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Guide to Open Studios: 10+ Artists to Keep Your Eyes On

Problem: You just moved into a new apartment and need to decorate its sad, bare walls (since your landlord won't let you paint them). You've been wanting to start your own personal art collection, but the high cost of entry has prevented you from breaking into the grown-up market. 

Solution: Get it on the cheap. Take advantage of the affordable prices (works range from a hundred to a few thousand dollars) at Open Studios, and buy art straight off the artists' walls.

The 36th Annual Open Studios kicks off this weekend. From now through the end of October, you can stroll through more than 900 artists' spaces, get a feel for their working life, and support their craft (by buying a piece or maybe just signing up for their mailing list). Here, a sampling of 15 of the artists that stand out from the multi-talented pack.

Japan Meets the Mission in Letterpressed Sugar Skulls

Inspired by the iconography of the calaveras de azúcar associated with Dia de los Muertos, local artist and Mission resident Jonathan Koshi has released his second series of pop culture sugar skulls. While his first round ran the gamut from Kermit to Spy vs. Spy, this round draws directly from his Japanese heritage, transforming cultural icons like Tetsujin, Domokun, and the daruma into sugar skulls. “Growing up in Hawaii, I was influenced a lot by Japanese pop culture,” says Koshi. “One of my earliest childhood memories is of my first toy robot my parents brought back from a trip to Japan when I was 6.

Dreamscapes, A Group Show Featuring Tabitha Soren at Johansson Projects

MTV VJ turned artist? Tabitha Soren joins photographer Brice Bischoff and multimedia artist Ellen Black in a group show at Johansson Projects. The three create surreal manipulations of otherwise ordinary environments like the Sutro Baths, Ocean Beach, and the Bronson Caves in LA, in a sense illustrating the power and mystery of Mother Nature. Bischoff's vibrant colors for the Bronson Cave pieces are juxtaposed with stark black-and-white contrast in his residue prints. Soren illustrates the foreboding doom inherent in an unpredictable sea, and Black imagines apocalyptic landscapes in dreamy video scapes.

Art to Watch: September Gallery Guide

While San Francisco’s contemporary art scene is downright quaint compared to the likes of, say, Manhattan’s, this weekend’s sea of downtown gallery openings was testimony to how vibrant and overwhelming the art world can be, even in a dusty frontier town like ours.

Now the wine and cheese (or, if you’re Catharine Clark Gallery, tacos) are back in the fridge, but the art will remain quietly on display for at least a month longer. After wading through a lot of it, we’ve come up with a perfectly manageable selection of what is truly worth seeing this September.

"The City We Love" Locals Show at 941 Geary

For 941 Geary founder Justin Giarla and graffiti artist APEX, it's all about the present. The two have co-curated "The City We Love," a large-scale group show of Bay Area artists at Giarla's cutting-edge Tenderloin gallery. The exhibit of new work by local artists highlights graffiti and street art culture from the likes of Chad Hasegawa, David Ball, Chor Boogie, John Felix Arnold, and more. “I just felt that it was time to focus on doing a show with just San Francisco artists," says Giarla. "There’s a stronger community in San Francisco than people realize. The artists that we work with are here because they love it."

Fellini Meets Lewis Carroll at E6 Gallery

Conjure up memories of lonely Alice finding her way through an unfamiliar magical world in Alice in Wonderland, or relive James Henry Trotter's surreal, peachy adventure with strange insects in Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach. Now, hold tightly onto that vision, and take a gander at the images here by LA-based artistic duo Jeff Charbonneau and Eliza French. The similarities are striking, so much so that Photograph magazine referred to their work as "Fellini's take on Lewis Carroll."

Photos: Latte Art Competition at Dolores Park Cafe

The Dolores Park Cafe hosted a Latte Art competition last night, drawing in competitors from as far away as Los Angeles. From swans to indecipherable scribbles, the contest was quite the spectacle. Check out the photos.

The Art of Buying Art Online

When was the last time you set foot in a gallery and felt comfortable enough to inquire about pricing and potential payment plans for a piece of work you had your eyes on? As much as the stone-cold gallerist times are behind us, let's face it—buying art can still be an intimidating process.

There used to be the stigma that buying art online meant you weren't buying real art, but times they are a-changing. In 1999, Artnet started selling online but ended those auctions a few years later after losing millions. Then in 2000, Richard Gipe—a gallery owner in Arkansas who was appalled at the lack of technology in the art world—launched a website where you could scroll a catalogue of artists and purchase their works (shopping cart and all).

Sea Change: Marx & Zavattero Gallery's 10th Anniversary Exhibition

While celebrating the newest galleries in the SF art scene is great, we can't forget to give a nod to the ones who've been successfully cultivating artists for years. Marx & Zavattero, a Union Square institution since 2001, is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a two-part show titled "Sea Change."

The show will pay special homage to the six artists that have been with Marx & Zavattero since the beginning: Davis & Davis, Stephen Giannetti, Matt Gil, Liséa Lyons, William Swanson, and Forrest Williams. Not a typical retrospective, "Sea Change" will instead represent the gallery's broader aesthetic, with an eye towards its curatorial future, highlighting artists both old and new. While all of these artists represent a variety of mediums, it's their commitment to process and their irreverence for trends that ties them all together.  

A Tarantino/Coen Tribute Royale at Spoke Art Gallery

A fan fury is on its way into town. As if one art tribute to a cult director(s) isn't enough, take two. The Spoke Art Gallery is bringing its traveling tribute to two cinematic greats — Quentin Tarantino and The Coen Brothers — to us.

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