Painter John Waguespack channels free spirit

COURTESY JOHN WAGUESPACK/ROCHA ARTJohn Waguespack’s 48-inch painting “Koi” is among the works on view in “Channeling the Dionysian” at Rocha Art.

COURTESY JOHN WAGUESPACK/ROCHA ARTJohn Waguespack’s 48-inch painting “Koi” is among the works on view in “Channeling the Dionysian” at Rocha Art.

In creating the paintings for his new solo show at Rocha Art gallery, San Francisco artist John Waguespack took a new tack: He cleared his consciousness and connected to his spirit.

“It's about trusting the inner gut, and getting over yourself and your thoughts,” he says, describing why he named the show “Channeling the Dionsysian,” based on the ancient Greek concept exploring the dichotomy between the god Apollo, who represents order, and Dionysus, who represents chaos.

It wasn't an easy process: “To reach that Zen-like state of clearing the mind, to get to that space, it's very hard to do,” he says, adding that his goal was to tap into “organic, creative, unfiltered expression” – something he finds missing from a lot of contemporary art.

The 25 colorful paintings in the show – all in ink, oil or acrylic (or combinations of those materials ) on large panels of birch wood – beautifully represent his evolution over a period of six months of intense work, sometimes as much as 18 hours a day, six days a week.

On the left side of the gallery are the more Apollonian pieces he worked on at the beginning of his process. They're straight, linear and inspired by real things, such as a calla lily, a blue hydrangea, or tulips.

On the right side are the more Dionysian paintings he made without a plan, even using forces of nature. Often working on many pieces at the same time in his Potrero Hill studio, he put wood panels on the floor, poured water, oil or acrylic on them, let the wind blow the liquid around, and then let the pieces bake in the sun. The layering process took as long as three months, he says, adding, “The more patient you are, the more beautiful it becomes.”

To make the luminous 48-inch oil painting called “Koi,” which indeed resembles a koi pond, he randomly placed found round objects such as CDs, bottle caps and washers on the panel, and let the layered colors absorb around the shapes.

He also emphasizes in nature by using color in a way that emphasizes and exposes the grain of the wood.

Pleased with how his paintings are varied – (“I've had people say, 'How many artists are in here?'” while looking at the show, he says) – Waguespack also feels positive about the proliferation of visual imagery and technology today: “There is so much amazing stuff all around. Every day I see so much beauty in the world,” he says.


Channeling the Dionysian

Where: Rocha Art, 466 Brannan St., S.F.

When: 1 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays; closes May 15

Admission: Free

Contact: (415) 533-5758,

Art & MuseumsartsChanneling the DionysianJohn WaguespackRocha Art

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

Some people are concerned that University of California, San Francisco’s expansion at its Parnassus campus could cause an undesirable increase in the number of riders on Muni’s N-Judah line.<ins></ins>
Will UCSF’s $20 million pledge to SFMTA offset traffic woes?

An even more crowded N-Judah plus increased congestion ahead cause concern

A health care worker receives one of the first COVID-19 vaccine doses at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital on Tuesday Dec. 15, 2020. (Courtesy SFgov)
SF to open three large sites for COVID-19 vaccinations

Breed: ‘We need more doses. We are asking for more doses’

San Jose Sharks (pictured Feb. 15, 2020 vs. Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center) open the season on Monday against the St. Louis Blues in St. Louis. (Tribune News Service archive)
This week in Bay Area sports

A look at the upcoming major Bay Area sports events (schedules subject… Continue reading

Tongo Eisen-Martin, a Bernal Heights resident, named San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Tongo Eisen-Martin becomes San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate

Bernal Heights resident Tongo Eisen-Martin has become San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate.… Continue reading

Homeless people's tents can be seen on Golden Gate Avenue in the Tenderloin on Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 16, 2020. (Photo by Ekevara Kitpowsong/S.F. Examiner)
Statewide business tax could bring new funds to combat homelessness

San Francisco could get more than $100 million a year for housing, rental assistance, shelter beds

Most Read