As a kid, Marianna Stark “dreamed of opening an art gallery in a beach town,” she says. Earlier this year, she did just that. Here, she shares the vision for the new venture in Half Moon Bay.
What prompted you to open M Stark Gallery? Opening my own gallery is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. When I graduated from UC Berkeley in 1993 with an art history degree, I didn’t see a way to support myself in the art world. I embarked on a career in specialty retail instead. In my spare time, I immersed myself in art through museum groups, serving as a volunteer board member for multiple visual arts nonprofits. This proved to be the ultimate backstage pass, rewarding me with an informal degree in the business of art.
Why downtown Half Moon Bay? As a white box contemporary fine art gallery, M Stark Gallery is a different option from the town’s well-established collectives, craft and open-studios scene. But I was inspired by the eclectic mix of nurseries and garden shops, as well as boutiques selling home goods, gifts, apparel and more—all in an incredibly charming setting.
Is there a through line for the artists and works? We focus on pieces that relate to the natural world. The inaugural exhibition features 83-year-old Jerry Ross Barrish, whose sculptures are made from found objects, primarily beach plastic. Next will be a group show, “Sneaker Wave,” on view April 1 through May 21, featuring work with themes related to climate change and capitalism’s lack of respect for nature. Participating artists include Squeak Carnwath, Dan Lythcott-Haims, Sam Perry and Tabitha Soren.