George Krevsky, gallery owner 20 years
San Francisco Chronicle
Published 6:06 pm, Sunday, December 23, 2012
George Krevsky opened his namesake gallery in San Francisco's Union Square in 1992 with a retrospective exhibition of Thomas Hart Benton lithographs. Now the gallerist, who specializes in 20th century American art, is celebrating two decades in business. His philosophy remains: "Don't buy art as an investment; buy art that you love and that speaks to you, and the rest will come."
Q: How did you get into the business?
A: I spent the first 15 years of my career as a social worker in a Jewish community center in Fort Worth, Texas. I was organizing art exhibitions to raise money for the nonprofit. My first show was with Henry Hopkins, who ended up being the director of SFMOMA. I didn't know how to hang a painting, and Henry helped me.
Q: What about the art world appealed to you?
A: I studied art at Penn State. One of my best friends was a novelist. My (now) ex-wife was - and is - a great artist. I knew I wanted to do something creative with my life. When I was in New York working on my master's degree in social work, I had met (gallerists) Bella Fishko and Leo Castelli, and I met Andy Warhol.
Q: Tell me about meeting Warhol.
A: I was writing my thesis, and it was really cold in my apartment. I went around the corner for coffee, and I saw this guy with white hair sitting in a storefront showing a movie called "Sleep." It was a 16mm film of a woman sleeping. There were folding chairs, so I paid my 2 bucks and sat down. I watched two minutes and said, "I don't get it." Andy was already pretty famous, but he wasn't famous to me.
Q: What brought you to San Francisco?
A: I was recruited to come here to be the director of the Brotherhood Way Community Center in 1972. I did that until about '77. I then produced theater, and worked part time at the Nathan Gallery on Union Street, eventually finding a way to open my own gallery.
Q: What's the best part about your job, and what's the worst part?
A: Barbra Streisand has a great song, "Bit by bit, putting it together ..." that I love. I love putting it all together, all the pieces, the art. An artist's work is not finished until someone responds to it. My canvas is the four walls of the gallery. And I stand in awe of what the artists do. The bad part is to tell an artist that you can't use his painting, or to have a show that you stand behind but that no one responds to.
Q: Any particular artworks you passed up that you wish you hadn't?
A: A portfolio of 10 prints of Andy Warhol was offered to me in 1979 for $5,000. I had no money at the time.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I grew up in Harrisburg, Pa. My dad was a businessman and my mom was president of the school board. There were five of us kids.
Q: What did you want to be?
A: I wanted to play first base for the Philadelphia A's. I was good in the field, but not good at bat. I love the game.
Q: First job?
A: I was a caddie at a country club. It made me understand I would never be a golfer. The game was too frustrating. I felt ... that it was "a good walk ruined."
Q: Where do you live?
A: We live in Rockridge, Oakland. I've been married for 31 or 32 years (we lived in sin for a period). I have a daughter, Shani, from my first marriage. I'm still good friends with my ex-wife. When all of the girls get together, I know I'm in trouble.
Q: Neighborhood hangout?
A: In Oakland, it's Oliveto's. In San Francisco, North Beach. I like City Lights. My favorite spot in the entire world is Crissy Field, looking out at the Golden Gate Bridge. I could sit there for a month.
Q: What do you have up on the walls of your home?
A: Manuel Neri. Lichtenstein. Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Mary Robertson. Jack Levine.
Q: What artworks would you buy if you could?
A: A Pissarro oil painting. A Lichtenstein sculpture.
Q: Any plans to retire?
A: No, I'm not going to retire. I'm just going to change the direction of what I do. I have a lot of energy, and I love the art world.
Julian Guthrie is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: email@example.com Twitter: @JulianGuthrie
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/art/article/George-Krevsky-gallery-owner-20-years-4142463.php#ixzz2H29W8tnm