The Art of Avrum Rubenstein

I guess it all started with a tweet. As I usually tweet art that I have for sale, occasionally I tweet about art that is in my own collection. A few months ago I tweeted about one of my favorite paintings by Avrum Rubenstein. Soon after, I received a tweet back from Avrum's daughter Sarah. Sarah was so gracious to invite me to her home and look through her father's work. I picked a few of my favorites and they are now available on my site under Curated Collection.

His Story

Avrum Rubenstein (1918-1995)

He was born in Eugene, Oregon in 1918 of Russian Jewish parents.  They moved to Vallejo, CA when he was a kid, and thereafter to San Francisco, where he grew up in the Western Addition.

He was a completely self taught painter, potter, sculptor, lithographer, etc.

He went to Lowell High School in San Francisco, and UC Berkeley, where he majored in math.  He did various jobs - taught high school math, worked as a ceramicist at Heath Pottery and California Faience Pottery, and taught art, but mostly he was an artist selling at fairs and festivals around San Francisco and Marin.  He hung out with a lot of the old North Beach denizens and started a gallery in North Beach with two other artists in the 1950s called The Scene Gallery, located on Grant Avenue in SF.  He sold paintings, lithographs, sculpture, pottery and jewelry - all made by him - from the Gallery for almost 40 years. In the 70s he opened a store next door to the Scene called the Shlock Shop.  He'd always been a collector of various ephemera, and used the Shlock Shop to sell it - collectibles, antiques, hats, etc.  The Gallery remained open throughout that time, but the hours were 8-11 p.m.  He mostly did pottery in the 60s and 70s, and lived off of his art (ah, the good old days of San Francisco where one could live on air!) Toward the end of his life, Mr. Rubenstein commenced a furious schedule of painting, resulting in several themed shows - “Horses”, “Nudes”, and “Jazz” - through the 80’s and 90’s. His final series - a huge array of self portraits, in which he always sported the hats for which the Shlock Shop became so famous - reflected a realization that his life, like the 20th Century, was coming to an end. He died in 1995.

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