Queen Bee: Elise Morris

Elise Morris is one of the best abstract-organic painters in the Bay Area. She offers the above picture as an example of her latest direction. Her studio is at the Hive, where she is the manager and curator of the newly established Hive Gallery. click on the above image to enlarge.


I have know Elise for a few years now. She is the staggeringly capable operator of the Hive Studios, a place just to the side of Downtown Oakland, near Jack London Square where I have had two studios over three years. Her bold new enterprise, besides being a mother, is running monthly shows out of the back room which is set up like a gallery and therefore is one. There have been a couple of shows and this month LITTLE PIECES, an ambitious group show debuts at First Friday. I chatted with her recently and asked her a few questions about how she does what she does.

1. How did the Hive get started?

Metrovation had a big warehouse space open up at the same time that Linda and I were looking for studio space, so we did a proforma and came up with a plan to build out studios in the space. Metrovation saw it as a great opportunity to bring energy to that block, where we had other vacant spaces.

2. I know you have been running the Hive studios since it started, what three years ago? What made you decide to open the back room as a gallery?

To be honest that space had some issues, so we couldn’t rent it as a studio. The idea of it becoming a gallery came organically. Studio members collaborated in putting up lighting and making signage. Now this year I am getting shows organized every single month. It’s a lot of work but I love giving our artists the opportunity to show their art. It’s a great learning process for everyone involved.

3. How is the Hive going? What is happening in the neighborhood?

The Hive is doing great. Right now we have a wonderful group of artists with studios. It’s become a nice community. And in the three years that we’ve been open, the surrounding buildings have definitely become more activated. Now East Bay Express has their offices upstairs, the Oakland Metro Opera is around the corner and Urban Legend Winery actually opens their tasting room officially this week! There is so much more activity on our block these days.

4. Are you getting enough time to paint? What are you working on?

I am actually getting to paint more and more. I just finished a commission of small works on vintage embroidery hoops for an installation in China. And otherwise I am just getting other paintings under way – there are a lot of blank canvases in my studio at the moment. I just shipped 4 paintings to a gallery in Louisiana. Locally, I have a small group of paintings hanging in encuento right now. This is a really busy time of year.


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  • Moises Aragon

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