At some point, we all get to have at least one horrible job. Most of us end up with a few. If you have only had good jobs, count yourself lucky. Hopefully all my bad jobs are in the past. In the early 1990s, when I first arrived in San Francisco, I ended up working for a small company in the financial district. The firm was very small at first and had all the hallmarks of dysfunctional family, with the name partners being the parents, we had an eccentric “aunt” and there was me stuck in the middle between two, let’s say erratic, personalities. In the seven years I worked there, the company grew and the stress and tension escalated in the office. The best I could say was, at least I was not in the New York office. After I left, I did a bit of temping and was stunned by how accustomed I had become to working in such a toxic environment. The various downtown offices I ended up temping in, with few exceptions, were decent places and far more relaxed and, dare I say, normal.
I still do not know how I lasted for seven years. But one thing that I liked about the job was one of the partners was a serious art collector with a very good eye. When we rearranged the art, we were always encouraged to select pieces we liked for our offices and work areas. My favorite piece was a beautiful painting of a big orange chair by Raimonds Staprans. I spent most of those seven years next to that painting. It was my workmate, my companion and it helped keep me sane. A second Staprans hung above the copy machine. When I was occasionally chained to that machine, I had a view of some calm, blue boats. He painted many chairs, the painting featured in the exhibit (show here) is a different one.
Twenty years later, I finally had an opportunity, my very first, to see a retrospective of Staprans work. Full Spectrum: Paintings by Raimonds Staprans has been up all summer at Sacramento’s Crocker Art Museum. Galleries filled with his stunning, vibrant paintings that show Staprans is a genius with light and color. The work can appear deceptively simple at first glance but his paintings are far more complicated. And while examples can be found online and in books, no photo or jpeg can possibly do justice to Staprans’ paintings. At over 90 years old, it is time that his work gets even more recognition and needs to be exhibited even more. I am grateful that the Crocker Museum has put on this exhibit, but it is mind boggling that he has not been given more museum shows in the Bay Area. I believe the only other California museums to feature his work so far are San Jose and Pasadena.
If ever I get to meet Mr. Staprans in person, I will be sure to thank him for helping me survive office hell.