Mar 2, 2020

An Art Show Like No Other to Honor a One-of-a-Kind Gallery Owner

Michael Himovitz’s Artists and Friends Remember Him March 5-28

By Ed Goldman


he art of Michael Himovitz’s life was art itself.

He was known throughout California and the creative cosmos in general for his uncanny eye in spotting talent that he nurtured—sometimes like a mother hen, sometimes with tough love. He ruled over an eponymous downtown Sacramento, second-floor gallery, which eventually moved to an under-appreciated part of the capital, Del Paso Heights, and even for a brief while established a second beachhead in an upscale suburban enclave, Pavilions Shopping Center, which he told me, in his distinctive cigarette growl, he “hated, hated hated!” (He amplified that by saying he didn’t think “middle-aged couples climbing out of their Lexuses wearing matching, ironed jogging suits are my demographic.”) 

A co-founder of Sacramento’s Second Saturday, D Oldham Neath will celebrate Himovitz’s legacy in a show at her Archival Gallery March 5-28. The opening night is March 14—which is, as you’ll agree,  Second Saturday.

The show, titled ”Michael Himovitz Redux,” not only re-gathers a number of artists whose career began with or was enhanced by Himovitz, but also is a fundraiser to support the 35th anniversary of the Artists in Crisis Fund.

Michael Himovitz photo by Kurt Fishback.

Artists expected to attend the opening and/or be represented by their work include Suzanne Adan, John Stuart Berger, Tony Natsoulas, Kim Scott, Michael Stevens, Daniel DiPierro, Al Farrow, Anne Gregory, Mick Sheldon and Kurt Fishback (who shot today’s photo of Himovitz). Artists who’ll be posthumously honored include Laureen Landau, Clayton Pinkerton and Fred Uhl Ball, for whom the fund was created. 

Full disclosure demands I reveal that a new painting of my own will be in the show. I used to paint fairly prolifically (if not well) and Himovitz for some reason carried my work as well as snared a couple of commissions for me. When D (for Darling) invited me to submit a piece for the show, it was the first time in 13 years I found myself painting more than book shelves. I liked the cause but more to the point, I adored Himovitz. 

He was candid and very funny (Exhibit A: the couples with the matching jogging suits, above) and I used to love the stories he told me about the goings and comings at his place—to the extent that one day I asked if he’d like to collaborate in creating a sitcom, to be called “Gallery,” that would be similar in staging to “Night Court,” which was largely shot with multiple cameras on a single set, and for which I’d written an episode that I’m sure they’ll decide on any day now (though pesky TV buffs will doubtless note the show’s been off the air since 1992). 

Michael and I wrote a 45-minute pilot and three subsequent 30-minute episodes. Then his partner, Chuck Miller, took it to a friend of his at HBO. Then Michael revealed to me he had AIDS. Then Miller said HBO was still very interested. Then Michael died. Then Miller said he should get half the writing and creation credit for the show, though he’d never been in the room or even building when Michael and I wrote together. I suggested instead that Michael’s daughter and son from his marriage to the wonderful photographer Melanie Mages (who’s subsequently enjoyed a long and loving marriage to former Sacramento Bee marketing exec Ed Canale) be given what would have been Michael’s split of the money and that only his and my credit remain on the scripts—for, in fact, Michael and I had registered the show that way with the Writers Guild of America, which I guess Miller hadn’t realized. Then Miller said HBO was no longer interested. He passed away a few years later but I have an airtight alibi.

I hope you’ll drop by this eye-popping, jaw-dropping, heart-stopping show. The gallery is at 3223 Folsom Blvd. in Sacramento, and images can be viewed at Archival Gallery’s website. Bring your own uncanny eye.

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).