Sunday, April 21, 2024

Trina Robbins August 17, 1938 – April 10, 2024

I’ve struggled for some days thinking about what to write about Trina, how to write about Trina.


I find looking at other tributes and memorials (in print and on social media) that I’m not alone in that. 


Trina’s impact on people has been significant.  As a cartoonist, 


as a “herstorian” of culture, 

but also through her individual engagement and attention. She could be blunt, challenging and supportive all at the same time.


Trina was a part of my youthful days as a cartoonist in San Francisco during the “Underground’ comix scene. 


Hector Tellez, Trina and me

                                                (Photo copyright Clay Geerdes Archives. Courtesy of David Miller)


Cartoonists back in the late ‘60’s early ‘70’s, often shared living spaces (It wasn’t that easy to get by in those days, with the current realities of the City I can only image how difficult it is now).  I bounced around the Mission district in this manner and wound up sharing a flat with Trina along with cartoonists Leslie Cabarga and Sharon Rudahl.  


             Flyer drawn by Sharon Rudahl, me, Leslie Cabarga and Trina           announcing our move from Guerrero Street to 15th Street circa 1975

As a young cartoonist, living with that crew was a good education. We spent a lot of time hunched over drawing boards in our respective studio-bedrooms. We took turns making dinner and doing house chores. 


It was just a couple of years or so, but Trina’s influence has stayed with me for decades. She was powerful, intense, idealistic-- and passionate about her work. She was also always curious and supportive of the creative work of others (that’s not alwaysa trait commonly found in artists). 


I attempted to keep up on the news of her illness and was readily accepting (perhaps otherwise known as denial) the reports that she was “improving”, largely because it aligned with my perception that she was a fighter and that she would rally.  Trina spent much of her life successfully fighting uphill battles, I’d hoped this would be another one. I think most people who knew her assumed she was destined to live to 100.

My condolences to Casey Robbins and Steve Leialoha.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Judy North: A Painter’s Book of Days

I organize art exhibits each month in the Maurice Del Mue Galleries of the San Geronimo Valley Community Center. Our most recent exhibit has been a knockout. A two-room exhibit of works by Judy North.


Photo by Donn DeAngelo

Valley artist, Judy North, studied painting at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles and at the San Francisco Art Institute in San Francisco.  She taught at Bennington College in Vermont, the University of California at Davis and the San Francisco Art Academy. She's exhibited widely.

The show titled “A Painter’s Book of Days” consists of one room of works spanning many years of her career and a second room of her most recent collage work. Here’s sampling:

“There Was a Young Man”

“Madame Mustache...She Summons the Wind”

It’s a large painting. This shot gives you a better sense of scale. 

“Madame Mustache..She Lives in Her Thoughts”

“Red Rider”



Here are a few of Judy’s dog portraits:


“Nelson and Freddie”


These collages are some of Judy’s most recent work:

“Ganesh & Sponge Bob, Removers of Obstacles"


“Ray Johnson”

“Just Right"


“Pretty Babies”

“In Full"

“Great Mother"

“Big Top”


“Wednesday Sidewalk"

“Winken, Bliken and Nod"

“Jade Emperor”



And here’s Judy’s artist statement:


These cautionary tales, perceptions, poems, meditations, and mysteries are my way of thinking in pictures. They are snapshots of my mind. I have long been involved with a common theme. A union of opposites. Even my painting techniques are involved with it. A quote that I have had pinned to the wall in my studio for years says: "The opposite of Love is not Hate, it is the persistent use of the rational mind."

There is a table in my studio piled high with hundreds of images that I have collected over time. The sum total becomes a giant tapestry. The pictures move, they collide, they exchange energy, they build and fall back. It is a table with multiple questions and answers. A collage will surface and start to take a shape of its own, maybe a face, perhaps a story, and it will become a painting. My rational mind has learned to relax. It will recognize the rightness of the vision.

I used to think that the power of transformation would turn the lights on in the human spirit, that our consciousness would heal the past and transform the world. When the Berlin Wall came down and the Cold war ended the world seemed to be headed in that direction. We seemed to be learning that communication and negotiation were powerful ways to solve our difficulties. The information highway was created to this end. Through it all, terrible events were brewing and they began to surface again, but our leaders weren't doing their homework, Instead of facing a situation which presents profound new challenges, they preferred to retreat into past feuds and delusions, giving us Ukraine and Israel Hamas, The Trump Administration, Fundamentalism, Murder, Mayhem and WAR.

