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More than two years after the start of the coronavirus shutdowns, the Bay Area’s visual art scene has not only rebounded from pandemic delays, but also has pushed forward with exciting new developments.
In addition to promising exhibitions this fall looking at local icons (artists Joan Brown and Bernice Bing, activist Angela Davis), big themes (incarceration, family dynamics, the Holocaust) and even a major celebrity curator (music legend Elton John), the season will also see the opening of the new Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco. Clear your schedules — there’s an abundance of beauty awaiting.
Cantor Arts Center
The Cantor Arts Center’s Asian American Art Initiative will continue with two fall exhibitions.
Featuring photographs, film, and video “At Home/On Stage: Asian American Representation in Photography and Film” investigates Asian American artists’ conversations around identity and representation with a focus on work made since the term “Asian American” was adopted in 1968.
“East of the Pacific: Making Histories of Asian American Art” will be the largest exhibition in the initiative and showcase 96 objects from 1880 to 2021 highlighting the Cantor’s growing collection of Asian American art. It explores how the United States has been fundamentally shaped by its interactions with different Asian cultures.
“At Home/On Stage: Asian American Representation in Photography and Film”: Aug. 31- Jan. 15.
“East of the Pacific: Making Histories of Asian American Art”: Sept. 28-Jan. 29.
11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday. Free, reservations required. Cantor Arts Center, 328 Lomita Drive, Palo Alto. 650-498-1480. museum.stanford.edu
California College of the Arts Wattis Institute
A new three-part exhibition, “Drum Listens to Heart,” delves into concepts of physical and sociopolitical percussion.
It kicks off its first chapter with works by sculptor Milford Graves, video works by Marcos Ávila Forero and an immersive installation by Em’kal Eyongakpa.
The exhibition is curated by Wattis director and chief curator Anthony Huberman, with companion performances curated by Diego Villalobos on-site and at the Lab in the Mission District.
“Drum Listens to Heart”: Noon-6 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. Chapter one, Sept. 1-Oct. 15; Chapter two, Nov. 9-Dec. 17. Free. 360 Kansas St., S.F. 415-355-9670. www.wattis.org
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
“Undoing Time: Art and Histories of Incarceration” tackles the history of the prison industrial complex as a way of understanding our present incarceration crisis.
At the center of the show will be new works by artists including Carolina Aranibar-Fernández, Juan Brener, Xaviera Simmons, Stephanie Syjuco and Mario Ybarra Jr.
“Undoing Time: Art and Histories of Incarceration”: 11 a.m.- 7 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday. Sept. 3-Feb. 18. $10-14. Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, 2155 Center St., Berkeley. 510-642-0808. www.bampfa.org
Jack Fischer Gallery
Photographer Gay Block’s “Rescuers of the Holocaust: Portraits by Gay Block” debuted 30 years ago, but antisemitism and denial of Nazi atrocities unfortunately remain contemporary.
The exhibition will feature 28 color portraits of people who saved Jewish citizens during the Holocaust. Block’s short film, “They Risked Their Lives: Holocaust Rescuers,” is also scheduled to screen in the adjacent media room.
“Rescuers of the Holocaust: Portraits by Gay Block”: 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Sept. 3-Oct. 15. Free. Minnesota Street Project, 1275 Minnesota St., S.F. 415-725-0308. www.jackfischergallery.com
In a thrilling marriage of subject and curator, photographer Peter Hujar will be celebrated in a new, 50-photo survey spanning two decades curated by music legend Elton John.
Hujar was a gay man whose work often focused on male eroticism, New York’s underground cultural scene of the 1970s and ’80s and performers like the Cockettes, Peggy Lee and Warhol superstar Jackie Curtis.
John is a longtime photo collector whose own career and interests have touched on many of the same themes and subjects.
“Peter Hujar Curated by Elton John”: 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. Sept. 8-Oct. 22. Free. Fraenkel Gallery, 49 Geary St., S.F. 415-981-2661. www.fraenkelgallery.com
SOMArts Cultural Center
In partnership with the San Francisco Foundation, SOMArts plans to present the 2022 Murphy & Cadogan Contemporary Art Awards Exhibition. The awards are given to young, emerging artists from master of fine arts programs throughout the Bay Area.
In the show curated by Kevin B. Chen, you may see the next Bay Area art star among the awardees whose work is on view.
2022 Murphy & Cadogan Contemporary Art Awards Exhibition: 3-5 p.m.; 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday; noon-2 p.m. and 2:30-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Sept. 10-Oct. 7. Free. SOMArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan St., S.F. 415-863-1414. www.somarts.org
“Fabricave” creates an enchanted environment of fiber and textile work focusing on texture and innovative use of cloth. Quilts, fashion, tapestries and other forms of fabric art will be considered from a sculptural perspective by 17 artists from the art center and gallery focusing on neurodiverse creators.
