Autumn is upon us and that means back to school, back to work, and back to the stage—yep, arts season is in full swing.
In September, look for the season openings of the San Francisco Symphony and Opera; the SF Fringe Festival; and Alexandre Singh's A Gothic Tale at Legion of Honor.
October brings the premiere of new work from Alonzo King's Lines Ballet; The Art of Burning Man at OMCA; and Litquake's 20th anniversary festival. Come November, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will bring magic to the Curran.
Mark your calendars and get tickets for this season's best arts and culture happenings in the Bay Area.
September 2019: Bay Area Arts + Culture Events
Eric Antoine: Useful Lies
Dolby Chadwick Gallery, 210 Post St. (Union Square), dolbychadwickgallery.com
In this photo exhibition, the popular French artist reveals the way that light can change the perception of an object through various reflections of the same subjects. // Opening reception is 5:30-7:30pm, Thurs. Sept. 5.
Africa State of Mind
Sept. 5 though Nov. 15
Museum of the African Diaspora, 685 Mission St. (SoMa), moadsf.org,
Curated by British writer/broadcaster Ekow Eshun, Africa State of Mind presents works by 16 photographers from 11 countries across the continent, all exploring their own ideas of Africanness. This is its only U.S. showing.
The Body Electric
Sept. 6, 2019 through Jan 26, 2020
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St. (SoMa), ybca.org
In this West Coast debut, 45 artists working in mediums ranging from photography and sculpture to video and virtual reality will explore how the advent of technology has shaped our collective understanding of our bodies, with particular emphasis on gender, sexuality, race, and class.
San Francisco Symphony
2019-2020 season opens Sept. 4
Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave. (Civic Center), sfsymphony.org
On September 4th, the San Francisco Symphony's opening night gala will celebrate longtime music director Michael Tilson Thomas, who's taking the stage for his final season. The lineup this year promises to be stellar, including a concert with Metallica (Sept. 6) to christen the new Chase Center; a series honoring Beethoven's 250th birthday (Jan. through June, 2020); the world premiere of Mason Bates' World's Greatest Synth (April 16-18, 2020); and more.
San Francisco Fringe Festival
The Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy St. (Tenderloin)
The largest theater festival returns to the city with 100 performances by 21 indie theater companies over 10 days. With all acts chosen by live lottery, Fringe is a totally un-curated, anything-can-happen festival that promises humor, darkness, sexuality, intellect, and all kinds of weirdness. // For a complete list of performers and tickets, go to theexit.org/fringe.
San Francisco Opera
2019-2020 season opens Sept. 6
War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave. (Civic Center)
Wherefore art thou, Romeo? You'll find him on stage at the SF Opera's opening night gala performance on Friday, September 6th. The fall season will include other operatic classics—look out for The Marriage of Figaro (Oct. 11 through Nov. 1)—but first catch Billy Budd (Sept. 7-22), the story of an innocent young naval officer based on the novella by Herman Melville, directed by Tony Award–winner Michael Grandage. // For a full schedule and tickets, go to sfopera.com.
Alexandre Singh: A Gothic Tale
Sep. 7, 2019 through Apr. 12, 2020
The Legion of Honor, 100 34th Ave. (Sea Cliff), legionofhonor.famsf.org
The Gothic literary tradition of 19th Century Europe mixes up with San Francisco's cinematic history of film noir in The Appointment, the debut short film, commissioned specially by the Legion of Honor, of the French author/playwright Alexandre Singh. Expect a thrilling mystery.
Matt Lipps: Where Figure Becomes Ground
Sep. 12 through Oct. 19
Jessica Silverman Gallery, 488 Ellis St. (Tenderloin), jessicasilvermangallery.com
L.A.-based photographer and artist Matt Lipps challenges clichés found in both men's and women's magazines through this series of works featuring cut-out imagery from iconic 1990s fashion campaigns as well as documentary photographs culled from U.S. Camera Annual, a periodical published from the late 1930s through the '60s largely geared toward male professional and amateur photographers. Lipps ultimately implodes a series of polarities: shallow commerce versus deep investigation; ephemeral style versus timeless documents; and femininity versus masculinity.
