Sacramento artist Paul Guyer favors
urban energy. by Susan Caba
The original Tower Records. The big, dripping faucet over the
door of Red’s Electric and Plumbing. The façade of the Esquire
Theater (now preserved in a shiny high-rise).
The sights that distinguish Sacramento from every other urban landscape get documented in Paul Guyer’s
acrylic paintings. A mechanical engineer turned artist, Guyer, ’ 62, captures
the ever evolving intersection of time
and location in his hometown.
In a painting of the Esquire Theater,
built in 1940, the marquee touts The
Bandit of Sherwood Forest “in glorious
Technicolor.” Technology marches on:
His painting of the current incarnation shows the Esquire is now
an IMAX theater.
“In all of my works there is an instantaneousness about them,”
Guyer says. “There are people, cars, light, shadows—things that
are only there for a fleeting instant. . . . I paint the people, the auto-
mobiles and advertising signs. I call it ‘urban furniture’—the
newspaper racks and trash cans. You have to have all that to have
a real cityscape.”
Guyer took only two art classes at Stanford—and those “basically
to pad my GPA.” But he felt nurtured by a then new division
of the Engineering School. “The whole idea of the Design
Guyer, who grew up in East Sacramento, works from photo-
graphs dating from his birthdate—February 12, 1941—until the
present, and he’s especially drawn to images from the ’50s. Even
his paintings of the contemporary city evoke that “seminal time.”
“Sacramento was smaller but it had a very vibrant downtown,
with theaters, restaurants—there were no high-rise buildings.
Today, downtown is much different. The really funky part is
Midtown, to the east of downtown. Even East Sac is now very
Guyer is represented by the Solomon Dubnick Gallery,
housed in a brick structure built in 1913 for the Fuller Paint and
Glass Company. It’s now distinguished—in life and in Guyer
paintings—by the sign for the Fox and Goose Pub. He went to
school with the woman who founded the Fox and Goose in 1975.
“It’s now owned by her daughter, who runs it. . . . I do cover the
whole time spectrum.” n
Division was to get the very few mechanical engineers who
were artistically oriented and train them in product design. . . . It
was a terrific experience. It fed both sides of my brain.” He worked
as an engineer for decades, but “decided to get serious” about his
art in the ’80s.
SINCE 1941: Guyer, choosing photographs dating from his birth
date, loves the vibrancy of Sacramento’s landmarks.