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The Max Thelen Studio Residency

The Max Thelen Studio is a studio residency program generously funded by the Fenwick Foundation in commemoration of Max Thelen Jr. The residency aims to support emerging artists by providing free studio space, exhibition opportunity, and exposure to the public for one year. 


IMG 3462

Crows and Doves 2022, oil on canvas,25" x 36" 

Alejandra Chavez

oil painting

My name is Alejandra Chavez and I’m a Latina artist born and raised in the San Francisco bay area. I have been creating art since I was a young child. For me, art has always been where I truely come alive. I treat each creation like a ritual and often like to describe my work as storytelling as each painting has its own life. I draw inspiration from memories or life circumstances. I’m inspired by my culture, spirituality, loneliness, heartbreak, community, family, and even some humor. I’m excited to have the art residency and see how my practice grows and develops!
























Sharon Virtue 16X20IHAVEADREAM

I Have a Dream,  Sharon Virtue, acrylic on canvas, 16" x 20". 

Sharon Virtue

mixed media

Sharon Virtue is a British artist of Jamaican and Irish heritage, living in Fairfax, California. She is a multi-media artist, with a BA in Fine art and a Masters in Community arts from Goldsmiths University in London, U.K. She has a strong social practice and believes artists are agents of transformation. 


Her works narrate stories of shape shifting, metamorphosis and power. They contain mythological beings, and archetypal symbols which exist amidst the veils of the natural and supernatural realms.


The viewer is invited to encounter the magical places and beings that inhabit her imagination, to be immersed in fantastical landscapes of brilliant color; to explore, decipher and be immersed in a sumptuous dreamlike atmosphere, strange yet familiar.


“The current atmosphere of racism and the visceral effects of climate change are emerging in my recent paintings. Despite the seriousness of the subject matter the paintings are executed with a degree of extraordinary freedom, playfulness and colorful expressionism, using acrylic dayglow paints, glitter and gold leaf. 


“It is my nature to make dynamic, fearless and joyful expressions, perhaps this is an attempt to make ugly truths more easy to look at, and ignite reflection on our incredulous reality.”  – Sharon Virtue  







Stuffed Letters, Sunyoung Lee, a crylic and canvas clothes on clay, 64" x 72"

Sunyoung Lee

painting, sculpture, ceramics, mixed media

Art alone cannot change the world, but it can change how people view the world. It is in this context that I think that my work can promote healing across the divide created by walls and ideologies. My goal as an artist is that my work communicates with the beautiful and sincere mind of every human being beyond spoken languages. Together, humanity will gather and crawl through the wall between you and me, country and country. My main symbols, windows and letters represent reconciliation, and universal language, and humanity. Painting is a starting point with infinite possibilities that can extend to the external world; hence, I would say painting is an infinite window.


Themes about humanity seem to be romantic, timeless, age-old relics. Post-modern art, arousing and instant, connects one with these themes. The zeitgeist yearns for a Renaissance. My work is a Re-Renaissance that is needed especially for post-modern people who crave humanity.  


Peter Adamyan - Chain Breaker 1500x copy

Chainbreaker, Peter Adamyan, oil and acrylic paint, OSB wood, bicycle tire and tire valves, 24" x 24"

Peter Adamyan

oil paint, wood, mixed media

Humanity has lost its connection with the natural world and let brand identity replace cultural identity. Our ability to manipulate our surroundings to suit our needs has made us the top species on the planet but now appears to be leading to our own decline. We're obsessed with the latest technologies that soon become antiquated and discarded.


My work is created using as many recycled materials as possible, pulling from religious iconography, art history and environmentalists of the past. I strive to create a narrative throughout my work that aims for a simpler life or how ours have become overly complex. In simultaneously critiquing our rampant materialism, addiction to a consumer based economy and reminding us that it was not always this way, I wish to turn a mirror on our relationship or lack thereof to the natural world and to imagine a world where we have willingly gone back to a hunter gatherer society built on the waste of our world.  




Hayley Samantha Jensen Worlds Apart 

Worlds Apart,  Hayley Samantha Jensen; photographed by Collin Pollard

Hayley Samantha Jensen

painting, video, neon, sculpture

Hayley Samantha Jensen, originally from New Orleans, recently graduated from San Francisco Art Institute with an MFA in Studio Art. She works through thoughtful play in her work, finding enchantment and sadness in the intricacies of environmental assemblages. While she focuses on painting, she also works with video, neon, and sculpture.