Giuseppe Penone: Leaves of Bronze
Sep.12 through Nov. 9
Gagosian, 657 Howard St. (SoMa), gagosian.com
In his first San Francisco exhibit, Italian artist Giuseppe Penone—a proponent of the radical Arte Povera movement, which uses "poor" and unconventional materials such as soil or plant matter to evoke a preindustrial age—showcases a selection of works in bronze, stone, and marble illustrating the relationship between humans and the natural world.
Miner Auditorium at SFJazz, 201 Franklin St. (Hayes Valley), sfjazz.org
Gen-Xers may equate him with those Ocean Spray commercials he did back in the 1990s, but Bobby McFerrin is an iconic vocalist celebrated for his range—able to vibe from jazz to a capella to classical—and sense of fun. Catch McFerrin live with some special guests. // Tickets ($40-$110) are available at sfjazz.org.
The Mending Project
Sep. 19th through Dec. 8
Montalvo Arts Center, 15400 Montalvo Rd. (Saratoga), montalvoarts.org
Have an article of clothing in need of mending? Visual artist Lee Mingwei has imagined a space where you can bring your threads for repair and sit down with a volunteer "mender" for a talk while she creatively mends your item. Garments will remain in the installation space as part of the art work until the closing reception, when visitors can retrieve their things.
October 2019: Arts + Culture Events in the Bay Area
Alonzo King Lines Ballet
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 700 Howard St. (SoMa), linesballet.org
A trio of famed collaborators returns to work with SF's beloved contemporary ballet company: This season's Lines Ballet premiere features the jazz stylings of tenor saxophonist Charles Lloyd and pianist Jason Moran, as well as another light art installation by San Francisco's own Jim Campbell. // For more information and tickets ($45-$95), go to linesballet.org.
The Continuous Thread
Oct. 4 through Dec.14
SF Arts Commission Main Gallery, 401 Van Ness Ave. (Civic Center), sfartscommission.org
Back in April, SFAC welcomed more than 150 members of Bay Area Indigenous communities to be photographed in the Civic Center spot where a famously controversial and racist mural once stood. The Continuous Thread: Celebrating our Interwoven Histories, Identities and Contributions is an exhibit of the resulting photography, and its opening kicks off the three-month American Indian Initiative including exhibits, a temporary light-art project, community celebrations, concerts, a film festival, a fashion show, and more. // Opening reception 6-8pm, Friday Oct. 4.
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
Hellman Hollow and Lindley & Marx Meadows (Golden Gate Park)
Betty LaVette, Margo Price, Steve Earle & the Dukes, The Waterboys, Jackie Greene, The Meat Puppets, The Milk Carton Kids, and Calexico are among the acts playing everyone's favorite free outdoor festival in Golden Gate Park this year. // For more info and schedule, go to hardlystrictlybluegrass.com.
Kahlil Joseph: BLKNWS
Oct. 10 through Nov. 25
Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, 328 Lomita Dr. (Palo Alto), museum.stanford.edu
California artist Kahlil Joseph reflects on the Black American experience—and its limited representation in the media—in this two-channel video broadcast displayed on two side-by-side monitors. The work has also been on view at the Venice Biennale.
Litquake's 20th Anniversary
Venues across SF, litquake.org
On October 10th, join 7x7 at Monroe for a roaring 20s-themed opening night party to celebrate Litquake's 20th annual literary festival. This year's lineup of quakers and shakers includes Tobias Wolff, Michelle Tea, Mallory O'Meara (The Lady From the Black Lagoon), and Ingrid Rojas Contreras (Fruit of the Drunken Tree), as well as several special events. As always, it all culminates in the Lit Crawl through the Mission. // Head online for the full schedule of events; tickets on sale Sept. 9.
