Commercial art gallery

Magic Chef Gallery takes refrigerator art to the next level

The San Francisco gallery mounted its first exhibition in September 2021 with three oil pastels on paper by the Brooklyn artist Emily Olsen. Each show lasts two to three weeks, with the exhibition calendar organized into six “seasons”.

Magic Chef is the latest – and perhaps the cutest – in a long line of alternative exhibition spaces in the Bay Area, many of which have been located in or around their organizers’ homes. But there is something distinctly pandemic-friendly about a space that can be easily understood through images.

Work by Rebecca Ackermann on Magic Chef Gallery. (Magic Chef Gallery)

The gallery’s second season just launched on February 21 with ink-on-paper drawings by a San Francisco artist. Jason Jaegel (known to many for the cover art he created for several MF DOOM albums). Its large black and white pieces – an image spread across two sheets of paper – almost cover both refrigerator doors. Magnetic lettering spelling out Jägel’s name in Block’s handwriting fits perfectly below.

“Everyone seems really excited about it,” Block says of the artists she invited to show off their work at Magic Chef. “They all think it’s a lot of fun and manageable.” A refrigerator already exists as a space where things are showcased, she points out. Magic Chef simply formalizes this relationship.

And while the gallery is perhaps best suited to show works on paper, several artists have ventured beyond the traditional medium of the refrigerator. San Francisco Artist Rebecca Ackerman supported his polymer clay sculptures with magnets, creating miniature arrays of various spilled foods for Oops I did it again. Los Angeles Artist Roberta Klug even ventured inside the fridge, contributing a ceramic sculpture of a friendly flower.

Abstract flower design in greens and yellows
Work by Anjelica Colliard on Magic Chef Gallery. (Magic Chef Gallery)

Artists, says Block, immediately understand the creative task and live with it. “These are really clear parameters,” she says, “both physically and conceptually.”

The Works in Magic Chef shows are on sale, and Block is trying to keep everything affordable, under $300. “I just want things to be easy,” she says. “And while it’s a fun project, it’s also a professional opportunity for these artists.”

After co-running an artist-run space in Oakland and holding audience-facing positions at various commercial galleries, Block has found what, for now, seems like the perfect way to showcase art according to his own terms.

“The whole project is distinctly anti-social,” she laughs. “I guess it’s just fun for me, actually. It’s completely satisfying and fun everyday when I go there.