When the Surrealist Met the Magical Realist

Couple unite over their love for art.


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Weber’s surrealism

Painting by Bill Weber

Bill Weber wanted to be a mad scientist when he grew up, and he may have succeeded. He studies astrophysics for fun, and when his “first good painting” was shown to Salvador Dalí, the master predicted he would cut off an ear within five years, á la van Gogh. (40 years later Weber retains all his appendages.)

Five years ago Weber met his match in Arianna Siegel, who owns up to being a little crazy, “in a good way, hopefully.” Their shared love of art was “a big draw” that brought these oil painters together, according to Siegel. The couple have lived in Alameda since 2012.

Painting by Ariana siegel

Siegel’s realism

Siegel’s works are like landscapes from a trippy family vacation, with a collaged feel of layered elements that do not quite belong in our realm. She calls her style “magical realism.” Fascinated by the scarier aspects of carnivals, in Strange Days she inserts a creepy clown and three red balloons into a scene of widows on a Grecian street, expanding upon a surreal experience in which she witnessed a woman spontaneously release these spheres, then part company with her little dog, each walking in opposite directions. “It was like something from a dream,” she says. “The magic behind the everyday is really my thing. All you have to do is be open and look and you can see magic.”

Weber signs his surrealist paintings “El Gallo”—“the rooster” in Spanish—a childhood nickname referencing his once red-dyed hair and somewhat pointed nose. Although both artists are largely self-taught, Weber considers Leonardo da Vinci to have been his teacher, and says he read his notebooks so many times, “I thought that I was him reincarnated.” His work, which also shows the influence of Hieronymus Bosch, is patently political, decrying war, greed, and the ravaging of Mother Nature. “I feel that if I paint these things, maybe Man will see how stupid it is and quit doing these crazy things,” he says. “Which of course never happens.”

More of the artists’ work can be seen at AriannaSiegelArt.weebly.com and ElGalloSurrealist.com. They can be reached at Whiterabbit2025@yahoo.com and ArtistBill_1949@hotmail.com. Their studio is located at LuckyLo, 560 Second St. in Oakland’s Jack London Square. It is open daily from 11 a.m to 6 p.m. and until 9 p.m. for the First Friday art walk.

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