For most of us, nothing beats hanging with fellow creatives who have a zest for expression, an eye for the strange, and a passion for play. Hence my excitement to kick it with San Francisco-based artist Jenny Sharaf, whose energetic paint work is almost as vibrant as her contagious enthusiasm for life, design, and love of John Baldessari. Almost.
When we meet up in the Inner Richmond Jenny’s immediately excited to show me one of her favorite shops (Park Life) while diving into a story about a recent – and rather serendipitous – run-in with Baldessari at The Met in New York. Yes, it ended with a hug from the iconic LA artist. Yes, she was ecstatic. And yes, it’s the kind of story that makes Jenny one of the most approachable artists you’ll ever meet. Once we dive into our short interview over coffee, we laugh through topics ranging from her reinspired love for fashion (“Gucci’s maximalism is pretty fucking amazing right now!”), lessons learned from Rihanna’s Instagram, her love of bright yellow (“It’s the happiest of the colors!”), to the near-exhaustive amount of work she’s generating across all channels and genres.
Her colorful form of abstraction ebbs and flows across numerous mediums like Technicolor lava, whether on vintage photos, Market Street murals, or the back of a beat up denim jacket. She’s recently created a site-specific mural for the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs. But the busyness is what keeps her going. “If I don’t make work, I go crazy,” she says with a smile. “Painting is the true meditation in my life, where I lose track of time and space.” Jenny is originally from LA, but her heart and soul are at rest amidst the fog banks of San Francisco’s unique art scene. In the years since finishing her MFA at Mills, she’s swirled and splashed her colorations with a mission to not just grow as a radical feminist artist inspired by the likes of Helen Frankenthaler and Joan Mitchell, but also celebrate the unique Bay Area scene that’s making fresh waves in the art world. “Art here is rad, and it holds its own with other cities,” she adds enthusiastically. “Even though we don’t have counterculture, there’s still pockets of cool creative stories going on all over.”
Jenny is a breath of fresh, perfectly weird air for our startup tech and pouty-face social media days. She makes me realize we really do live in an inspired time for both artists and enthusiasts. “I feel like the role of the artist is changing right now. It feels like it has energy, and artists are getting more attention,” says Jenny. “Someone that’s making content trumps someone that’s just pretty. And that’s amazing. Thank god for this time!” Hopefully somewhere John Baldessari is reading this and nodding sagely.