11 Most Influential Women in the San Francisco Art World
Wendi Norris, owner of the gallery of the same name. (Photo by Steven Brandsetter)

11 Most Influential Women in the San Francisco Art World

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This is a woman's world.

Well, maybe not yet. But if the pussy-hat-wearers and #metoo whistleblowers and #timesup advocates and Hollywood starlets and badass female chefs have anything to say about it (and you know they do!), it will be soon. But did you know that the art world is already at the cutting edge?


According to a study by The National Center for Arts Research, women are already conquering the art world. Ladies have leading roles at 48 percent of American museums, and 54 percent of our small and midsize galleries are female-owned. In fact, some of the country's most prestigious art institutions are directed by women—including Lisa Phillips, of New Museum in New York; Anne Pasternak, of Brooklyn Museum, and Martha Tedeschi, of Harvard Art Museums—who pioneer innovative new programs and promote up-and-coming artists and burgeoning communities.

The Bay Area, unsurprisingly, is in step with this revolution, with fearless women of power at every major museum and dominating our gallery scene. Meet the local ladies who are changing the rules and shaping a supportive environment to bolster both local artists and our city's reputation as an international leader in art.

(Mary Ellen Hawkins)

Ruth Berson, SFMOMA's deputy museum director, curatorial affairs.

Her inspiration. "I have always believed that art has the power to change lives, to connect all of us, to inspire creativity. And as we are currently seeing, when times are tough, museums can provide trusted places to gather and to feel a sense of community."

In process. "A year after opening in the new building, we are undertaking an inclusive strategic planning process that reaffirms our commitment to contemporary art and, just as importantly, to creating a sense of belonging for our community. One inspiring upcoming example is our partnership with the City College of San Francisco, which will bring their spectacular and enormous mural, Pan American Unity, as the centerpiece of our 2020 Diego Rivera show. It is going to be installed in a free-of-charge gallery at SFMOMA and will provide an opportunity to engage CCSF students and all our visitors in Rivera's rich mural legacy through a work he created right here on Treasure Island."

The Bay Area can do better. "The city has long been a place that nurtured artists, and all those who value free expression and creativity, people ready to build a better world. Any great city in the 21st century needs to find ways to support a thriving ecosystem for the arts, helping not only presenting organizations, big and small, but also audiences and artists themselves. Affordability for people from all walks of life to experience the arts and studio space for artists are key. And a robust arts curriculum in schools will develop culturally literate and imaginative citizens who will contribute to the future of our special city."

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