"My work references the spectral dimension of existence, finding kinship with nonhumans and fostering prismatic hope in the dark. Plastic materials provoke and complicate to subvert the image further into the complex depths of interconnection. Through plastic's past, I recognize it's ghosts and memorialize their lives as kin through colorful play. I engage in a conversation around animism, playing with its vibrancy and demystifying it in order to informally hang out with animism as an idea, as a solution, and mourn with it for the human inflictions of preceding and proceeding violence. Through challenging anthropocentric ideologies, I provide a platform to engage in solidarity with nonhuman entities, locking eyes and connecting the innately connected."


Statement About My Experience as the Max Thelen Resident Artist:

This year as the artist-in-residence has been a transformative one to say the least. Despite the way 2020 finished off my time at Artworks Downtown, I am grateful beyond words to have been given the opportunity to become part of such a talented, welcoming, and close-knit community here in San Rafael. I treasure what I’ve learned from my own evolving practice, what I’ve learned from the artists around me, and the dear friends I’ve made all throughout this residency at Art Works Downtown. 


Naomi Alessandra TUSSLE
Tussle, Naomi Alessandra

Naomi Alessandra

watercolor, pen & ink, multimedia

Naomi Alessandra studied comparative literature before embarking on a career in fashion illustration and design. Recently she has turned her attention to telling visual stories on a more substantial scale with large works on paper and hand-painted animations. 

“I am interested in the portrayal of the inconsistencies, aberrations, and inherent dynamism of my subjects. Any story worth telling contains characters who embody contradictory impulses, and who mutate depending on the perspective from which they are examined. The multiplicity of the human experience and the impossibility of collapsing a human story into a single narrative fascinates me—that impossibility itself is the story I seek to tell. Visually, this translates into my practice of shoving multiple points of view, varied moments in time, or paradoxical character attributes into one frame.”  


Lara Myers The 36 Houses I Have Lived In From Memory Alone

The 138 Houses We Lived In When We Were 10, Drawn From Memory Alon e,  Lara Myers 

Lara Myers

documentary installation art

Lara Myers is an Army brat, the godchild of a Charo back-up singer, a former dancer for the San Francisco band, ArmaGetItOn, and a documentary visual artist who calls Marin County her home. 

In the past two years, her work has been shown at Art Works Downtown in three juried shows: Shelter; Climate Change, and Marin Contemorary; and in her Underground Gallery solo show, The 138 Houses We Lived In When We Were 10, Drawn From Memory Alone.

Her materials and techniques vary greatly between her projects, from needlefelting, soft sculpture, and work that enlists the participation and content contribution from other people, such as The 138 Houses installation and the current 9/11 recollection project, An Exact Moment In Time.

“I want to involve people in the process of artmaking by revealing my thought process and working process; demonstrating and allowing people to try each technique; and by encouraging people to convey their stories, memories, recollections and experiences, and then see them translated into collaborative art installations.”

“I need to discover what type of and how much participation, interaction, and contribution people are willing to do in an art project. My self-challenge is to push this type of work to its limits and the Max Thelen Studio Residency at Art Works Downtown is the perfect opportunity and place to do so.”   


Urn sculpture by Meg Regelous
Urn sculpture, Meg Regelous 

Meg Regelous

drawing, painting, printmaking, ceramics

Meg Regelous, a resident of Novato, has studied full-time at the College of Marin for the past five years enrolled in art studio classes in drawing, oil painting, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, photography, and jewelry. 

"I create work from my heart, and what comes of that can be sweet, haunting, or frightfully intimate. I make each piece deliberately and often obsessively, drawing from the beauty and visually rich reality in which I have grown up. I take advantage of pursuing an interdisciplinary course as one media feeds into the other in inspiring ways. For instance, printmaking techniques and painting are integral parts of my ceramic sculptures. However, the cornerstone of my practice has always been drawing and it feeds into each of my endeavors."  


The Max Thelen Studio Residency is made possible with the financial support of the Fenwick Foundation.  



Lauren Bartone DropStitch
Drop Stitch, 2014 Lauren Bartone, acrylic painting on collage pile of papers, 8.5" x 11".

Lauren Bartone

drawing, painting, social practice

Lauren Bartone is an artist and educator based in San Rafael, California. Her work is grounded in an interdisciplinary balance of painting, collective dialogue, and community work. Most recently her work has considered social patterns and divisions as they pertain to education, motherhood and daily life in her community. She has shown work in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Vermont and New York.