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Park Life Print Show

A Whimsical Selection

The Richmond District’s Park Life Store is only a store some of the time. Other times, it’s a gallery -- often both at once. It’s not the first venture to do double duty by a long shot, but it’s one of San Francisco’s best examples of blending a curator's instincts with a designer's commercial sensibilities.

The Store/Gallery was founded in 2006 by Jamie Alexander and Derek Song in a turn-of-the-century space that once housed the Busvan Furniture outlet. That gives it about 1200 square feet of floor space beneath vast and cavernous ceilings. As far as retail goods, the store stocks books, modern design objects, gifts, prints, paper goods, tee shirts, homeware, a few toys, magazines, dvds, jewelry, artist multiples and more and various other marginally useful but wonderfully engaging knick-knacks.

On their website, Alexander and Song explain their eclectic philosophy, infused as it is with a desire to be multifarious about what’s explored: “In the Park Life Gallery,” the two explain, “our ambition is to show the most engaging contemporary art being created today…rang[ing] from a solo show for a young art student to a unique installation by a world renowned artist to a showcase to raise funds for a non-profit organization…and everything in between.” Walk in and you’ll quickly sense that you’ve passed into one of San Francisco’s many beautiful little bubbles. There’s an ethereal air to the place and one falls into a correspondingly detached state of happiness.

Such whimsy is exemplified, more specifically, in the playful prints on exhibit presently on Park Life’s walls. In its second annual run, the Park Life store is hosting its Print Show, featuring works by a number of renowned local and internationally well-known artists. The line-up’s downright formidable (if playful prints by playful artists can be called formidable, that is): Tucker Nichols, of San Francisco, has had recent solo shows appearing at ZieherSmith Gallery in New York, Lincart and Gallery 16 in San Francisco, and the Kunstpanorama in Lucerne. His slight, deadpan humor has manifested itself in drawings and prints, sometimes directly on walls, other times published in periodicals Zoetrope and The New York Times.

The show also features another San Franciscan who, like Nichols, has achieved worldwide notoriety: Chris Johansen. His sly humor and bold colors have graced the walls of local galleries as well as those farther afield, like Nicolai Wallner Gallery in Germany. Nichols and Johansen are just two of the many fabulous artists on display. Another’s whose prints appear at Park Life is Marcel Dzama a member of the pleasantly infamous Canadian art collective, Royal Art Lodge. RAL was formed in March 1996, by Michael Dumontier, Marcel Dzama, Neil Farber, Drue Langlois, Jonathan Pylypchuk, and Adrian Williams. All were students of the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg Canada, and would meet once a week to make collaborative drawings. By 2003, only Michael, Marcel, and Neil remained, and their focus turned to small-scale collaborative painting. The Royal Art Lodge’s retrospective exhibition “Ask the Dust” toured widely in 2003. More recently, Dzama designed a set of cards for a fantastical game invented by McSweeney’s and given away as a gift to lifetime subscribers.

But these are just three whose work is showing. The list is long and time is short. Go take a peak.

“Second Annual Print Show" at Park Life Store Gallery, (220 Clement Street), runs through Feb 20th. Monday through Friday, 10am - 6pm, Saturdays from 10:30am – 5:30pm.