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Alex Bigman

YBCA's New Room for Big Ideas Gallery is SoMA's Newest Art Space


SoMA is home to several free, non-gallery spaces offering world-class public art–they just take a little finding. To discover the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ Room for Big Ideas (RBI), though, one need only be aware of it. Its windowed corner façade opens right to a bustling, if unsuspecting, Mission Street. Now you know, and you have every reason to peek inside.

A Look at Apartheid and After at SFMOMA

Ernest Cole

“We were insiders, all three of us: Ernest Cole, Billy Monk, and me.” So begins documentary photographer David Goldblatt, your apparent guide to South Africa: In Apartheid and After at SFMOMA. “We each photographed from the inside what we most intimately knew,” he says.

Royal Treasures from the Louvre Come to the Legion of Honor

Treasures from the Louvre

While the Musée du Louvre’s decorative arts wing is being made over, its treasures of the French monarchy are displaced. And, perhaps typical of things destined disappear from their hometown, they have turned up in San Francisco – specifically The Legion of Honor. The museum has struck up an accord with the Paris institution to host this and several more exchanges over the next five years. So art lovers and Francophiles, rejoice.

SF Artist Val Britton's "Continental Interior" Installation Comes to Civic Center's SFAC Gallery

Val Britton

On Grove Street, across from the gilded, Beaux-Arts exterior of City Hall, the San Francisco Arts Commission has a space that it is no longer allowed to use as a gallery – quite. 155 Grove has been deemed seismically unsafe, which means the general public is not allowed inside, but the city does allow SFAC to put the space’s large front window to use: A rotation of artists fill the cube with site-specific installations that the public can view from outside. It is a fishbowl rife with apparent limitations that, as current resident artist Val Britton has found, give rise to unexpected possibilities.

Jay DeFeo's SFMOMA Homecoming

Jay DeFeo's "Crescent Bridge I"

There were two San Francisco homecomings last Wednesday: One for the Giants, the other for Jay DeFeo, whose long overdue retrospective the Whitney Museum in New York organized but kindly allowed the artist’s hometown institution, SFMOMA, to debut. Of course, one SFMOMA curator noted, were DeFeo, an avid Giants fan, still with us today, you can bet she would have skipped the exhibition opening for the parade.

Beat-Era Artist Jay DeFeo's Famed "The Rose" Comes to SFMoMA

Jay DeFeo

While at the core of a thriving creative community in the 1950s, Beat-era artist Jay DeFeo lived in relative obscurity. For eight years, she holed up in her Pacific Heights studio, adding layer after layer of oil paint, wood, and mica to a single canvas.

Fall Gallery Shows to Visit Now, Plus SFAI's Epic "Return" Party

Portrait Working

Gourmet hors d’oeuvres, cocktails by our boys The Bon Vivants, and performances by legendary artists and punk rock pioneers – all in the name of contemporary art. We’ve got the details on San Francisco Art Institute’s tantalizing “Return” party, as well as a selection of promising gallery exhibitions to keep in your orbital this weekend.

Spooky, Awesome Halloween-Themed Art Shows to See Now

Log Lady

Halloween art: Usually questionable, we’ll admit. Still, we can’t help getting in the spirit of the season, and there are a few SF galleries right there with us. Look forward to not one but two exhibitions paying homage to cult film directors, a virtual masquerade ball, and a few other must-sees that, while probably not devised with the holiday in mind, we think are thematically dark enough to fit the bill.

"The Radical Camera" at CJM Shows the Camera's Evolution Into a Device for Social Activism

Brooklyn Bridge

Between 1936 and 1951, a group of zealous New York photographers known as the Photo League set out to document life on the city streets. What they ended up capturing, however, was far larger. Pointing dogged, unaverted lenses at life during the Great Depression, World War II and the triumphant but troublingly conservative postwar period, the league effectively captured the tumultuous making of the America most of us have known.

Calligraphy and Dance Dominate the SF's Fall Museum Shows


Two seemingly dissimilar museum exhibitions opened this week. Out of Character: Decoding Chinese Calligraphy at the Asian Art Museum marks the first major U.S. exhibition since 1999 of China’s most revered art form. Rudolph Nureyev: A Life in Dance at the De Young pays homage to a legendary ballet dancer and choreographer. Both, interestingly enough, put dance front and center.

Calligraphy does not open up to the Western viewer by itself. At least half of its impact, as poetry, is bound to be lost on those who cannot read Chinese. The other half, as a formally beautiful and astoundingly meticulous form of abstract painting, has the potential for more universal appreciation. A good curator, though, is required to pave the paths of entry.

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