San Francisco Bay Area artist Elly Simmons (America, b. 1955) works with a wide variety of material, including paint, pastel, collage works, mosaic, and lithographic stone. Her concern with political and social issues such as the abuse of women, homelessness and the struggle of all peoples for lives of dignity are often merged in her work with fascinating expressions of deeply felt mythic and personal imagery.

Simmons exhibits internationally and has her work in numerous public and private collections, including The Smithsonian Institution, The New York Public Library Department of Prints and Drawings, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Harlem, New York, The Center for Study of Political Graphics, Los Angeles, The Skirball Museum, Los Angeles, and the Washington Hebrew Congregation. Private collections include The Packard Foundation, Taj Mahal, Eduardo Galeano, Robin Williams, Pete Seeger, David and Kirsten Swimmer, Andrew and Joan Kelman, Roselyn Swig, Gerald Davis, Rosalie Sorrells and past President Barak Obama. 

She has exhibited, and has works in public and private collections in Iraq, England, Egypt, Russia, Poland, Japan, Ireland, Canada, Argentina, Costa Rica, Mexico, Australia, and all across the United States.

States Gary Kamiya, editor of San Francisco Magazine and author of The Cool Grey City of Love, in The San Francisco Chronicle:

"An artist who strives to address the problems of his or her time faces a tricky aesthetic balancing act. Explicitly political art often has all the depth and aubtlety of a megaphone exhortation. But at its' best, engaged art stirs both the soul and the mind, revealing the ineluctible connection between the world of the streets and the universe of the spirit, magicallyl embodying Keats' dictum that beauty is truth and truth beauty. Elly Simmons' work achieves this rare feat. It is an extraordinary blend of political passion; and artistic complexity. Her paintings wed medium and message perfectly, outrage never collapses into propaganda, nor does her work's dreamlike vitality, its' formal elegance, dilute its' fervor."

Words from Dublin, Ireland art critic, painter and music producer Gerald Davis:

"Joy", "celebration" and humour" are words that seem to be less and less used in the vocabulary of modern art. This is all the more reason that we should welcome the work of Elly Simmons. Her work is full of affirmation of life. Her paintings, graphics and tapestries bring vitality and colour whereever they are seen. Informed, since childhood, by studying the work of major Mexican, European and American artists, she takes her own experience of life in California, the climate, nearby Mexico, Central and South America, indigenous Northwest Native American art and her own Jewish culture and combines them to create her idiosyncratic vision. Art critic Harry Roche synthesized her work with the term "World Art Wave".

The accessibility of her work belies the technique that goes into making it. Whether she is using paint, designing tapestries or creating lithographs, she has mastered the craft she chooses to use. She has created her own iconography. For the children's book, "Just Like Me", when asked to explain to children what inspires her to paint, she states, "I paint my love of life! I paint pomegranates, birds,, mountains and people. I paint what gives me joy, or makes me sad or mad, I paint to protest homelessness, war and injustice, and to celebrate the beauty of a sunflower outside my door.”

Elly Simmons is currently working on the documentary film, Last Call: The Specs Film, a triptych portrait of the beloved North Beach publican, Specs Simmons, his iconic bar in San Francisco’s North Beach, and the North Beach neighborhood itself.  She continues to create art in the above mentioned media.





San Jose State University 

Bachelor of Fine Arts - Painting 

Magna Cume Laude

City College of San Francisco 

Associate of Arts

Evergreen College 

Olympia, Washington

Interdisciplinary Study


Rupert Garcia, Pastel Workshops

Mexican Museum, San Francisco, California


University of California 

Berkeley, California

Extension Courses

Fine Arts/Dance

Film Arts Foundation

San Francisco, California

Documentary Filmmaking







Last Call: The Specs’ Film:

Stories of Love, Loss and Lust in a 21st Century Bar.

Documentary film in process. Producer/Director.


Documentary on Tents of Hope

a project to end genocide in Darfur.

Francesca Roveda, Director, served as Project Consultant. 

as Artistic Director of Tents of Hope for Darfur.


Fine Art Resume



Casein, Gouache, Collage, Acrylic.


Stone Lithography Ernest DeSoto Workshop, San Francisco, California.


Jos Sances, Alliance Graphics, Berkeley, California.

Archival Pigmented Prints:

Electric Works, San Francisco, California, GaetanoDe Felice, Woodacre, California, Jay Daniel, Black Cat Studio, Novato, California.


Portraiture and Documentary


Documentary Filmmaking


Ceramic and Glass Tesserae, Collaborations with master mosaicist Elizabeth Raybee.


Collaboration with tapestry weavers Fernando Sanchez Sosa & Crispina Sosa de Sanchez, Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico.



