Author Archive

HNL-SFO Castaways

Maureen Debreé, Ethan Estess and Mark Cunningham.

ReceptionOctober 15th 6-9pm
October 12th – November 14th 2022

Back Wall Installation

The Great Highway gallery is excited to present HNL-SFO/Castaways, Installation, rope panels and assemblage from Maureen Debreé, Ethan Estess and Mark Cunningham. Sponsored by Head High wines. A portion of the proceeds from the exhibit will be donated to the San Francisco Surfrider Foundation –

What does it mean to make a living off of the sea? Many will conjure an image of a salty old fisherman hauling a net full of fish, however, artists Mark Cunningham and Ethan Estess have redefined this traditional notion with their unique life paths. After a storied career lifeguarding in Hawaii, Mark began beachcombing and snorkeling to collect lost objects from what he’s dubbed the “Shorepound Lost and Found”. Surfboard fins, wrist watches, hotel room cards – the material is endless and so is Mark’s creativity for assembling objects that juxtapose the beauty of natural coralline algae growth with forgotten plastic forms.

Window Installation

Ethan jokes that Mark is the only person he knows who “likes” marine debris as much as he does. Estess left his career as a marine biologist studying tuna and shark ecology with the Monterey Bay Aquarium to focus on using reclaimed fishing rope and other materials to create sculptural works that tell stories about the ocean. He made this series of artworks predominately from fishing rope collected off the beaches of Oahu by a local nonprofit called Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii. Having become good friends through their love of surfing and mutual support of the Kokua Hawaii Foundation, Surfrider Foundation, HNL-SFO/Castaways highlights Cunningham and Estess’ simpatico styles, and their shared commitment to protecting ocean life. If their works could be collectively summarized, they both elevate mundane, environmentally harmful material into artworks that are worthy to bring into one’s home as daily reminders that our consumer choices have impacts on the sea.

About Ethan Estess
Ethan Estess (b. 1989) is an artist and marine scientist who communicates about the challenges facing the ocean through sculpture and printmaking. He travelled extensively during his career as a marine biologist and now draws on these experiences to inspire his creative works. He holds M.S. and B.S. degrees in environmental science from Stanford University where he studied oceanography, mechanical engineering, and studio art. Estess has participated in several art residencies, including the Recology program at the San Francisco landfill where he constructed a life-size whale tail sculpture from reclaimed rope that was later displayed for millions of viewers at the
San Francisco international airport. His artworks are currently exhibited in North America, Europe, and Japan, and he has created installations for the Bishop and J. Paul Getty Museums. In recent years, Estess has collaborated with several nonprofit groups to build multiple monumental wave sculptures from ocean trash that have reached millions of viewers with a message of ocean stewardship.

About Mark Cunningham
Made in Hawaii, born in Massachusetts, Mark Cunningham has been in love with the ocean and surf for over 60 years. A retired City & County of Honolulu Lifeguard he still spends a great deal of his time on the beach and in the water. As much as Mark loves to ride waves he’s just as intrigued with what lies beneath them. When the conditions allow, he dons mask, fins and snorkel and makes the most out of exploring and scavenging reefs and impact zones for exercise and treasure. Beachcombing between Mkapuu and Kahuku on Oahu’s Winward shoreline, has proivided most of the wood for the pieces.

You may be looking around and wondering… “treasure”? Yes, everyman’s treasure will be defined in a different and unique manner and for Mark, these pieces represent a life, a story and an adventure: the remains of a wipeout, a tale floated from miles away, the shiny and the new becoming corroded and encrusted, and the inevitable passage of time.

