Client Spotlight: Richard Diebenkorn

Residents of the counties that form the San Francisco Bay Area carry with them a unique and entirely personal perspective of their surroundings. As a roofing contractor working within each of these counties, I am fortunate to not only meet with these residents and hear their stories, but to also see a glimpse of the Bay Area through their eyes.

Recently, Wedge Roofing completed a historic roof restoration of a 19th century home in Sonoma County. From the beginning, this project had stood out to me as being unique, both for the incredible care with which the homeowner looked after her historic home, and for her unique surname, Diebenkorn.

As the project neared completion, I realized our client was in fact the widow of the renowned abstractionist painter and Bay Area resident, Richard Diebenkorn. During the 1950’s, Diebenkorn rose to prominence in the art world for his rhythmic, colorful and incredibly personal abstractionist compositions. Following a move to Berkeley in 1953, he turned to the natural beauty of the San Francisco Bay Area for inspiration. The resulting compositions, which proved to be the most memorable and lasting of his career, formed a collection known as “The Berkeley Years.”

Coincidentally, as Wedge Roofing completed the roof restoration of the Diebenkorn home, the De Young Museum in San Francisco launched an exhibit honoring the artist’s work, specifically the pieces produced during “The Berkeley Years.” I was curious to see how he had interpreted a world I inhabited daily, and saw in this exhibit an opportunity to glimpse into the Bay Area as known by Richard Diebenkorn.

Walking through the exhibit, I initially felt a sense of disconnect and confusion as to how Diebenkorn’s pieces related to the San Francisco Bay Area. It wasn’t until my second walkthrough that I saw, or rather felt, the geographic connection each piece created.

Through the use of color, texture and layout, Diebenkorn captures the natural rhythm unique to the different locations represented in his work. Even though his colors and textures never form literal representations of what we see in our day-to-day, they instead act as visual guides, leading viewers through their unique relationship with the landscapes and cities that make up the Bay Area.

By omitting obvious visual references or cues, Diebenkorn asks his viewers not to just see the Bay Area but to feel the organic emotion and energy that makes the San Francisco Bay Area such a vibrant and unique place. – Ralph Wedge

Diebenkorn - Seawall

“Seawall” by Richard Diebenkorn

Diebenkorn - The Errand of the Eye

Portrait of Richard Diebenkorn in his studio by Rose Mandel.