Public Arts and Cultural Projects



2013-2018           "The Al-Mutanabbi Starts Here Book Arts Project" 

International Artist/activist

Book art project, printmaking project and

bookmark project in solidarity

with the people of Iraq.


2011                     “Cycles"

Large scale public mural at the

Marin Center for Health and Human Services,

San Rafael, California.


2007-2008            Artistic Director:

"Tents of Hope: The Painted Village Project"

International artist/activist project on Darfur. With director Timothy Nonn. In one year, over 500 painted refugee tents were created in communities around the United State in solidarity and support with the people of Darfur, Sudan. This project culminated in a Painted Tent Village on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. November 7 - 9,2009 during the first Obama presidential election. In March of 2009, over 350 Tents of Hope went to Africa to serve as shelter and classrooms for Darfur refugees.


2009                     "Cycles"

Large Scale Mural for the Marin Health and Human Services Campus, San Rafael, California.



2000                     “The Four Seasons”

San Geronimo Valley Community Center. Mosaic kitchen installation in collaboration with mosaic artist Elizabeth Raybee. Four mosaic works complete the inside space of the community kitchen that serves the San Geronimo Valley Community Center, including a food bank for community residents. The piece illustrates the four seasons in the San Geronimo Valley, West Marin, California. Images include the local deer, coho salmon, local flora and spring birds. Designed by Elly Simmons, executed in mosaic ceramic and Venetian Glass tesserae by Elizabeth Raybee.


1999                     “Life Cycle”

Large scale acrylic and casein triptych to inspire those fighting and living with breast cancer, commissioned by the Scripps Breast Care Center, Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, California.


1999                     “Welcome to the San Geronimo Valley”

The Little Store, Forest Knolls, California. Mural Project. Elly Simmons with Barbara Lawrence art directed middle school teenagers from the Lagunitas School District in a mural illustrating their community of the side of the Little Store that serves residents of The San Geronimo Valley.


1999                     "Kaiser Foundation Educational Theater Project" 

Oakland, California. Tapestry, silkscreens and lithographs for aids awareness and community organizing through theater for Kaiser Permanente youth and other members


1994                     "Commission for Eden Housing, Inc"

A low income housing development corporation. Six mosaic works, two tapestries and one mural installed in the courtyards, community rooms, and childcare center for Glanbeiry Apartments, Hayward, California. 50 affordable housing units, with in house community services.



Solo Art Exhibitions


2018                     “Poets for Al Mutanabbi Street”

Bird and Beckett, San Francisco, California.

"Spring Open Studio"

Lagunitas, California.


2017                    “Candles in the Dark: A Winter Exhibition of Works by Bay                                 Area Artist Elly Simmons"

 The Anthony Micelli Gallery, San Geronimo, California.

“Elly Simmons at Doc’s Lab”

Solo Exhibition of 30 works at the site of the historic Purple Onion, North Beach, San Francisco, California.

“Elly Simmons Summer Open Studio" 

Lagunitas, California.


2016                     “Let Your Light Shine”

A Solo Exhibition of Paintings and Collage Works by Elly Simmons, Optical Works, San Francisco, California.

“So Far From Heaven”

Poetry, Art and Music for Al-Mutanabbi Street” 12 Adler Place, San Francisco, California.


2015                     "Elly Simmons Open Studio" 

Lagunitas, California.


2011                     “Peace, Love and the Recession Blues”

Live Worms Gallery, San Francisco, California.

“If It Be Thy Will”

The Pomegranate Gallery, Soho, New York.

“Dancing Into the New Year”

Vesuvio, San Francisco, California.


2009                     “New Works”

Vesuvio, San Francisco, California.

“The Painted Village Project”

Photography Exhibition by Elly Simmons, Live Worms Gallery, San Francisco, California.


2008                     “Triptych: Three Artists, Three Cultures”

Live Worms Gallery, San Francisco, California.


“International Women’s Day”

Live Worms Gallery, San Francisco, California.

“Specs at Eighty: A Celebration”

Vesuvio, San Francisco, California.


2007                    “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize”

Vesuvio, San Francisco, California.

“New Works by Elly Simmons”

The Jeannie Dixon Gallery, Sonoma, California.

“Winter’s Edge: Visions in the Changing Season”

Live Worms Gallery, San Francisco, California.


Signature Health Care Group, Charlotte,

North Carolina.

“Images from the Northern Sun”

Joiya, San Anselmo, California.

“Temperature’s Rising”

Live Worms Gallery, San Francisco, California.

“Oh Mama, Stop that Global Warming”

California Public Utilities Commission, San Francisco, California.

