Rite of Spring

Kirk Maxon

April 8th – May 23rd

The Great Highway Gallery is excited to present Rite of Spring a window installation by San Francisco artist Kirk Maxon.

Kirk Maxon’s work reflects his appreciation for the magic inherent in nature. This understanding was fostered by family walks and mushroom foraging with his mother growing up in Oregon. Kirk continues to forage for his botanical muses that he then turns into perfectly detailed metal sculptures. Living in San Francisco his recent work is influenced by urban plants that often go unnoticed or unappreciated. They represent a City of survivors.

Kirk manipulates metal in the same way you might see done with paper. His specimens are photographed, photocopied then cut into patterns that he uses to meticulously cut his metal herbarium installations.

Exhibition Statement
In 1913 Igor Stravinsky wrote Rite of Spring when it was premiered in Paris, the avant-garde nature of the music and choreography and possibly the anti Russian sentiment caused a sensation. Many have called the first-night reaction a “riot”. In the 1980’s a Heavy Metal band named Rite of Spring was a mainstay of the D.C. Punk Scene. They where considered the first emo band but they rejected any association with emo genres. In 2011 A horror movie named Rite of Spring was released to a plethora of bad reviews with a plot revolving around kidnappings and monsters. In 2021 a group protesting the loss of Donald Trump rioted inside the capital building. 

A paganistic installation of brass prickly wildflower bushes will fill the window, referencing the protest and real horrors of these recent times. 

About the Artist
Kirk Maxson moved to San Francisco in 1992, and lived in the Mission and participated in the San Francisco Mission School art scene. He exhibited artwork in the seminal exhibition spaces of Adobe books, Scene/Asena, and ESP during the height of the Mission School. Subsequently he has created multiple permanent site-specific installation for corporate collections including ClimateWorks Foundation, San Francisco, CA, Kilroy Realty Corporation, Bellevue, WA, UBM, San Francisco, CA, Genentech Inc., South San Francisco, CA, Morgan Stanley Corporate Collection, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Collection, Avant Corporate Collection, Menlo Park, CA and Fresh Connection Corporation, Lafayette, CA.

He has also created numerous installations for private residences. He has previously worked with Eleanor Harwood Gallery, San Francisco, Eli Ridgeway Gallery and the Gensler Architecture firm in San Francisco. 

Kirk is also a part of the Ocean Beach community. His expansive sand drip castles are an impermanent gift to those who stumble upon them or lucky enough to see him at work. 

P.W.D.s Pandemic Worry Dolls

Leigh Barbier

February 26th – April 4th

Price list • Press Release

The Great Highway Gallery is excited to present P.W.D.s a window installation by San Francisco artist Leigh Barbier.

Exhibit Statement
I began making Pandemic Worry Dolls in April of this year. By sending them to my close friends, family members and front line workers, it was my way to reach out and offer support and connection in the absence of face to face contact. They are constructed out of cardboard and hot glue, painted with acrylic, further adorned with fabric and found objects. Each one is unique and each one carries a specific worry. The worry is like a prayer, silent and heart felt. I continue to make them in batches of a dozen. And I will keep making them until we can live without fear of the virus. These are a few samples.

About the Artist
I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, California, and grew up on a gravel road, running barefoot and free between neighbor’s homes. I attended a Christian Science church every Sunday and Disneyland once a year. I remember thinking as a small child that Sees candy was a religious destination and God looked like a tube of toothpaste. Later museums replaced Sees candy and I found order in the universe through art.

I am drawn to religious art, admire Thomas Hart Benton’s line and color, adore the muralist of the Mexican Revolution and can`t get the images of Disney from my 1960s childhood out of my visual vocabulary.

I have found that the work I have done to earn a living has impacted me more than anything I learned in college. From museum model-making to digital painting for the special effects industry; they have both shaped and condensed my hands on skills and sharpened my eye.The highlights have been working on dioramas for the California Academy of Sciences, being part of an all girl team to make a giant baseball mitt for the Giants stadium and digitally painting on Star Wars, Episode 2 and 3. My best freelance opportunity to date has come from my experience working with the San Francisco musical group, The Residents over the last 15 years. This has been the perfect combination of work and art, an opportunity to combine my vision with the narrative visuals of the Residents’ myth-making.

For me, making drawings, paintings and sculpture is a simple and direct process of giving emotions form. This compulsion, along with my over-active imagination that perceives peril around every corner, drives my image making.

Entangled: Chasing Bull Kelp

Josie Iselin


November 13th 4-7pm
(weather permitting)
Limited indoor access

The Great Highway Gallery is excited to present Entangled: Chasing Bull Kelp. The exhibition will feature: a window installation, prints and sculpture by Josie Iselin.

Artist Links 
instagram: @josieiselin

Artist Statement
I have been making images of and writing about seaweed for over a decade. Seaweeds are gorgeously varied, vibrantly colored, and interesting. The science behind their life histories and their ecology is not only fascinating, but important for us to know when thinking about the health of our oceans. My scanner has been the optimal tool for bringing these algal neighbors to life; for letting them speak.

But one species in particular has been of greatest concern: Nereocystis luetkeana, or bull kelp. This is the majestic kelp that makes up the kelp forest off our Northern California coastline, it is the kelp that collects on our beaches, right here in San Francisco. While it is a wonder of photosynthetic possibility, growing into 60-80 foot tall kelps—singular stipe with long flowing blades, collecting in massive tangles of biomass on the beaches in fall and winter—its ecology is fragile. Over the past few years, the great bull kelp forests of Sonoma and Mendocino counties have been reduced from enormous forests to tiny patches. The warming ocean, hordes of urchins and lack of top predators leave bull kelp vulnerable.

In my newest book, The Curious World of Seaweed, I devote the second chapter to bull kelp, the story of the extermination of sea otter, and subsequent rise in urchin and abalone populations, noting our human inclination to pull resilience out of complex networks of interactions that keep rich and diverse ecological systems in balance. I followed up with a more in-depth article on bull kelp, sea otter and our California Coast. I am working on a book length examination of this magnificent organism throughout its range from Central California to the Aleutian Islands.

So here at The Great Highway Gallery I want to celebrate Nereocystis luetkeana. This singular kelp that only exists here along this ribbon of ocean along our continent is sculpture and sculptor, primary producer and cyanotype muse. It is home to countless marine animals living in its forests and food for kelp flies and isopods when washed on the beach, in turn generating protein for migrating shore birds. It is my constant reminder that our oceans deserve our reverence and considered regard.

About the Artist
Josie Iselin is the photographer, author and designer of many books exploring our coastal universe. Her newest book, The Curious World of Seaweed (Heyday Books, August 2019), is an ambitious combination of essays and historical as well as contemporary imagery that explores the algal world just beyond the beach. Josie holds a BA in visual and environmental studies from Harvard and an MFA from San Francisco State University. For over twenty-five years she has used her flatbed scanner and computer for generating imagery. Iselin exhibits large-scale fine art prints at select galleries and museums, advocates for ocean health through education and speaks widely on the confluence of art and science. She teaches in the School of Design at San Francisco State University.


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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Location and Hours

The Great Highway
3649 Lawton St.
San Francisco, CA 94122

phone: (415) 680-3891
email: info@thegreathighway.com

By appointment 7 days a week

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