The arts are back with a vengeance this spring in San Francisco and around the Bay Area.
From innovative art fairs to explosive dance performances to award-winning theater, these evocative exhibitions and productions will help to remind you of the beauty in our collective humanity.
Art Galleries, Museums + Fairs
(Eric Stracke, Courtesy of Art Market San Francisco)
Aili Schmeltz and Katy Stone: Receiver
This exhibition at Oakland’s Johansson Projects features works by two artists looking to the natural world for inspiration, Aili Schmeltz and Katy Stone. The show will combine sculptural elements, textile processes and paintings that tie personal stories to shared landscapes, and explore our connections to and place in nature.
// March 4 through April 23; Johansson Projects, 2300 Telegraph Ave (Oakland), johanssonprojects.com
Pedagogy of Hope: Uncage, Reunify, Heal
This exhibition presented by Galería de la Raza at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts surveys the work of the Caravan for the Children Campaign, an effort to demand the release and reunification of migrant children separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border. Through photography and textiles, Pedagogy of Hope examines the group’s efforts and celebrates the humanity of immigrants in search of happiness.
// March 10 through May 29; YBCA, 701 Mission St (SoMa), ybca.org
Alice Neel: People Come First
Radical social justice champion and painter Alice Neel lands at the de Young this spring with a retrospective of her work, the first on the West Coast. Her paintings, drawings and watercolors depict the artist’s New York neighbors, political figures, activists, and queer figures and celebrate the dignity of all individuals.
// March 12 through July 10; de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr (Inner Sunset), deyoung.famsf.org
Rotationships: A Solo Exhibition by Augustine Kofie
In Augustine Kofie’s Rotationships, the artist explores the idea of salvaging the forgotten remnants of the past. Using paper stock and pressboard from the 1950s through the 1980s, he presents a stripped-down artistry through futurist aesthetics.
// March 12 through April 9; Heron Arts, 7 Heron St (SoMa), heronarts.com
The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited
Get ready for the Muppets and their trailblazing creator, Jim Henson, to take over The Contemporary Jewish Museum. The exhibition highlights the puppeteer’s groundbreaking television and film work and its social impact with 150 objects from the worlds of Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth, as well as elements from his experimental and early projects.
// March 31 to August 14; CJM, 736 Mission St (SoMa), thecjm.org
Art Market San Francisco
After a two-year hiatus, the expansive Art Market returns to SF's Fort Mason Festival Pavilion for four days in April. The fair will feature contemporary and modern work from 85 galleries around the world—among them Bay Area outfits like Chloe Gallery, Electric Works, and Hashimoto Contemporary—and provide a vibrant atmosphere for collectors and the art-curious to connect with dealers and the works they showcase. // April 21-24; Fort Mason Festival Pavilion, 2 Marina Blvd (Marina), artmarketsf.com
Thank you to our partners at Art Market.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to Zellerbach Hall, March 29th through April 3rd.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
For the first time in two years, the exceptional Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall with five separate programs. Each will feature new works by contemporary choreographers like Rennie Harris and the company’s current leader Robert Battle, as well as classic Ailey performances such “Revelations” from 1960.
// March 29 through April 3; 101 Zellerbach Hall #4800 (Berkeley), calperformances.org
The Tip of My Tongue
A company of entirely multilingual, minority, and immigrant dancers with the David Herrera Performance Company take on this piece exploring communication as a tool of cultural visibility, perseverance, and connection. Created by guest choreographer Antoine Hunter, the work uses real life experience to challenge the idea that all Americans speak English. March 31 to April 2 on the Steindler Stage at Z Space.
// 450 Florida St (Mission), zspace.org
Alameda's Waterfront Park Launch Fest
Imagine a perfect day that begins with a ferry ride across San Francisco Bay. You'll disembark and hop a free trolley to Almanac Beer Co., where you can enjoy a hazy IPA before walking to Alameda's newly minted Waterfront Park. You'll be treated to an afternoon full of alfresco performances, in celebration of the park's opening, presented by the West End Arts District, Rhythmix Cultural Works, and the City of Alameda. Look out for the Oakland-based Axis Dance Company of disabled and non-disabled dancers; Crosspulse Percussion Ensemble, which is "part international drill team and part polycultural rhythm section'; plus sound sculptures, theater, student ensembles, and more—all set against a stunning view of the city. Plus, food trucks!