“Refuge for Creation: New Works" 

Vesuvio, San Francisco, California.

"Winter Open Studio"

Lagunitas, California.

“Arbol de la Vida”

Fairfax Library, Fairfax, California.


2006                     “Due Amici”

San Geronimo Valley Cultural Center,

San Geronimo, California.

“Elly Simmons at The Rose”

The Rose, Venice, California.

“Hearts and Minds, Two Souls Entwined”

The Anthony Micelli Galleyr,

San Geronimo, California.

“Beat and Beyond”

New Works at Vesuvio, North Beach,

San Francisco, California.


2004                     “New Works,”

Julian Cohen Gallery, Windsor, California.



2003                    “Mariposas and Pomegranates”

San Geronimo Valley Cultural Center,

San Geronimo, California.


2002                     “Elly Simmons - Winter Exhibition of Fine Art”

Oliver’s, San Anselmo, California.


2001                     “Colours of America: The Soul of a People”

The Gerald Davis Gallery, Dublin, Ireland.

“Colours of America”

Chinook Gallery, San Rafael, California.

“The Fabric Of Relationship”

Gallery Route One, Point Reyes, California.


2000                    "Colours of America!!”

The Cobalt Gallery, Dublin, Ireland.

“Elly Simmons, Paintings, Prints and Tapestires”

Linda Penzure Gallery, San Anselmo, California.

“Night of the Wild Butterflies”

Chinook Gallery, San Rafael, California.

“Before the Metamorphosis”

San Geronimo Valley Cultural Center, San Geronimo, California.


1999                    “Eros, Blues and the Muse”

Chinook Gallery, San Rafael, California.


Berkeley Reperatory Theater, Berkeley, California.

“Elly Simmons X2: Prints, Paintings and Tapestries”

Art Exhibition at Two Bay Area Sites, Laney College Art Gallery, Oakland, California and ArtBeat Gallery

San Francisco, California.


1998                     “By the Fire”

The Artful Eye Gallery, Calistoga, California.


1997                     “A Women’s Life: A Celebration of International Women’s                                      Day/Benefit for The Breast Cancer Oral History Project" 

Berkeley, California.

“The Art of Hope, Struggle and Resistance: 10 Years of the Political Paintings, Prints and Tapestries of Bay Area Artist Elly Simmons,”

San Francisco State University Art Gallery,

San Francisco, California.


1996                    “Plages”

French international limited edition art magazine and exhibition. Paris, France.

Dow and Frosini Gallery 

Berkeley, California.

“Recent Works”

McKesson Plaza Gallery, Oakland, California.

"Marin Open Studio"

San Francisco, California.


1995                    “The Art of Elly Simmons”

International Women’s NGO Forum, CREO Osaka West, Osaka City Women’s Center, Osaka, Japan.

“Calling the Doves”

Studio 24, Galeria de la Raza, San Francisco, California.

“Magic Dogs of the Volcanos”

Childrens’ Book Press, San Francisco, California.

“Elly Simmons”

Brury Gallery, Marlboro College, Marlboro, Vermont.

“Blasted: Paintings and Prints” 

Tuesday Laboratory, Los Angeles, California.


1994                    “Images of the winter Sun”

Dow and Frosini Gallery, Berkeley, California.

“New Works”

Bolinas Gallery, Bolinas, California.

“Marin Open Studios”

Lagunitas, California.


1993                    “Motherline: A Family History”

The Jewish Film Festival, U.C. Theater, Berkeley, California.

“Elly Simmons: Mixed Media”

St. Francis Hospital Foundation Gallery,

San Francisco, California.


1992                    “The Woman Who Dreamt with the Sun and the Moon”

Dow & Frosini Gallery, Berkeley, California.

“The Jewish Film Festival”

U.C. Berkeley Theater, Berkeley, California.

“Translation: Bilingual Children’s Book Illustrations

and New Works”

Olive Hyde Gallery, Fremont, California.

“World Art Wave”

Art at Cleo’s, San Francisco, California.

“Political Prints”

American Friends Service Committee Gallery,

San Francisco, California.


1991                    “New Works”

Morphos Gallery (run by Catherine Clark),

San Francisco, California.

“Poetics and Social Protest,”

City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Dept.,

Satellite Exhibition Space,

West Los Angeles City Hall Gallery,

Los Angeles, California.

“New Work”

Dow and Frosini Gallery, Berkeley, California.


1990                    “Urban Expressions”

Asheville Art Museum, Asheville, North Carolina.

Bellhop Gallery, Kitakyushu, Japan.


1989                    Barbara McDonald Gallery

Sacramento, California.

“Tapestries and Lithographs”

Dow & Frosini Gallery, Berkeley California.

