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Best Up-And-Coming Visual Artists In The Bay Area

The best up-and-coming artists work long hours in their studios and are unlikely to have retail locations, so finding them can be a challenge. Two of the best spots for browsing their art are the ever-expanding outdoor events at the Treasure Island Flea on the last weekend of each month and at Jack of All Trades Market in Oakland's Jack London Square on the second Saturday of the month. Both venues move indoors for the winter months, re-emerging into the sunshine in April. Here are a few picks of East Bay up-and-coming artists we've noticed are getting lots of attention.


Gwendolyn McShepard
With hundreds of items sold from her California shows, McShepard's murals adorn a Berkeley restaurant, grace the walls of corporate offices, a hospital, menu covers, magazine pages, book covers, jazz CDs and more. Perhaps her most intriguing piece of public art is her 3,000-square-foot mural at the Historic Rose Garden Inn – the largest single mural project by a female artist in the Bay Area. "A bold use of color and an uninhibited and sometimes folksy style is becoming her recognizable trademark," GPY Galleries website informs. She certainly has a knack for capturing the moments. According to the thoughtful prose McShepard shares, she begins by explaining, "Art is the way we see our lives..." See more about McShepard's philosophy and more of her work at upcoming Treasure Island Flea and Jack London Square art shows as well as other fine art shows in the Bay Area. Check her website for upcoming art shows or email her at

Ricky Nelson
(209) 484-6061

This metal art sculptor was born and raised in the Central Valley. Nelson says his inspiration around welding goes way back. He explains, "Ever since I was a young boy I was making, building, creating something out of what others call junk or scrap." From a start in his mother's kitchen, he now sources up-cycled, recycled and repurposed items ranging from household to industrial and everything in between. Where we see stuff, Nelson sees beauty. Galleries and curators agree. "I find materials at scrap yards, yard sales, flea markets, sometimes lying on the side of the road." Showing at the Treasure Island Flea for the first time in 2013 suited Nelson and his admirers; he says he hasn't missed one show since that launch.

Janay Rose - "The Window Lady"
(510) 326 6324

Both fashion and art at once, Janay Rose enjoys being known as "The Window Lady" at the Treasure Island Flea, Oakland First Fridays, Maker Faire and the Edwardian Ball. She hand sews strictly recycled materials in her elaborately detailed designs, obsessed with mixing different eras in her patchwork garments. Inspired by images of the harlequin, The Window Lady is known for her one-of-a-kind pieces made with ties, lace and doilies. Think crazy harlequin bustle, elaborate avant-garde collars, sea monster capelet and romantic colonial vest.

Mandi Stillwell

Stillwell successfully marries traditional photography with modern technology. She has been shooting portraits and working as a street artist in the Bay Area for the last three years. In response to the question of how she gets so many unique shots, Stillwell's response is rather unexpected: she has an historical fishing boat, the Nina Tarantino, at Fisherman's Wharf. Also unexpected is her technique, "I have used an augmented reality app for the last year; upon downloading you hold your device up to my photo and it turns it into a video pertaining to the photo." As for up-and-coming, a Stillwell photograph was recently published on the book cover of "Cracked Not Broken," Amazon's #1 best-seller this past summer.

Khalid Naweed
(510) 593-3396

Khalid Naweed is an environmental science and ecology whiz, leading a healthy and organic lifestyle which is embodied in his work. Reclamation Republic is an Oakland-based enterprise specializing in reclaimed wood art pieces, transforming worthy materials that would otherwise be demolished and making them one-of-a-kind decorative pieces. Naweed says, "We believe in using ecologically friendly alternatives to massively manufactured design." And it shows. Transform your office, school or home; you'll see custom-made furniture and wall planters as living art, as seen through the artist's eyes.

Laurie JM Farr is a freelance writer covering all things in her adopted San Francisco. A dedicated urbanite, she's a transplanted New Yorker by way of a couple of decades in London as a hotel sales and marketing manager. Follow her work on @ReferencePlease, USA Today, Yahoo! and on

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