Grachis, Dimitri (1932-2021)
Dimitri Grachis (1932-2021) attended the California School of Fine Arts on the GI bill during its golden years of 1954 through 1957. He was one of the early “Beat” artists exhibited at the fabled Six Gallery along with fellow students and painters Wally Hedrick, Deborah Remington, James Kelly, Sonia Getchoff, Julius Wasserstein, and Roy DeForest. And he also showed at the short lived East West gallery.
After the Six Gallery closed, Grachis opened the Spatsa Gallery. Here he exhibited many of his colleagues from the Six Gallery including Joan Brown, Bruce Conner, Wally Hedrick, Jay DeFeo and Roy DeForest. Dimitri Grachis was one of the first Northern California minimalist painters, and quite possibly the first painter to explore geometric abstraction in the Bay Area, although similar work was being done by John McLaughlin down in Southern California.
Spatsa Gallery lasted only four years in San Francisco, but they were four crucial years, 1957-1961, as the assemblage art associated with the Beats bridged into the abstract expressionism and cubism of the 1960s. Spatsa was artist-run by its owner, Dimitri Grachis, who lived in the office behind the storefront on Filbert Street at Fillmore.
“Dimitri Grachis showed some of the most important artists of the 1950s for the first time in their career,” said John Natsoulas, publisher of both “The Spatsa Gallery,” in 1992, and “The Beat Generation Galleries and Beyond, 2010.” “Without his vision, it is highly likely that the Beat Generation art of that period would have died.”
Spatsa was the first to give Bruce Conner a solo show of his assemblage art made from cast-off materials. Conner went on to become one of the most famous filmmakers and assemblage artists of his time. Spatsa also showed the work of Manuel Neri and Michael McClure. The gallery at 2192 Filbert St. in Cow Hollow served a crucial function for the Beats because it came along at the same time the nearby Six Gallery — made famous when Allen Ginsberg first read “Howl” there in 1955 — was going out of business.
San Francisco Chronicle
The 8 Gallery, San Francisco