From the outer edges of San Francisco, a cluster of artisans create art and objects the old-fashioned way: by hand.
Just a few blocks off the not-for-amateurs surf break at Ocean Beach, Eric Rewitzer and Annie Galvin potter about cutting out posters that display a custom literary map of the state for California Bookstore Day. It’s just another afternoon of producing work that pays homage to the happy dream of California: sunshine and poppies, grizzly bears, the never-ending highway. Here, in the normally foggy reaches of the Outer Sunset, the couple have turned a former liquor store into a vibrant retail, studio and teaching space, filled with Galvin’s paintings of bears hugging the Sunshine State against different Technicolor backgrounds, and Rewitzer’s relief prints of Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge—done by hand-carving into large slabs of linoleum. On the weekends, Rewitzer teaches printmaking classes, and there is a steady stream of commissions and customers, who often stop in the backyard to knock back a pint from the very S.F.-style “keggerator” or sit at their custom picnic table, crafted in the shape of the state.
Before 2007, both artists were slaving away in a different milieu. Tech and banking refugees who made a prodigal return to their early callings, motorcycle rider and Irishwoman Galvin studied art in her homeland, and Michigan native Rewitzer spent his early years as a journeyman stripper—someone who strips film in a commercial color shop. A few forays into selling the work they made at nights and on weekends made them realize that they had a chance to pursue art full time. “I always kind of dangled the carrot in front of my nose saying that when I was 40 that’s when I could be an artist,” says Rewitzer. So he bought screen-printing equipment, then an etching press and fell in love with relief printmaking.
Nearly seven years later, 3 Fish Studios brings in tourists from Japan and Texas and serves as a hub for this vibrant artistic community. “I think people are here because it is really mellow and it is beautiful,” says Rewitzer pensively. And the two continue to innovate: Rewitzer sees his work heading toward larger format, thanks to the new 48-inch press they recently purchased (one of the largest in the city), and Galvin is working on expanding her quirky bear-themed images to other states for a complete collection. “There might be some weird states, like Delaware,” she says and laughs. But it’s always something new. Rewitzer beams. “I wasn’t born in California, but I was reborn in California.” 3fishstudios.com.
5 HOT SPOTS FROM 3 FISH STUDIOS
- Trouble Coffee has the best cinnamon toast in the world, and their coffee is pretty great too. People come from all over the city to get into Trouble!
- Cajun Pacific is only open a few nights a week and it’s tiny, but when you can get in there for dinner, it’s well worth it. Don’t miss the crawfish pasta, and save room for the bourbon bread pudding.
- Don’t skip Mollusk Surf Shop just because you don’t surf. They also carry their own line of screen-printed T-shirts for children and adults, and some hard-to-find books and magazines on California art and surf culture.
- Andytown Coffee Roasters is brand new and already loved by the locals. Their version of iced coffee, called the Snowy Plover, is amazing.
- The General Store carries a beautifully curated collection of gifts, cards, leather goods and clothing by independent designers. Their lovely garden is filled with happy succulents and was an inspiration for our studio garden.
Written and edited by Elizabeth Khuri Chandler.
PHOTOS: Thayer Gowdy.