Published September 21st, 2016
Moraga Gallery Exhibit Reveals Stark Contrasts
By Sophie Braccini
George Ehrenhaft stands in front of his paintings; in the forefront are some of David and Reed Bowman's creations. Photo Sophie Braccini
The Moraga Art Gallery this month presents an exhibition starring George Ehrenhaft, one of the gallery's partners and the featured painter of the exhibition, and metal workers David Bowman and son. The rich contrast in style - hard metal versus tender brushes and paints - creates a vibration that heightens one's senses while visiting the inviting space located in the Rheem Shopping Center.
At the center of the exhibit is Ehrenhaft's portrait of Mount Diablo from Skyline, a beautiful rendering of the famous scenery. Another painting of the local giant features the fog rolling in. The transparency that's proper to watercolor is beautifully suited to this type of scenery and feel. Blackbirds and a cow meander in Ehrenhaft's paintings. A beautiful picture of Yosemite in November delicately shows snow freshly fallen on the ground. Watercolor can also feature strength, such as a Half Dome rendering that includes delicate trees in front of the majestic rock.
Ehrenhaft's landscapes evoke in two dimensions the transparency of water, the translucency of fog, the dreamy feel of clouds, the elegance of the trees and the beauty of nature in pastel colors that speak of serenity.
The work of Bowman and his son Reed contrasts beautifully with Ehrenhaft's light touch. The Bowmans are metal workers, hammering, fusing, sculpting, enameling in their Berkeley studio, in stark contrast to the painter who says he likes nothing more than silence when he paints his delicate and evocative watercolors.
The father and son duo work the metal in elegant and modern lines, creating unique objects in their studio. Their art is not only decorative; it is also functional and even wearable as they create metal bracelets.
A former English teacher, Ehrenhaft moved to Moraga from Westchester County, New York, in 2005 to get closer to his daughter's family. Ehrenhaft and his wife were fast to make friends in the area. He developed his painting talent after retirement, taking out of storage the watercolor his father, a professional painter, had left him. Ehrenhaft is mostly a self-taught artist who learned through watching others paint. He joined the California Watercolor Association, a large group that has been a great resource for him.
Ehrenhardt, an avid hiker, fell in love with the California landscape, and often during his hikes, takes out his sketch pad and a few colors and creates a draft that will serve as the base for his final product. He says he throws away about half of his watercolors.
"The most common problem is 'mud,'" he says, explaining that the colors of the painting lose their luminescence because too many layers have been applied. He adds that the difficulty comes from the way colors look when they dry, some lighter, some very much lighter, than when they are applied.
David Bowman has worked his trade for more than 45 years. He started out creating silver jewelry, then moved into candlesticks, vases and abstract art. The work shown at the Moraga art gallery is a mix of silver and brass. Reed Bowman says he has worked for his father on his brass designs since he was 4 years old. The younger Bowman has a passion for medieval studies and works in academia, but cannot imagine not working with his hands. He helps with his father's designs when the engineering is challenging and works on his own creations, too.
The Moraga Art Gallery is a 16-year-old cooperative run by a group of 16 member artists. It hosts shows featuring a member artist along with a guest artist several times a year. The gallery is located in the Rheem Shopping Center, at 522 Center Street, Moraga. Hours are noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. For further details, visit or call (925) 376-5407.

Bracelets by David and Reed Bowman. Photo provided

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