Artist Links

Bargain With The Devil

Katie Murken

Reception Saturday, September 10 6-9pm
through October 9

Live Jazz with Pete Stanwood duo 

Bargain With The Devil, Katie Murken’s window installation at The Great Highway Gallery in San Francisco’s Outer Sunset neighborhood, is a tableaux of sculpture and photography that questions the unknown agreements we enter into as consumers. The arrangement consists of a derelict shopping cart filled with dry and depleted soil, a wall-mounted drainage pipe, and a series of photographs of roadside signage from California’s Central Valley — the site of an urgent debate over water policy and its effect on the farming industry and local populations. Together, these objects and images depict an apocalyptic view of the current environmental crisis and our collective responsibility as consumers to take positive action towards healing our relationship to the natural world.

Murken’s work has long centered on the detrimental impact of overconsumption on individuals, particularly women, and communities. She has recently started working with found objects and images derived from grocery stores, meccas for our consumptive dependencies and desperate desire for security. The grocery cart represents the void we are endlessly trying to fill and its open latticework the futility of trying to meet that longing through consumption. In Bargain With The Devil, Murken expands this critique to the wider issue of the depletion of natural resources. As the source of all life, soil and water are imperative to existence. Yet we find ourselves at a bleak crossroads where we must choose between our dependence on capitalist consumerism and the natural world that sustains us. Bargain With The Devil presents the skeleton of a world where we’ve already run out of time, where the earth and water have become the commodities we so desperately seek.

About the Artist Katie Murken is a Bay Area artist working in sculpture, collage and installation. She works with found objects which are unremarkable and familiar from everyday life in consumer culture. Plastic bags and grocery circulars are mundane, even repugnant, yet for Murken speak to the common aspects of human experience. Murken’s process is driven by the challenge to transform these unwanted materials into objects of beauty and power. Her work has been exhibited at an.ä.log gallery, San Francisco, CA; Woolf Gallery, London, UK; The Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ; The Soap Factory, Minneapolis, MN; and The Contemporary Arts Center of Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV. Her work is included in the collections of The Pennsylvania Convention Center, The William Paterson University, and the J. Edgar Louise S. Monroe Library at Loyola University. Murken holds an MFA in Book Arts and Printmaking from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia and BFA with Honors from The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA.

Pressing Time – Natasha Loewy

The Great Highway Gallery is excited to present “Pressing Time”. Installation and zines by Natasha Loewy.

Artist’s Statement
A large yellow balloon slowly deflates under a fifty pound piece of clear plexiglass. The weight of the plexi both stabilize and squish the balloon. Seen through a window in the Outer Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco, viewers may notice subtle shifts in form throughout the duration of the exhibit.

Inside of the space, there are three shelves with zines made of sun exposed drawings on construction paper. The zines, titled “coffee table books,” priced at a sliding scale of $0-10, are meant to be taken home by viewers. Instead of purporting to be archival, these books admittedly fade and show wear. They invite viewers to witness change over time as a subtle reminder that everything is temporary.

Pressing Time alludes to the physical act of pressing something and to a copy or book press. Both the larger piece in the window and the more intimate zines inside use time and elements such as sunshine and changing temperatures as materials in the artworks themselves. Through a language that accepts instability and the possibility of failure, the works in this exhibition express emotional weight, temporality, joy, and humor.

About the Artist
Natasha Loewy (she/her) lives and works in Oakland, California. She received a BFA from The San Francisco Art Institute in 2008, a Single Subject Teaching Credential in Art from Mills College in 2012, and an MFA in Art Practice from San Francisco State University in 2022. Drawing from personal accounts of family trauma and a shared socio-political climate, she creates works that use tension and fragility to explore the relationships between anxiety, humor, and healing. Loewy has exhibited locally at galleries such as SOMArts, Root Division, and Hit SF. She has taught art in elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as within youth art programs throughout the Bay Area. She is one of three members of MUZ, a Bay Area based art collective focused on a collaborative studio and curatorial practice.

Artist Links


The Great Highway is a fine art gallery and working studio featuring contemporary works in all mediums. The gallery has a deep appreciation for images and ideas that explore where lands meet water.

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3649 Lawton St.
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