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One of SF’s coolest wine bars is opening an art gallery in a former watch shop

Cole Solinger (left) and Nicolas Torres (right) pose in front of House of Seiko, the former watch shop they're opening as an art gallery this weekend. | Courtesy House of Seiko

The tastemakers behind Buddy, one of the city’s most stylish wine bars, are opening an art gallery. House of Seiko, named for the historic watch shop that previously inhabited the space, is opening in the Mission on Saturday, Jan. 14. 

House of Seiko is a collaboration between Buddy’s Nicolas Torres and curator Cole Solinger. Torres and Solinger first met at Solinger’s last gallery, Delaplane, which opened in 2019 and shuttered in March 2022. Soon after they met, Solinger began to curate rotating exhibitions at Buddy. When the old watch shop two doors down from the bar became available, Torres’ landlord approached him to see if he was interested in a second storefront. He said this new venture is the natural next step in his and Solinger’s creative partnership. 

“Opening an art space was the best thing for us,” Torres said. 

The team plans to exhibit contemporary art—including sculptures, drawing, painting and photography—from local, national and international artists.

“We’re looking to make some connections and enliven the community by putting together thought-provoking programming,” Solinger told The Standard. 

As for the name, Solinger said that it felt important to them to preserve that historical vestige. “It feels essential to the identity of the space.” 

Torres and Solinger have planned a calendar of programming until early next year with exhibitions to run for six to seven weeks at a time. “We’re hoping to establish it as a keystone space that folks can rely on,” Torres said.

House of Seiko’s first exhibition aims to move the needle toward that goal. Called “Cardinal Index,” it features the work of eight California artists, including Davina Semo, Colter Jacobsen and Marisa Takal. Solinger and Torres said they hope the show lays the groundwork for House of Seiko’s future, “an essential measure of work by eight artists to prime the ground on which the gallery stands,” as Solinger wrote in a press release.

The art gallery will retain the storefront's historic sign. | Courtesy House of Seiko

“Cardinal Index” also showcases the team’s intergenerational approach to curation by including emerging talent, as well as artists who have been making work for more than 30 years. “Everyone in the show has a deep love and connection to the community,” Solinger said. 

Solinger also emphasized that House of Seiko fills a cultural need in San Francisco. “With the closing of certain institutions, there’s a lack of approachable spaces.”

Solinger himself is a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, a celebrated art school that closed in the summer of 2022 after operating for more than 150 years.

He said he hopes to curate compelling contemporary art that meets the community in the present while honoring the past. “It’s a bridge that needs rebuilding,” he said. 

“Cardinal Index” opens Saturday, Jan. 14, with a reception between 7 and 10 p.m. It runs until Feb. 25.

House of Seiko