Res ipsa loquitur is Latin legalese meaning “the thing speaks for itself.” And at Res Ipsa, one of Oakland Art Murmur’s newest galleries — run by two attorneys — the art does speak for itself.
“I’ve been a photographer a long time. Since I was about 11,” says Res Ipsa’s co-owner Jonathan Ball of Oakland. “I’ve been a lawyer for less time than that.” Ball majored in art history at Stanford.
“I honestly had not been planning and plotting to open a gallery at all,” Ball says. But then he found the space at 455 17th St., Suite 301, which had been used as a gallery in the past, and whose location made it “relatively easy to plug into some of the existing community-gallery-Art Murmur infrastructure.”
Ball approached Frank Petrilli, also of Oakland, with whom he had worked at a small real estate and environmental law firm. Petrilli describes himself as a “semi-serious painter,” and studied painting in college. Of becoming a gallerist he says, “It kind of came out of nowhere, but the timing was right.”
Res Ipsa’s first show “Things You May Have Missed,” featured Ball’s own photography. From there they approached painter Nick Weber, with his atmospheric Night Scenes, then lined up
solo exhibits of other painters as well as mixed-media artists.
As a new gallery they resist pigeonholing themselves. “We made a conscious decision not to define ourselves as anything in particular, actually. Not to define ourselves as Bay Area, or as a painting place, or as a contemporary place,” Ball says. “We wanted to give ourselves some room to explore, with the one really important thing being that we only show stuff that we really believe in.”
These attorneys cum gallerists acknowledge a certain luxury in not having to worry about paying the rent. According to Petrilli this translates into being able to “make it really about the art, and what we’re showing, and providing opportunity for people to come by, and have conversations with guys who are doing it ... as supporters of the arts, and as supporters of Oakland, too.”