Tom Gehrig (b. 1948, Oakland, California) is a San Francisco Bay Area artist whose work is influenced by many genres that include the Tonalist School of California landscape painting, as well as more recent developments such as performance and conceptual art.
Tom received a B.A. (1971) at the California College of the Arts where he studied painting with Arthur Okamura, Peter Shoemaker and Robert Bechtle. He received an M.F.A. (1973) in Intermedia from Mills College, where he worked closely with electronic music composer Robert Ashley. It was this experience that opened the door to experimentation with collage, surreal imagery, theater and performance art.
As a young emerging artist in the 1970's, Gehrig was immersed in the conceptual art movement in the San Francisco Bay Area and created many installation and performance pieces. These works included Objects & Theater (1976, 80 Langton Street) and The Voice from the Sea (1977, Oberlin Dance Collective Performance Gallery). In the early 1980's Gehrig decided to work primarily on canvas, combining painting with mixed media elements. Staying true to his performance art roots, Gehrig utilizes the canvas as "theatrical stages", narrated through the landscapes and multi-layered objects.
Collected throughout the world, Gehrig’s work is also featured in the esteemed collections of the di Rosa Collection of Contemporary California Art in Napa California, the Alan Mandell Collection in New York and Los Angeles, and the Kaiser Foundation Hospitals in Santa Rosa and San Rafael, California. With multiple prestigious awards punctuating his career, Gehrig is also a recipient of an Individual Artists Grant from the Marin Arts Council.
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"Each composition begins by painting a place, real or imagined. The landscapes are treated as a stage for an evolving narrative, including the evidence of human interference. Initially my work may look surreal, however it's not fantastical. The compositions actually begin to reveal the oddness of reality itself. These “happenings” could actually take place." - Tom Gehrig