Art Travel Log: San Francisco

Last late week I visited San Francisco, and of course my trip included plenty of art.

"Hennessy Youngman" at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

“Hennessy Youngman” at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

My first art stop was Yerba Buena Center for the Arts where Radical Presence is currently on view. I saw this exhibition a few years ago at the Contemporary Art Museum Houston – the site of origination. The exhibition was curated by Valerie Cassel Oliver and is the first comprehensive exhibition of black performance art. Spanning nearly 5 decades, the exhibition features some of the very best, from David Hammons to Pope.L to Xaviera Simmons, Jacolby Satterwhite, Coco Fusco, Theaster Gates, Girl [Chitra Ganesh + Simone Leigh], Jayson Musson aka Hennessy Youngman, and Dread Scott (who you may remember from his recent McColl Center residency). (Full disclosure: I watched Musson’s videos for well over a half hour, laughing out loud in the gallery. Alone.)

Pope.L at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Pope.L at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

It’s been awhile since I saw this exhibition in Houston, but my recollection is that the Yerba Buena did a better job with the installation! The larger space allowed for more room between works, and many artists occupied their own defined spaces. I like that YBCA attempted to buffer the sound some – a distraction in my first viewing.

Jacolby Satterwhite

Jacolby Satterwhite at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

I’ve long been intrigued by performance art and this exhibition is thorough, engaging, and diverse. This appears to be the last venue however, so if you are in San Francisco before October 11, I strongly suggest checking it out.

Girl [Chitra Ganesh + Simone Leigh] at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Girl [Chitra Ganesh + Simone Leigh] at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

I also visited a number of galleries, including several at 49 Geary Street. I love Carson McCullers’ novel, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, so I was happy to find this exhibition at Fraenkel Gallery based on McCullers’ opening lines. The show featured 18 artists new to the gallery.

Fraenkel Gallery at 49 Geary Street

Fraenkel Gallery at 49 Geary Street

I also popped into the Deluxe exhibition, featuring an array of works including some interesting works by Chris Wright (left) and Dennis McNett (right).

L: Chris Wright; R: Dennis McNett at the Deluxe Art Exhibition

L: Chris Wright; R: Dennis McNett at the Deluxe Art Exhibition

I also dropped by the de Young Museum to take a peek at their permanent collection which includes a nice outdoor sculpture garden featuring a Skyspace by James Turrell, sculptures by Juan Munoz, Claes Oldenburg, Zhan Wang, Beverly Pepper, and many other notable artists.

Juan Munoz

Juan Munoz

With limited time, I tackled the Diebenkorn print exhibition, and primarily focused my time in the modern and contemporary section. Anti Mass by Cornelia Parker seemed especially poignant today, as this large installation was constructed of salvaged materials from incinerated Southern churches – in this case, the result of arson.

Cornelia Parker, Anti Mass

Cornelia Parker, Anti Mass

El Anatsui at de Young Museum

El Anatsui at de Young Museum

Another amazing highlight from the trip was the Asian Art Museum. I enjoyed the permanent art collection but was even more intrigued with their temporary exhibition, 28 Chinese. This exhibition, similar to the wildly popular and widely traveled 30 Americans, features works from the Rubell Family Collection. Don and Mera Rubell visited more than 100 artists in China and ultimately acquired works from 28 of these artists. The exhibition assembles some of those works, in a variety of media. Many are simply stunning, such as Boat by Zhu Jinshi, constructed of 8,000 sheets of Chinese calligraphy paper, bamboo rods, and cotton thread.

"Boat" by Zhu Jinshi in "28 Chinese" at the Asian Art Museum

“Boat” by Zhu Jinshi in “28 Chinese” at the Asian Art Museum

It’s always good to get out and see art in other cities. But, it always makes me want more for Charlotte. These were exceptional institutions, with exceptional collections and/or curated or traveling exhibitions. It left me wondering if Radical Presence is…too…well, radical for Charlotte? While our culture primarily reflects a growing Latino population, would the Mint Museum consider hosting 28 Chinese, an exhibition that pushes forward the global contemporary art conversation? I sure do hope so.

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