City of Souls: Día de Los Muertos
SomArts, 934 Brannan St. (SoMa), somarts.org
Referencing artist Rene Yañez's 2001 exhibition City of Miracles, this year's celebration of Día de Los Muertos features traditional and contemporary altars and new media art installations housed in a luminous cityscape honoring people, places, and social movements.
No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man
Oct. 12, 2019 through February 16, 2020
Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St. (Oakland), museumca.org
Calling all burners: The exhibition that first ignited the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery with massive sculptures, art cars, and photography celebrating Burning Man makes its West Coast debut at OMCA this month. Expect the showcase to spill outside of gallery walls: A specially commissioned 40-foot art temple by sculptor David Best will grace the museum grounds.
Long Story Short
Oct. 24, 2019 through Jan. 18, 2020
Fraenkel Gallery, 49 Geary St. (Union Square), fraenkelgallery.com
Gallerist Jeffrey Fraenkel celebrates 40 years in Union Square with Long Story Short, a curation of 60 photographic works and a companion book that highlights the gallery's idiosyncratic approach to the medium. Look for works from Carleton Watkins, Alfred Stieglitz, Man Ray, and Sophie Calle, as well as the U.S. debut of a new animation by Christian Marclay.
Oct. 26, 2019 through Feb.17, 2020
SFMOMA, 151 Third St. (SoMa), sfmoma.org
During the Reagan era, culture, political values, and foreign policies were among the country's "soft" assets that were considered to be more influential than violence or coercion. This exhibition underscores the power that artists have in exercising their their roles as citizens and social actors through the works of 20 international artists.
November 2019: Arts + Culture Openings in the Bay Area
Harry Potter and The Cursed Child
Oct. 23, 2019 through May 2020
The Curran, 445 Geary St. (Union Square), sfcurran.com
This new play by Jack Thorne—which follows an adult Harry Potter, now an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, and a husband and father of three school-age children—is the most awarded production in the history of Britain's Olivier Awards. It is presented at The Curran in two parts, which you can see in same-day performances, in non-consecutive performances, or each on their own. // Tickets (starting at $59 per part) are available at harrypottertheplay.com/san-francisco.
"Exactly," They Said
Z Below, 470 Florida St. (Mission), zspace.org
This festival brings short stories written by California writers to the stage, word for word. Don't miss the writers salon featuring Greg Sarris and Amy Tan.
Napa Valley Film Festival
Multiples venues, napavalleyfilmfest.org
Food and wine meet films in this festival throughout the Napa Valley, from Yountville to Calistoga. Get ready for film screenings, vintner dinners, and a gala night with food and drink from more than 50 restaurants and wineries. // Full schedule to be announced as of press time.
Sylvia Fein / Matrix 275
Nov. 13, 2019 through March 1, 2010
Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA), 2155 Center St. (Berkeley), bampfa.org
At 100 years old, Contra Costa-based surrealist painter Sylvia Fein is still working. An early, influential figure in the Midwest Surrealist movement of the mid-20th century prior (before she relocated to Northern California in 1947), Fein is known for combining portraits and landscapes of her daily life with a whimsical world of symbolism. This exhibition highlights the depth of her creativity.
SF International Hip Hop Festival
Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon St. (Marina)
Back for its 21st year, this festival presented by Bay Area hip-hop legend Micaya promises groundbreaking dance performances by companies from around the globe. Get ready to move your body and enjoy the 80s vibes. // Watch for the full lineup at sfhiphopdancefest.com; tickets are available at cityboxoffice.com.
Chang Dai-Chien: Painting From Heart to Hand
Nov. 26, 2019 through Apr. 26, 2020
Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St. (Civic Center), asianart.org
He is one of the most acclaimed Chinese artists of the 20th century. To mark the 120th anniversary of his birth and 47 years since his previous solo show at the museum, the exhibition spotlights Chang's groundbreaking modernization of ink painting.