Jan 31, 2015


Maybe 10 years ago, I was approached by a thin, tight-lipped man at an open studio. Russell left me his card, and I visited his shop in Hayes Valley, San Francisco. Zonal was crowded with suede sofas and funky furniture rescued from midwest homes, and on one wall he had an impressive collection of Canadian mountie figures that he refused to sell.
It was the start of an amazing partnership. Over the years, I would pull up and double park with a carload of panels, which always seemed to attract every meter maid in the City. If I could find parking and linger a bit after unloading, Russell always wanted to know about my kids, and he'd give me updates on his "mini-me" nephew up in Canada. When my son moved to Boston, Russell gave him a warm wool coat from his own closet.
Many times when Russell would hand me a check for a sale, it would be just enough to cover some big bill that was looming. And if one of Russell's collectors came and bought from me directly, I'd write Russell a check, and more often than not he'd say, "This will help with the rent." There almost seemed a kind of holiness about the transactions.
Last Valentines Day, Russell asked me to do a solo show of all types of couples. It was a stretch for me, but I was pretty happy with the results, and the sales were amazing. Just in time, too--I spent Feb 14, 2014, in the hospital, and my bill was neatly covered by the Zonal show.
Zonal closed its doors last week. I double parked one last time on Hayes Street and loaded 30 paintings into the back, gave Russell a hug on the curb, and pulled back onto the Bay Bridge. Russell, you are one of a kind. You will be very missed.
To read more, go to http://hoodline.com/2015/01/after-24-years-zonal-will-close-its-doors-this-month

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