Nancy Calef

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Nancy Calef is a contemporary American figurative painter, illustrator and author. Her work is distinguished by the technique of sculpting off the canvas with clay to produce paintings in three-dimensional high relief. Calef is also a singer/songwriter.[1][2]


Born in New York City, Calef graduated from the Bronx High School of Science at age 15 and received a scholarship from the College of New Rochelle to study painting and sculpture. She exhibits widely in museums and galleries in solo and group shows.[3]

Calef has lived in Europe and Thailand and has traveled throughout the U.S., Mexico, Central America, Southeast Asia, India and Nepal. She has lived in San Francisco since 1977.[4] Calef’s studio is in the city’s North Beach district where she exhibits in numerous galleries and the Beat Museum.[5]

Calef is co-author with Jody Weiner of Peoplescapes: My Story from Purging to Painting. The memoir chronicles Calef’s evolution from child model suffering anorexia and bulimia, through recovery and maturation into a multi-disciplined artist. The book contains 149 color images of her 3D oil paintings.[6] “Expressing myself through art provided a foothold to wrestle my self-destructive demons and connect to the world. I channeled those negative impulses into disciplined production,” Calef was quoted as saying in an article about her in the San Francisco Chronicle.[7]

She also speaks about the role of art therapy in treating eating disorders.[8]

Calef is also a co-author of Nothing But the Truth So Help Me God.[9] She speaks at literary and art forums including Litquake.[10][11]

She is the wife of author Jody Weiner.[12]


The Oregon Literary Review describes Calef’s oil and mixed media paintings as presenting "people juxtaposed in ordinary situations while humorously addressing issues facing society."[13] Calef calls her three-dimensional paintings "Peoplescapes."[14] Adding colorful details including sculpture fabrics and found objects, Calef’s Peoplescapes highlight society’s madness.[15]

Peoplescapes often depict such universal experiences as a demonstration, cocktail party or airplane ride. In one such painting entitled “No Free Lunch” Calef portrays a flight attendant selling gas masks, water and toilet paper to emphasize nothing is free.[16]

Writing in Professional Artist magazine, Jenny Andreasson describes Calef’s Peoplescapes as capturing “the social, political and spiritual issues facing society through a juxtaposition of faces and objects woven together into a story with a pinch of humor.[17] According to Repurposed magazine, her technique has evolved to repurposing computer monitors, motherboards and internal parts to create musical characters, a reminder of technology's dominating presence in all aspects of our lives."[18]

A progression of Peoplescapes is Calef’s “plane slashing” technique in which she tears, cuts and manipulates the plane of an existing painting while integrating it with one or more finished canvases, and then adds sculpture and found objects.[19]

In 1999 and 2000, Calef served as an artist in residence at the State of the World Forum[20] where she painted and drew religious and political world leaders including Mikhail Gorbachev and Queen Noor of Jordan.

Her painting "Modern Deluge" was shown in a 2004 national juried exhibition entitled "Perceptions of the President" at Koo’s Gallery in Long Beach, California.[21] Calef’s painting entitled “"page":0,"issue_id":360208 Hashtag Dummy POTUS” appeared in the December, 2016 issue of San Francisco magazine.[22]


  1. ^ Guthmann, Edward, "Nancy Calef Writes of Recovering from Mom's Madness", May 20, 2014, San Francisco Chronicle
  2. ^ "Conference Speakers 2012," Women's Power Strategy Conference web site, retrieved October 24, 2015.
  3. ^ Carroll, Jerry, “Missing Out on Magic” (July 8, 1998), San Francisco Chronicle, p. D2 [1]
  4. ^ Artist of the Month: interview with Nancy Calef,” The Artlist web site, December, 2009
  5. ^ Koeppel, Geri, “North Beach artist, author to talk at Beat Museum exhibit March 27”, March 27, 2015, Barbary Coast News.
  6. ^ Babu Books web site
  7. ^ Guthmann, Edward, “Nancy Calef Writes of Recovering from a Mom’s Madness” May 20, 2014, San Francisco Chronicle
  8. ^ 2016 Conference Speakers, Northern California Art Therapy Association
  9. ^ “Nothing But the Truth So Help Me God,” web site, retrieved September 28, 2015
  10. ^ Garchik, Leah, “Writing and Fighting Creative Couples Collaborating”, Litquake event moderated by Jody Weiner and Nancy Calef mentioned in “Kansas City’s contribution to this City by the Bay” October 23, 2014, San Francisco Chronicle
  11. ^ Litquake event moderated by Jody Weiner and Nancy Calef
  12. ^ Jody Weiner, dedication to Prisoners of Truth, Council Oak Books, 2004. ISBN 978-1-57178-124-6
  13. ^ Oregon Literary Review Archived December 19, 2010, at WebCite
  14. ^ McPherson, Mary (September, 2002), North Beach Journal, p.8
  15. ^ “Taking On World Issues: Part 2 – Day 132,” Artful Vagabond web site, retrieved September 28, 2015
  16. ^ Sullivan,Mia, "Peoplescapes and Travelscapes: Paintings of People, Places and Politics," Tikkun Daily, February 18, 2011
  17. ^ Andreasson, Jenny, “Artist Spotlight: Nancy Calef.” February–March, 2016, Professional Artist magazine.
  18. ^ "Wired for Sound & Electronic Music" in Repurposed magazine, issue 4
  19. ^ “Nancy Calef’s Peoplescapes,” Daily Art Muse, March 12, 2010
  20. ^ Archived December 19, 2010, at WebCite
  21. ^ Schoenkopf, Rebecca (October 1, 2004) “Monkey Business: Koo’s bring you Potus. Fear him!”, Orange County Weekly [2]
  22. ^ "page":0,"issue_id":360208 “Hashtag Dummy POTUS,” San Francisco magazine, December, 2016.

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