lerma’s personal collection built over the past sixty years. These represent fresh archives of historic importance and contain examples of works traded or purchased from his professors or colleagues and friends. Displayed are rarely, if ever, seen paintings, prints, sculpture and photographs. Artists included are: Dorr Bothwell; Dimitri Grachis; Roy De Forest; Howard Foote; Mel Hanson; Juan Sandoval; Ruth Wall; Julius Wasserstein; Imogene Cunningham and notable William T. Wiley early ceramics, to name a few.

José Ramón Lerma was born in Hollister in 1930. He received a scholarship to the CSFA in 1948 and began classes in 1950. Serving in the Korean War from 1951 to 1953 interrupted his schooling. He resumed studies at CSFA from 1954 to 1958. The artist commented on his early years at the school as having, “…the most impact on my life and art. The art world of the fifties was free of the market and its temptations. There was a certain purity about it.”

These statements are remarkably revealing in laying the foundation for Lerma’s career. They reflect both the influence of his instructors at CSFA and his personal beliefs regarding the traditional gallery. Lerma rebelled against commercialism and the commoditization of art. It motivated him to join fellow artist friends who together founded the Russian Hill Gallery in 1959. Though it closed in 1961, it held exhibitions for beat and abstract artists who previously showed with the early, historic and important artist-run San Francisco galleries. Their names are included in Lerma’s résumé as places where he also had solo and group shows: The 6 Gallery, East-West Gallery, The Spatsa, annual exhibitions at the Green Gallery (1960-1968) and, of course, the Russian Hill Gallery. Infused with history while following a singular path, Lerma’s career mirrors his fierce independence; this anti-establishment stance has, unfortunately, affected his visibility among his peers. ArtZone 461 Gallery anticipates this show will germinate the seeds of increased visibility and long overdue appreciation for this champion of art historic documentation, experimentation and art creation.

Artist's Reception Saturday April 13, 5:00 – 8:00 pm

Gallery Hours: 12-6 pm Wednesday-Sunday, occasional evenings and anytime by appointment


  1. ArtZone 461 Gallery 461 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA