Painter Stanley Goldstein imbues everyday scenes with mystery

Though some describe his work as photorealism, San Francisco artist Stanley Goldstein likes to call it “perceptual.”

“It’s about walking around the world and seeing something that intrigues me, something I have questions about,” says the longtime painter, who welcomes visitors to Hunters Point at San Francisco Open Studios this weekend (the first of four, representing some 700 artists across The City, which run through Nov. 6).

Mostly working in oil on canvas, Goldstein depicts daily life — people sitting at tables at their homes, or walking down city streets – but with a sense of drama. He says he paints “everyday experience that I charge with a little bit of mystery.”

He’s pleased with his current project: a picture of a group of boys playing football in a park, at night — a mixture of exotic (it’s dark) and domestic (there are homes around).

Goldstein, who grew up in Los Angeles, got a bachelor of arts from UC Santa Barbara’s College of Creative Studies (“a little graduate school for undergraduates”) in 1976, where he did “a lot of painting.” In the mid-70s, he did a tutorial in London with Los Angeles expressionist Martin Lubner.

After college, his plan was to go to New York, but he came to San Francisco, first, as a “warm up city.”

“I never left. Things worked out, I just loved it here,” says the 20-year resident of the Richmond, who lived in the Haight his first 16 years in The City (and worked out of his apartment studio, which didn’t please his landlord).

He also got involved in other pursuits: He was a waiter at the cutting-edge Zuni Café, and on the artistic side, worked with postmodern choreographer Margaret Jenkins and the theater group Z Collective (now Z Space).

He sees connections between performing and visual art, calling both “endeavors that involve patience, experience, a little bit of inspiration, and knowledge of the craft.”

And in his paintings, he says, “There’s a sense of drama, a sense that things are happening on a stage.”

His work was the subject of a successful 2011 exhibition at Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara, and until last year, he was represented by various galleries.

Although he never went to graduate school (“I was painting all those years”), he taught painting at City College of San Francisco and the San Francisco Art Institute in the 1990s. Today, he teaches privately.

Goldstein, who came to Hunters Point in 1987, is among the studios’ many longtime residents.

Enjoying his own space as well as “a nice community of people you can talk to if you want to,” Goldstein also is thankful for the people doing the work to keep the studios viable for artists: “We’re grandfathered in here in spite of all this development.”

SF Open Studios Weekend 1
Where: Hunters Point Shipyard and Islais Creek, Innes Avenue and Donahue Street, S.F.
When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 15-16
Admission: Free
Note: Goldstein is in Building 101, Studio 2310.


Weekend 2: Oct. 21-22 at Fort Mason, Marina, Pacific Heights, Russian Hill, North Beach, Downtown, Tenderloin, MIDMA, SOMA, Western Addition, NOPA, Hayes Valley, Lower Haight, Potrero Hill, Dogpatch, Bayview.

Weekend 3: Oct. 29-30 in the Presidio, Richmond, Upper Haight, Buena Vista, Cole Valley, Sunset, Ocean View, West Portal, Portola, Excelsior, Balboa Park.

Weekend 4: Nov. 5-6 in the Mission, Castro, Bernal Heights, Noe Valley, Upper Market, Glen Park.

Leslie Katz

San Francisco Examiner’s arts and entertainment editor Leslie Katz has been assigning, editing and/or writing news stories about the Bay Area’s rich cultural scene since 1997. Reach her at (415) 359-2727 or

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