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About SFAE

We work with over 70 important artists and photographers whose contributions to our collective visual history and cultural narrative are immeasurable. Much of the popular iconography with which we are all familiar, were conceived and produced by fine professionals and true legends in their craft. We are honored to present, online as well as in our downtown San Francisco gallery, among the most historically significant popular imagery by some of the most prominent artists and photographers who produced them.

In the Beginning

Founded in 1983, San Francisco Art Exchange has gone through several transitions during its existence, beginning as a small fine art business brokering artwork by 20th century masters. We then evolved into promoting contemporary painters. Ultimately we began exploring the importance and value of art and imagery that have become part of the popular consciousness.

The New Paradigm

We first began exhibiting illustration, particularly the pin-up paintings of Alberto Vargas, in 1985. With our collaboration in 1987 with Ronnie Wood to promote his artwork, as well as having Roger Dean, famed rock album cover painter, join us in 1990, momentum encouraged us to double the size of our gallery to 3000 square feet. We then began to incorporate rock and Hollywood photography into our make up in the 1990's as a natural progression to expand the scope of the definition of popular iconography.

Some Conjecture

We think our early art dealing roots, working with the art of such artists as Picasso, Miró, Chagall, Warhol, Haring, Dalí and many other master fine artists put us in a good position to appreciate and frame a discussion around the artistic merit, historical importance, cultural significance and, hence, the market value for much of the art and imagery of popular culture that has surrounded us for decades.

The Owners

JIM HARTLEY

Jim is the driving force behind all client relationships, staff training and all around SFAE family godfather.

Jim was born in New York and grew up in Florida. While he studied electrical engineering at university, he knew his heart was truly not in engineering. After graduating, he moved to the San Francisco area in the late 1960's to accept a management job with a telecommunications company. Jim's work ethic and persuasiveness landed him in the sales and marketing department. "My technical and sales sides came together. My previously unrecognized inner sales personality finally had the chance to come out," he smiles.

Jim had grown into a strong executive position with the company so when they chose to expand into the Middle East leadership tapped him to lead that expansion. He spent a year in Tehran to open and operate a sales and marketing office that covered territories from Turkey to Burma. Upon a return visit to California, he met and married Luz Maria, an artist who had emigrated from Chile. It was his first exposure to the creation of art. He, his new wife and her three children returned to Iran in 1977. In a short time, however, a revolution in Iran was being anticipated so he moved his family back to the United States. He then returned to Tehran to close company operations and quickly became swept up in the chaos of the revolution. He spent his last nights in Iran at the American Embassy before being evacuated with others on the last flight out of Tehran as described in the book, "On the Wings of Eagles."

After reuniting with his family in California he reassessed how he wanted to apply his talents and, still fascinated with art, he joined a large downtown San Francisco art gallery to help develop their corporate art strategy and outreach. He quickly moved into the position of the gallery's director until leaving in 1983 to co-found SFAE.

THERON KABRICH

Theron is the creative director of all things SFAE. He is artist liaison, public relations hub and our business development guy.

Theron Kabrich is a San Francisco Bay Area native who had originally planned to become a psychologist. He worked for four years in a locked psychiatric hospital as part of the therapy team and, at the same time, with a community crisis intervention group. However, he took a break from what seemed his career path and "took to the road." Before the age of 25, he had traveled throughout Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, Nepal and India, collecting art and objects along the way. This set a new chapter in motion from a career in clinical psychology to one as a fine art dealer. "Art drew me everywhere I went," he says. "Art had captured my imagination." After returning to the United States, Theron drafted a list of personal goals for his life, one of which was to establish a career in art.

Theron pounded the pavement in San Francisco until he landed a position at a small San Francisco gallery. There, he cut his art dealing teeth offering the work of modern masters. He was ultimately solicited by the owner of a large San Francisco gallery to join his team.

Shortly after taking a position with the new gallery, Theron met Segun, a Spanish citizen who was visiting San Francisco and who would eventually become his wife. A year later he moved to Switzerland where she was living. With Geneva as his base, he developed relationships with numerous European art dealers, sourcing work by European masters for American clients.

Theron and Segun eventually returned to the United States and married. He has maintained his relationships with both American and European art dealers to this day and still secures masterworks for interested clients. Return to previous page


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