My paintings and drawings currently revolve around human relationships and connections, between themselves and their environments.

Beginning with very basic information, I allow the process to offer new alternatives and directions as I work. This spontaneity creates a tension that requires resolution to complete the image. Like jazz, the image evolves from chance encounters; sometimes with the frenetic energy of free jazz, sometimes as smooth as a swing ballad. The outcome of this process is never certain—surprise, frustration, and discovery are my trusted guides.


When I received my BFA from Arizona State University in 1966 I initially focused on photography . But in the early-1970’s my interest shifted to drawing and I began a career as an illustrator. My work received recognition from the NY Society of Illustrators, the LA Society of Illustrators, the San Francisco Art Director’s Club, Communication Arts Magazine, and others. During the 1980’s-1990’s I specialized in publication design and was the Design Director for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy from 2000 to 2014. Originally from Winslow, Arizona, I now live in Oakland, California where I paint in acrylics and draw with pastels.

Follow the instructions to the door. When you get to the door, throw the instructions away.

– Gene Holtan

A Partial List of Exhibits


“Left Coast Annual” Sanchez Art, Center, Pacifica, CA

“8X10”, Faultline Artspace, Oakland, CA


  • Warehouse 416, Oakland, CA
  • “Small Works” at ArtWorks Downtown, San Rafael, CA
  • “Depictions”, A group show of portrait based work, Gray Loft Gallery, Oakland, CA


  • Group Show, Nielsen Arts, Berkeley, CA
  • “IYKYK”, Group Show, Oakland, CA
  • “It’s all Relative”, Gallerie Valerie, Crockett, CA. (Solo Exhibit)
  • ‘Renewal”, Belvedere-Tiburon Library, Tiburon, CA
  • Voss Gallery, San Francisco, CA
  • Face to Face, Arc Gallery, San Francisco (virtual exhibit)
  • Art Route 2022, Art@Archer Gallery, Oakland, Ca
  • Pictures of People, De Young Museum, San Francisco, CA (Virtual Gallery)
  • Relations, Faultline Satellite Gallery, Faultline Artspace, Oakland, CA (Solo Show)
  • Falkirk Spring 2022 Juried Exhibition, Falkirk Cultural Center, San Rafael, CA


  • All About Women, Marin Society of Artists, San Rafael, CA


  • The de Young Open, de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA
  • Falkirk Spring 2020 Juried Exhibition, Falkirk Cultural Center, San Rafael, CA


  • Abstracts Matter, Gallery 311, Raleigh, NC
  • Bold Expressions 2019, Sacramento Fine Arts Center, Carmichael, CA
  • Real and Imagined, EBMUD Art Gallery, Oakland, CA (with Melani McKim-King)


  • Relations, Art@Archer, Oakland, CA (Solo Show)
  • Circumstance: Social Justice, June Steingart Gallery, Laney College, Oakland, CA.
    (With Melani McKim and Leslie Plato Smith)
  • Recent Abstracts, Caffe 817, Oakland, CA (Solo Show)
  • Remastered, Faultline Artspace, Oakland, CA


  • Boundaries & Balance, ACCI Gallery, Berkeley, CA
  • Artistry through deaf eyes, Studio Door Gallery, San Diego, CA
  • 2017 Fall Annual Juried Exhibition, Falkirk Cultural Center, San Rafael, CA
  • Figures & Faces, Pacific Art League, Palo Alto, CA.
  • Group Show, Warehouse 416, Oakland, CA


  • Sketchbooks, Piccolo Press, San Francisco, CA


  • Group Show, Canessa Gallery, San Francisco, CA


  • Art Museum of Santa Cruz County, Santa Cruz, CA (Traveling exhibition)
  • Clark Humanities Museum, Scripps College, Claremont, CA
  • Vernon R. Alden Library, Special Collections, Ohio University, Athens, OH
  • Minnesota Center for the Book Arts, Minneapolis, MN
  • Davidson Library, Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA
  • John Hay Library, Brown University, Providence, RI
  • Olin Library, Mills College, Oakland, CA


  • M Lowe & Co., Berkeley, CA


  • Second Story Gallery, Seattle, WA*
  • Boise State University, Boise, ID
  •  Farrington-Keith Creative Arts, Dexter, MI
  • Triton Museum of Art, Santa Clara, CA


  • Harper College, Palatine, IL
  • Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL
  • Chemekata College, Salem. OR