The making of PANAMAX

Back in May of last year I stumbled upon a blog post about Twitter’s new office. What stood out for me the most were the paintings of San Francisco’s classic 49 Mile Drive sign. (Funny, I don’t think I originally noticed that they replaced “49” with “140”, in homage to the 140 character limit of each tweet.)

140 Mile Scenic Drive paintings for Twitter by Annie Galvin of 3 Fish Studios
Twitter’s 140 Mile Scenic Drive paintings (source: Troy Holden)

At the time I was into local street signs, so I looked up the artist: Annie Galvin of 3 Fish Studios. As much as I liked her street sign paintings, I also really dug the linocut prints done by her husband, Eric Rewitzer. I almost ordered some prints online right then, but I thought it’d be cooler to visit their studio in person, seeing as though they were located in San Francisco.

Yosemite Valley linocut print by Eric Rewitzer
Yosemite Valley, a linocut print by Eric Rewitzer

Somehow I found time in the middle of packing up our apartment to stop by their studio and pick up a copy of Eric’s excellent Yosemite Valley linocut (a present for me later). I was also stoked to see some of the paintings of the container cranes around Oakland that he’d just recently had in a show. I would have loved to buy one, but we were supposed to be saving our money and downsizing—not acquiring new large works of art. Looking back, I really love that orange one.

Eric Rewitzer with his Port Authority container crane paintings
Eric sitting with some of his Port Authority paintings

We chatted for a bit. I mentioned that I’d be taking a trip on a container ship in a few weeks, which he thought was pretty rad. I paid for the print and that was pretty much where we left things.

Once I’d found my stride blogging aboard the container ship, it occurred to me to send Eric an email with a link to my blog. If anyone would appreciate photos taken on a container ship, it’d be him. Plus I was giddy about emailing people from the middle of the ocean. The response I expected was “Wow, cool man,” but the response I got was: “Wow, cool man. Can I paint some of these?” My immediate reaction: “Of course!”

Cap Cleveland Owner's Cabin window view (in port of Philadelphia
First view out the porthole in our container ship cabin

I didn’t hear anything for a few months, but in early January he wrote back asking for some high resolution versions of the photos to work off of. Since then he’s been paintblogging the works in progress. They are very big!

Eric Rewitzer with his PANAMAX paintings, outlined
Panamax paintings with the images “chopped” in
Eric Rewitzer with his PANAMAX paintings, undercolored
Panamax paintings with undercolor painted in

Want to see the finished works up close? They’ll all be in a show this week aptly named PANAMAX (referring to the size of ships built to fit through the Pedro Miguel Locks of the Panama Canal). I’m bummed that I won’t be around to attend, but if anyone is curious to see some of my photographs rendered in paint and writ large, please stop by arc studios & gallery this Saturday, March 19th, from 6-10pm—and say hi to Eric for me.

PANAMAX Exhibition at arc studios & gallery: Kimball and Rewitzer
PANAMAX: new paintings by Kimball and Rewitzer
eric rewitzer panamax finished paintings collage
A collage of the 5 paintings Eric made based on my photos for the show. Clockwise from left, they are: Departing, Panama, Looking Port, Portal, and Above the Bridge.

Update: I met up with Eric at 3 Fish Studios to see the paintings in person (at least those that hadn’t sold yet) after returning to San Francisco in September 2011.



Very very nice artwork, especially “Portal” 48×60, do you know Eric’s price ranges for the work?

Thanks for the pictures, and the post, Justin. I have spent a lot of time with your images these last few months, and I could not be happier (unless I took the trip myself!)

Thats a great story, and I definitely love the photos. Wish I was in town to attend the show!


i love this typ of paintings…wow !!! – grafic in big format and only a few colours..
Greatings from Germany
Geli …sitting sick on the sofa ..having a lot of time to read your blog ;-)

Excellent story, Justin! And beautiful art by all three artists — I am including your photographs here.


I love 3 Fish Studio stuff. I’ve seen them at the Craft Fair for years! Their Linocut stuff is spectacular. ttys!

really cool paintings. a container ship was going so close to the land last night while we were training in the Y at embarcadero. Every time we see them we can only think of you guys and your adventure and how those weeks has been for you on the ship. happy st. patrick’s day! :-)

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