I have had a wonderful life. I have a beautiful family. I have love and stability. I have dear friends and deep relationships. I live in a beautiful place. I am very aware of all that is positive in my life and am aware of the wider world where wisdom and ignorance whirl in their frenzied dance.

And on technique: I have developed a technique to give my paintings the dimension that is pertinent to al this. I want to enrich the various sides of my visual dialog. I come from a theatre and a glass background and have long been interested in the play between transparent light and opacity, between reflective surfaces and dull mat ones, the union of opposites at work. I love complex composition, intricate pattern and color because ti embraces the chaos of life and the order I try to bring to it.

I use liquid acrylics and the various mediums that allow for different drying times that I apply with squeeze bottles to build my images like a mosaic.

The reception

Monday, February 26, 2024

Barbara Lawrence and Sherry Petrini in the Maurice Del Mue Galleries

I’m still organizing art exhibits in the Maurice del Mue Galleries of the San Geronimo Valley Community Center, Marin County, every month.


For whatever reason, I‘ve become lax about posting those monthly shows on this blog. (We’ve had some really good ones in the last year).  To attempt to correct this a bit here’s what we’re currently showing: The work of Valley artists, Barbara Lawrence and Sherry Petrini.


                                                If this Chair Could Talk

Barbara Lawrence is an award-winning artist and teacher, working in pastels and oils, specializing in our local landscape and our natural and manmade environments. 


                                                              Red Hill

Barbara writes of her work “I started making art before understanding what I was doing. Art was just part of life since the beginning, watching my father make his living as an artist. As far back as I can remember, I only wanted one thing: be an artist too. Once I purely painted for beauty, serenity, and the love of nature, inspired and driven by these powers to put color on canvas. Over time, my reasons to paint have deepened.  I now not only attempt to capture the essence of the moment to share the changing qualities of the life and environment surrounding us, but I now also work as an historian, documenting this moment in time.”


                                                     Old St. Marys

Bumper Crop
(Aside from the admirable painting of chrome in the bumper, check out theself-portrait in the reflection)

  Barbara has an art studio/gallery in the Art Works Downtown building on Fourth Street in San Rafael.



Sherry Petrini, exhibiting in the Valley Room, received her MFA from the SF Art Institute. She’s exhibited in numerous shows with the Community Center including the annual Spring Art Show as well as other galleries and venues throughout the Bay Area. 

Staircase with Figure

Red Desk

Trumpet Player

Sherry writes of her work: "Trying to escape the bleakness of my early life and the restrictions caused by a serious disability from before memory, I create in my paintings environments where I can encounter the creative, rich life of the spirit. Without my consciously intending to do so, many of these recent works are set in Europe where I traveled many times in my young adulthood to assert my independence. I work quickly, delineating forms with simple lines. The pictures are also touched by the dilapidated charm of darkness and humor caused by the tension between aspiration and unavoidable accident".


Artwork copyrighted by the respective artists

Monday, February 19, 2024

RIP Fred ‘Lee’ Berensmeier

Photo by Donn DeAngelo

On January 29 of this year, we lost Fred ‘Lee’ Berensmeier, one of the most respected artists in the San Geronimo Valley art community in Marin County. I found Fred to be a soft-spoken gentleman who was always supportive of artists and their creative endeavors (not surprisingly he was a life-long teacher). He was 91 years old.

Fred was part of the San Geronimo Valley Community Center’s annual Spring Art Show from its beginnings (which pre-dates are ‘official” counting of 34 years) and the co-founder of the environmental education center, Wilderness Way, with his wife Jean who died on March 15, 2023. 

Fred was a master printmaker and served as head of the printmaking department at City College of San Francisco from 1968 to 1993. He was equally adept at linocuts, serigraphs and collographs often combining the different printmaking approaches and bending a lot of ostensible ‘rules’ along the way. 

He not only participated in our annual Spring Art Shows, our annual printmaking shows and numerous solos exhibits but exhibited nationally and internationally at venues such as the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum, the Brandts Klaedefabrik Museum, Denmark, the DeYoung and the Smithsonian.

To honor his life and work the Center will host a memorial exhibit of Fred’s work in the first week of May, just preceding the Spring Art Show. This brief exhibit will conclude with a memorial service that weekend on Saturday, May 4that the Center.