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Clar de Mayo: On the Record

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Clar de Mayo: On the Record

A few nights ago I was invited to an art show last minute, I debated on going due to how many art events I had already seen this past week. First was Art Market at Fort Mason on Thursday, then “Combine” at Blackbird Bar on Saturday, then SFMOMA’s member preview on Sunday. All of the exhibits were great, but most of the art I felt I had seen so many times before, just in different venues, or travelling exhibitions when I had traveled abroad. ‘Clar De Mayo’ was different, it was fresh and gritty all at the same time.


While most of the people in the city were out celebrating Cinco de Mayo, Clar Ni Chonnil was selling most of her art at Everyday skate shop, where “all day, every day, the underground is underground.” – Owner Johnny Roughness. Clar was born in County Carlow, Ireland, and moved to SF in 1999.  Since moving here to SF, Clar works as a hairstylist at Orange salon in the Mission, for her main occupation, but has always been inspired by art and patterns. I asked her why she chose geometric shapes and her reply was, “I don’t like the question, what inspires you, what I paint is just a natural thing, like some people draw trees. I like the colors because they are bright and alive.”

I asked her how she came about painting, since she claimed she wasn’t formally trained, she said, “I have always painted or done something creative, once you do, you can’t not. It was last year, Jan.1st and I found a box of records outside my place someone left on the sidewalk. It was a new beginning of a new year and I wanted to start to do something fresh and I was too broke to buy art supplies like canvas or board, so I started to paint on the Vinyl. I don’t even know who are the artists whose vinyl I painted on, I just needed something to paint on. Then I used some 45’s, and moved on to CD’s. After I got going, I began to use board and panel.”


One of the things I liked most about the show was that it was Clar’s very first art opening showcase, and how she came about getting it.   Johnny Roughness, one of her friends, stopped by her house last November, and said, “hey I like your work, I wanna show it” and he did, 6 months later.  She didn’t start to create because someone asked her to, nor did she paint one day and put it down and lose interest, or lose the original thought and, as a result, paint something completely different.  Clar Ni Chonnil painted because she, personally, had to.

Many artists are not aware of the advantages of creating art that is coherently placed next to more similarly themed work.  Too much variety can confuse the viewer, yet too much of the same, can bore the viewer.  Clar’s cohesive body of artwork expressed to me that she knew herself, and this is what added to the impact of the show. What I also really liked was, that the show was in a downtown skate shop, union square area, and the crowd was such a mixture of people, from all neighborhoods in SF, no pretense, and the owners were humble, not jerks (like a few gallery owners in the city can be).  Then, I found out that one of the owners sponsors a bunch of skateboarders!  Great place, great company, great time, and great art, can be found at 936 Geary, Everyday skate shop, every first Thursday. If you would like to contact the artist for prices or more information, you may reach her at


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Marilyn Jones - MarilynSF

Marilyn Jones - MarilynSF

Marilyn Jones is an independent curator and worked for Blackbird Bar for 2 years as their sole curator and at the former Triple Crown Night Club, now called Rebel. Graduated from SFSU in 2001 with BA in Art History, worked at Vorpal Gallery and Weinstein Gallery as an office monkey, and Franklin Bowles Art Gallery as an Art Consultant.