What happens when two Bay Area born-and-raised artists, who happen to be service industry professionals, agree to open a gallery for contemporary art? They make something a lot like the new art gallery House of Seiko at 3109 22nd Street. Co-owner Cole Solinger, who is from the South Bay and attended Saint Ignatius in the Sunset, is a visual artist and has worked as a curator for many years. Meanwhile, fellow co-owner Nick Torres is a founder and beverage director of Buddy and True Laurel, but was a practicing artist years ago and previously worked as an art handler at SFMOMA. “When I opened Buddy, I looked forward to that rotating art realm, in a food space,” Torres says. “I wanted to bring back the cafe and bar space as a safe space, and as a place artists would look forward to exhibiting at.”
The gallery, just two doors down from Buddy, will provide six- to seven-week exhibitions of solo displays by a single artist or artists who are in conversation with each other. The emerging and established artists will have their work shown in the gallery, though the curation will have an eye toward accentuating the aesthetic at Buddy. For refreshments, you’ll still have to go to Buddy for a drink or bite. “Buddy was always a place to accentuate art in a new space,” Solinger says. “Now Buddy is like an annex of House of Seiko and the two will coordinate space.”
Solinger, who side hustles as an art handler as well, ran art gallery Delaplane for about three years, across the street from where Bar Part Time is now on 14th Street. Torres came by one of the shows and asked Solinger to curate art at Buddy, and the two later began to brainstorm about acquiring a place together. Now, their gallery will be open three days a week, Friday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., but when there are events at Buddy, the art side may stay open a bit later. The 350-square-foot space is just right for showing off art: concrete floor and white walls, classic gallery stuff. The first show is a presentation of eight artists with connections to the Bay Area.
The first curated show “Cardinal Index” debuted at House of Seiko on Saturday, January 14 and, accordingly, there was a function at Buddy. Wine releases, pop-ups, and community events will show up in both spaces, too. The hope is to have the two function as one-in-the-same — there’s a loyal community at Buddy that Torres and Solinger hope will become familiar with House of Seiko. “Buddy will always be there as the neighbor,” Solinger says. “But as places to go and experience artwork in a less institutional setting close, we want this place to be open to everybody and operate with equity.”
As a San Francisco ride-or-die, Torres says art in San Francisco is mighty important. “Artists come to San Francisco and it’s always been a hard place to sell work,” Torres says. “But it’s always been a safe and accommodating place to make art and I feel like San Francisco needs more of that.”
House of Seiko (3109 22nd Street) opened Saturday, January 14, and will be open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday through Sunday or by private appointment.