Artist Studio | Kim Frohsin

Life on the Lakebed

Why do you choose to live and work in the city?

It chose me! I moved to San Francisco in the late summer of 1985 to attend what was then called the Academy of Art College. I feel privileged to live in such a culturally rich, diverse, and naturally beautiful “town.” I can take a walk near my home, stand on a hilltop, be still, take in the view, and feel a love and affection for this city and its unique history—like something I feel towards a dear, beloved friend.

Describe your neighborhood.

North Beach is a very desirable part of the city located at the usually sunny northeast tip of downtown bordering the waterfront, in part, nestled between Telegraph Hill and Russian Hill. The “hood” is a mecca for tourists from all over the world. It has a definite European flair with coffee houses, picturesque views, bohemian-era cafes, one-of-a-kind boutiques, quaint alleyways, landmarks, Italian heritage, and reminders of the infamous Barbary Coast days of yore.

How does your environment affect your art?

The tight mix of ethnicities found here definitely affects what I do. An example is color choices—they are influenced by my constantly traversing nearby Chinatown. Another example is that I have painted a series based on local haunts, both cityscapes and parkscapes. The density of people and styles of architecture both directly and indirectly come into play all the time, even in my female figurative work.

Describe your studio.

I have a storefront on Mason Street. It was once a Chinese-owned, mom-and-pop grocery store. There are shelves that once held food items and now are chock full of my books, props, and paint.

Do you play music in the studio?

I only like to listen to music as a backdrop for life-drawing sessions. I love variety—Beethoven to Beck. Otherwise, I am an NPR addict in the studio.

Life on the Lakebed

You have just published a new book, Two Minutes and Counting. What is the focus?

The book includes color plates of 120 works which I personally selected: all small-scale, very colorful works on paper, which are based upon my two-minute gesture drawings of models.

What’s your favorite haunt in your North Beach neighborhood?

It has to be the hardtop playground area at the Joe DiMaggio Recreation Center. For years, I have done my “kimfu” [free-style stretching/yoga exercises] there and tossed a ball to my dog, Mason. We’re really a fixture there. People in the ’hood wave and yell out. It is very sacred turf for me, for us.

When people come to visit you in San Francisco, what’s the first place you like to take them?

Over the years, I have become more and more what I call a “Northside Girl.” I really feel attached to and know this part of the city very well. So when people visit nowadays, I just start out with a walk up Telegraph Hill, then head westward over to the Marina up into the exclusive, mansion-packed Pacific Heights, through the Presidio to reach Sea Cliff and the California Legion of Honor Museum. The museum perches atop an awesomely beautiful area overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands. Here high art meets nature, history, and fine architecture, plus the jewel-like top of the downtown skyline can be seen on a clear day like a mirage in the distance.

Where can people find you when you aren’t painting?

Hiking the urban hills, usually with Mason. I never tire of this way of observing what is around me. It affects my creative thought processes and I get “epiphanies” often while walking and channeling my mind on art.

What is the one place people would never find you?

India or some obscure, far-off developing country. I am just not that hardy or daring. I also cannot see myself in a helicopter flying over a large body of water. Nor can I be seen hanging out in a local bar. That is just not my style.

Kim Frohsin is represented by Dolby Chadwick Gallery, San Francisco, CA; Hauk Fine Arts, Pacific Grove, CA; Leanne Hull Fine Art, La Jolla, CA; ModernArts, Corrales, NM; Visions West Galleries, Bozeman and Livingston, MT; Mongerson Galleries, Chicago, IL; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Artist’s Gallery, San Francisco, CA; and Trillium Press, Brisbane, CA. For more information on Frohsin’s book Two Minutes and Counting, visit

Featured in “My World” April 2007