// 1:30pm to 5pm, April 9; Alameda Waterfront Park, westendartsdistrict.org
Ballet Napantla’s Valentina
This original performance from New York company Ballet Nepantla illuminates the stories of women in Mexico’s revolutionary period. Combining traditional Mexican ballet folklorico with contemporary ballet, the work’s innovative choreography explores concepts of wealth and power, hope and despair, loss and triumph.
// April 15 -16; Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St (Mission), brava.org
Swan Lake made its American debut on the San Francisco Ballet stage in 1940. This spring, they bring the timeless classic back, this time choreographed by Helgi Tomasson. Indulge in the stunning take on this tale of love and betrayal.
// April 29 through May 8; War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave (Civic Center), sfballet.org
Boyz II Men take the Davies Hall stage on April 1st and 2nd. (Courtesy of San Francisco Symphony)
Ninth Planet: Spirals & Echoes
In their fifth “expedition,” the Ninth Planet ensemble journeys through boundary-pushing musical compositions, including those of the 2019 and 2020 winners of the Suzanne and Lee Ettelson Award. Unlike traditional symphonic or chamber music, these performances explore sonic shape and texture in sometimes discordant and distorted ways, and evoke in the listener everything from mystery to aggression.
// March 19 at 7:30pm; Center for New Music, 55 Taylor St (Tenderloin), centerfornewmusic.com
Boyz II Men x SF Symphony
The soulful harmony of the iconic ‘90s trio Boyz II Men will rise and fall with the musicians of the San Francisco Symphony when they take the stage at Davies Symphony Hall. Together, they’ll perform unforgettable renditions of some of the group's most celebrated hits, including “End of the Road,” “I’ll Make Love to You,” and “One Sweet Day.”
// April 1-2; Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave (Civic Center), sfsymphony.org
SFJazz presents our own Kronos Quartet in a three-night showcase inspired by the diversity of the Bay Area. Performing a different program each evening, the festival will feature Malian griot singer Hawa Kassé Mady Diabaté; trombone and tuba star Jacob Garchik’s take on the music of Spielberg films; and the 13-movement piece “Cadenza on the Night Plain.”
// April 7-9; 201 Franklin St (Civic Center), sfjazz.org
San Francisco Playhouse will premiere Water by the Spoonful on March 16th.
Water by the Spoonful
This intense drama by writer Quiara Alegría Hudes, author of hit In the Heights, explores the boundaries of family and community across physical and cyber space. The 2012 Pulitzer Prize–winning play hinges on Elliot, a returning Iraq war vet working at Subway while trying to become an actor, and offers a heartfelt meditation on redemption.
// March 16 through April 23; San Francisco Playhouse, 450 Post St, Fl 2M (Union Square), sfplayhouse.org
Fefu and Her Friends
Performed in American Conservatory Theater's non-traditional Strand space, Fefu and Her Friends is an immersive tour through the lives of eight women who have gathered together at a New England country home in 1935. Taking place in four rooms of Fefu’s home, the play is an intimate, provocative, funny, and searing look at womanhood by Cuban-American playwright María Irene Fornés. // March 24 to May 1; The Strand Theater, 1127 Market St (SoMa), act-sf.org
The African-American Shakespeare Company hasn’t yet released many details about its upcoming production of Shakespeare’s Richard II, but there is one thing we can be certain of: The classic play, translated into modern verse by Naomi Iizuki, will speak to the Black experience in an innovative and spellbinding new way. An inside source tells us to expect a cool Afrofuturist vibe.
// April 16 to May 1; Marine’s Memorial Theater, 609 Sutter (Union Square), africanamericanshakes.org