At Romer Young Gallery, Joey Piziali and Vanessa Blaikie share a curatorial vision. A secluded spot behind the gallery’s office serves as his art studio.
Raised in Stanford by an engineer father and an artist mother, Joey Piziali had a clear inclination for one of the disciplines at a young age. “My earliest memory of making art was in the second grade at Nixon Elementary School,” he says. “Our class was asked to draw a picture for a local SPCA. My drawing ended up being selected for the ad. It gave me such a great sense of pride that I just stuck with it.”
After graduating from Palo Alto High School, Piziali studied advertising at the University of Colorado Boulder. He eventually made his way back to art and the Bay Area. “I had the good fortune of going to see an exhibition at the Smith Andersen gallery in Palo Alto, which is run by the legendary Paula Kirkeby,” he recalls. Upon learning that he was an artist, she told him to return the next day with his portfolio. Kirkeby gave Piziali his first solo show in 2003—the same year he enrolled in the MFA program at the San Francisco Art Institute, where he met his wife, Vanessa Blaikie.
Piziali has exhibited throughout the Bay Area, as well as in Los Angeles, New York and Singapore. “I’m basically an abstractionist,” he says. “I wrestle with the elemental ideas around composition, color and balance.” His work is in the permanent collection at Santa Clara University’s de Saisset Museum, and the cities of Palo Alto and San Jose have commissioned him to create murals.
In 2010, he and Blaikie launched Romer Young Gallery; the moniker is a combination of their mothers’ maiden names. Now through April 2, ceramics by Erik Scollon are on display. “Somehow, he is able to mash up queer politics, sexual politics, the history of art versus craft, formalism, humor and heartbreak,” observes Piziali. After Scollon, on April 8, the gallery will open a show with Joseph Hart, whose works, says Piziali, “are an incredible accumulation of provisional and exploratory marks that seem at once impulsive, but are simultaneously littered with subtle art historical riffs.”
Scollon and Hart illustrate the range of artists that Piziali and Blaikie represent. “People often ask if it’s difficult to agree on artists we want to work with,” he says. “Amazingly, it has always been an incredibly seamless and intuitive process.”
Romer Young Gallery, 1240 22nd St., San Francisco, 415.550.7483.
Originally published in the March issue of Silicon Valley