“Fabricave”: 4 p.m.-7 p.m. Thursday; by appointment Friday; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 16-Nov. 5. Free. Creativity Explored, 3245 16th St., S.F. 415-863-2108. www.creativityexplored.org
McEvoy Foundation for the Arts
The McEvoy Foundation for the Arts celebrates its fifth anniversary with an ambitious show focusing on the use of color in modern and contemporary works. At the center of the exhibition will be four new commissions by Bay Area artists Sadie Barnette, Angela Hennessy, Clare Rojas and Zio Ziegler.
There will also be works from the McEvoy Family Collection on display, including painting, sculpture and photography by Etel Adnan, David Alekhuogie, William Eggleston, Marilyn Minter, Gordon Parks and David Benjamin Sherry.
“Color Code”: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. Sept. 23-Jan. 21. Free. McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, 1150 25th St., Building B, S.F. 415-580-7605. www.mcevoyarts.org
Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art
California-born artist Loie Hollowell will be the subject of her first U.S. museum exhibition at the UC Davis museum.
“Loie Hollowell: Tick Tock Belly Clock” is expected to showcase paintings and drawings focused on her exploration of her own body and experiences. Among the series will be new works created in 2020-21 during Hollowell’s second pregnancy.
Also on view will be “Roy De Forest: Habitats for Travelers: Selections from the Manetti Shrem Museum,” celebrating the recent gift of prints from the artist and UC Davis professor emeritus’ estate.
“Loie Hollowell: Tick Tock Belly Clock” and “Roy De Forest: Habitats for Travelers: Selections from the Manetti Shrem Museum”: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays, Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Sept. 25-May 8. Free. Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, 254 Old Davis Road, UC Davis. 530-752-9623. www.manettishremmuseum.ucdavis.edu
Museum of the African Diaspora
“The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion” will highlight the work of 15 contemporary fashion photographers whose work has pushed for new perspectives and expanded representation in the industry.
The exhibition features more than 100 works, including images by Tyler Mitchell, who in 2018 achieved a major breakthrough as the first Black photographer to shoot a Vogue cover, at the behest of subject Beyoncé Knowles.
“The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion”: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Oct. 5-March 5. $5-10. Museum of the African Diaspora, 685 Mission St., S.F. www.moadsf.org
Asian Art Museum
Two very different exhibitions make the Asian Art Museum a must-not-miss venue this fall.
“Into View: Bernice Bing,” which opens Sept. 30, will highlight San Francisco Chinatown-born Bing, ranging from paintings in the 1950s and ’60s straddling Abstract Expressionism and figuration to her work of the 1980s and ’90s exploring practices of Zen calligraphy and Western abstraction.
“Lost Kingdoms of Ancient China” explores the art, music and literature of the Zeng and Chu kingdoms and will feature new archaeological discoveries never before exhibited. It’s scheduled to open Oct. 7.
1-8 p.m. Thursdays; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays-Mondays. $15. Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St., S.F. www.asianart.org
Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco
The new museum in Dogpatch plans to officially open with the site-specific installation “This Burning World” by artist Jeffrey Gibson. The work will intervene with the architecture of the newly renovated building that will include breaking through the museum floor as well as the installation of natural objects, projected elements depicting climate disasters, performance activations, and a vinyl-wrap covering the building exterior.
“This Burning World”: Noon-5 p.m. Wednesday; Noon-7 p.m. Thursday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Oct. 1-March 26. Free. Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco, 901 Minnesota St., S.F. www.icasanfrancisco.org
Oakland Museum of California
Renowned Bay Area activist Angela Davis will be the subject of a new exhibition featuring more than 130 objects, including posters, print media, courtroom sketches, wanted posters, art work and photographs.
The show celebrates Davis’ place in history and popular culture as well as explore how contemporary artists continue to expand on that legacy in their depictions of her.
Many of the materials in the exhibition will come from the collection of Oakland archivist Lisbet Tellefsen, who specializes in art and ephemera related to the Black Power movement.
“Angela Davis — Seize the Time”: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Sunday. Oct. 7-June 11. $7-$16, free for children 8 and younger. Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St., Oakland. 510-318-8400. www.museumca.org
Contemporary Jewish Museum
Utilizing more than 60 images, “Gillian Laub: Family Matters” will present the New York-based photographer’s documentation of all the complex feelings and situations evoked by her own family.
The exhibition, in its West Coast premiere, follows the journey of the Laubs over two decades with both a loving and at times critical gaze directed at her relatives.
“Gillian Laub: Family Matters”: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. Oct. 13-April 9. $16. Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., S.F. 415-655-7888. www.thecjm.org
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco’s own Joan Brown is the subject of a new in-depth retrospective.
Although most prominently known as a painter, the exhibition will feature a variety of media in its reassessment of Brown, who was inspired in her often autobiographical art by her experiences living and working in the Bay Area.
In her 35-year career, she created in both abstract expressionist and figurative styles, as well as heavily referenced metaphysical themes in her later work.
“Joan Brown”: 1-8 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Monday. Nov. 19-March 12. $19-$25. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third St., S.F. 415-357-4000. www.sfmoma.org