Spencer Finch, Study for Back to Kansas, 2014, acrylic and pencil on paper. McEvoy Family Collection. Courtesy of James Cohan

Spencer Finch, Study for Back to Kansas, 2014, acrylic and pencil on paper. McEvoy Family Collection. Courtesy of James Cohan


Color Code

McEvoy Arts’ fifth anniversary exhibition celebrates the many ways that color is used to create connection, convey meaning, and elicit emotion.

McEvoy Arts’ fifth anniversary exhibition Color Code celebrates color and its vibrant expressions in the arts. Modern and contemporary artworks from the McEvoy Family Collection join four new commissions by Bay Area artists Sadie Barnette, Angela Hennessy, Clare Rojas, and Zio Ziegler to showcase how we bring color into our lives.

Barnette’s installation is a tribute to family in rainbow hues celebrating connection and legacy. Hennessy’s gilded wall works evoke the complex racial and colonialist histories embedded in the colors black and gold. Rojas’ portraits of a girl play with how color palettes and shapes can suggest space, character, and mood. Ziegler’s paintings are as complex as the imaginary landscapes of Hieronymous Bosch, delving into memory as fiction in the digital age. These new works are complemented by a selection of painting, sculpture, and photography from the McEvoy Family Collection by colorists Etel Adnan, Ricci Albenda, David Alekhuogie, William Eggleston, Spencer Finch, Marilyn Minter, Gordon Parks, David Benjamin Sherry, and others.

These works speak to various color theories that abound in science and the arts. In ancient Greece, Aristotle held that deities sent down color from the heavens as celestial rays. In the seventeenth century, Sir Isaac Newton’s experiments with prisms led him to theorize that the real basis for visible color is in light itself, linking color systems to musical notation. For numerous visual artists, filmmakers, and designers, color is a both a means and an end. It is a tool for communicating stories, values, and ideas, as well as an expression of beauty, pleasure, and feeling in and of itself.

Color Code is accompanied by Visible Light, a program of short films in McEvoy Arts’ Screening Room about the relationship between light and color in the moving image; The Fifth Edition, a special anniversary newspaper showcasing color in the graphic arts; and workshops hosted by color specialists illuminating its important role in arts and design.


Etel Adnan
Ricci Albenda
Josef Albers
David Alekhuogie
Jackie Black
Carol Bove
Petra Cortright
Bruce Davidson
Richard Diebenkorn
William Eggleston
Roe Ethridge
Spencer Finch
Katharina Fritsch
Rico Gatson
Paul Graham
Andreas Gursky

Donald Judd
Isaac Julien
Yves Klein
Justine Kurland
Joel Meyerowitz
Marilyn Minter
Andee Nathanson
Lorraine O’Grady
Virginia Overton
Gordon Parks
David Benjamin Sherry
Stephen Shore
Wayne Thiebaud
James Welling
Christopher Williams

Photo by Henrik Kam

The Fifth Edition is a limited edition newspaper published on the occasion of McEvoy Arts’ fifth anniversary to celebrate the special role of color in art and design. Bay Area arts writer Sarah Thornton contributes an original essay that dives into the works on view in Color Code and draws on conversations with commissioned artists. In recognition of McEvoy Arts’ first five years of producing original poster designs for its exhibitions, alumni poster artists Chrissie Abbott, Najeebah Al-Ghadban, Chris DeLorenzo, Jason Munn, Jon Sueda, and design studio MacFadden & Thorpe return with original illustrations in response to the question: What is your color code?

Free copies are available in the gallery—take one home while supplies last!


To improve accessibility to McEvoy Arts’ exhibitions, the gallery’s visual aids have been expanded to include EnChroma color blind glasses. These glasses enable visitors with red-green color blindness to see an expanded range of clear, vibrant, distinct color and enjoy enhanced detail and depth perception.

Additional accessibility tools available to visitors include magnifying glasses, large-format printouts of exhibition brochures, audio transcriptions for the films in the Screening Room, and more. Please inquire with gallery staff.