“Prints and Pastels: Dybbuk”

New Performance Gallery, San Francisco, California.


1988                    “Lithographs and Paintings”

Richmond Art Center Rental Gallery, Richmond, California.


1987                    3220 Gallery

San Francisco, California.


1986                    “Recent Works, Paintings & Mosaics”

J. Noblett Gallery, Sonoma, California.

“Painitngs, Pastels & Posters”

La Pena Cultural Center, Berkeley, California.

“Crimes of the Heart”

The Marin Theater Company Gallery, Mill Valley, California.


1984                   "Evergreen" 

A Center for Peace and theArts,

Mill Valley, California.

Mendocino Art Center

Mendocino, California, Awarded competition for Regional Exhibition Space, California Arts Council Funding.


1982                    “In Celebration of the Feminine Spirit“

C.J. Jung Institute, Palace of Fine Arts Theater, San Francisco, California.

“The Evolution of Consciousness,”

Asilomar, California. Association of Transpersonal Psychology.

Environmental Arts Gallery

San Francisco, California.

Jewish Community Library

San Francisco, California.


1980                    “Ferns of Chiapas, Mexico”

Helen Crocker Russell Librar, Strybing Arboretum,

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California.



Group Exhibitions


2018                    “Four Days That Buzzed the Hood”

Live Worms Gallery, San Francisco, California.

“Show of Hearts”

Macchiarini Creative Design Gallery,

San Francisco, California.


2017                    “Painters and Poets”

Macchiarini Creative Design Gallery, San Francisco, California.


2016                    “Le Valise Des Reves"

Live Worms Gallery, San Francisco, California,

“Spring Art Show”

San Geronimo Valley Cultural Center,

San Geronimo, California. 


2015                    “Five Great Painters: A Day of the Dead Installation"

Live Worms Gallery, San Francisco, California.


Studio Gallery, San Francisco, California.

"Spring Art Show”

San Geronimo Valley Cultural Center,

San Geronimo, California.


2014                     “Spring Art Show”

San Geronimo Valley Cultural Center,

San Geronimo, California.


2011                    "A Benefit for Iraqi Artists"

The Pomegranate Gallery, New York, New York.

“Oh My God: Three Kickass Women Artists”

Live Worms Gallery, San Francisco, California.

“Peace, Love, Family and the Recession Blues"

Works by family members of artist Elly Simmons, Sonia Simmons, Anita Marant, Specs Simmons & Maralisa Simmons-Cook with works by Frank Garvey, Live Worms Gallery, San Francisco, California.

“The Ninth Annual Panopticon Exhibition”

Live Worms Gallery, San Francisco, California.


2010                    “North Beach Artists”

Vesuvio, San Francisco, California.

“Spring Art Show”

San Geronimo Valley Cultural Center,

San Geronimo, California.


2009                    “Spring Art Show" 

San Geronimo Valley Cultural Center, San Geronimo, California.


2008.                   “Tents of Hope Art and Photography Exhibition”

Lutheran Church, Washington, D.C.

“The Subject is Color”

Art Foundry Gallery, Sacramento, California.

“San Anselmo Exhibition" 

The Marin Arts Council, San Anselmo, California.

“Arts on Fire”

Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica, California.

“The 18th Annual Spring Art Show”

San Geronimo Valley Community Center,

San Geronimo, California.

“The Old and the New”

The Jeannie Dixon Glleyr, Sonoma, California.

“Gallery Artists”

Galeria Exodo, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

“Now More Than Ever: Celebrating International

Women’s Day”

Live Worms Gallery, San Francisco, California.

“Maurice Del Mue, the WPA and the 75th Anniversary of the New Deal”

San Geronimo Valley Cultural Center,

San Geronimo, California.

“Poet Richard Gross, Painters Kevin Brown, Torrey Nommesen, and Elly Simmons”

The Poet’s Gallery, San Francisco, California.


2007.                   “Barbara Morris, Frank Garvey, Gaetano DeFelice

& Elly Simmons" 

California Public Utilities Commission Gallery,

San Francisco, California.

“Once Upon A Time" 

MOCHA, Oakland, California.

“Art in the Alley”

San Francisco, California.

“Refuge for Creation: A Benefit Exhibiton for Darfur"

Picture Perfect Gallery, Petaluma, California.

“Art for Land”

Fairfax, California.

“Spring Art Show”

San Geronimo Valley Cultural Center, San Geronimo, California.

“Poetry Festival”

The Poet’s Gallery, San Francisco, California.

“Bay Area Painters and Sculptors”

Claudia Chapline Gallery, Stinson Beach, California.“


© 2019 By Elly Simmons

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