Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 46 / 16 November 2017
 

Fall preview: Bay Area art galleries

Fine Arts


Joan Brown, David with Greek and Egyptian Sculptures #1 (1976), mixed media on paper. Courtesy of Estate of Joan Brown and Anglim Gilbert Gallery, San Francisco. Photo: Jay Jones
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Artwise this fall, galleries are the name of the game when it comes to adventure and the unusual. The mini-survey that follows is a glimpse of what's to come.

Richmond Art Center "Joan Brown: In Living Color," a show of works on paper, many exhibited for the first time, pays tribute to the admired Bay Area figurative artist, teacher and mentor who rejected being marginalized as a female painter or having her work condescendingly referred to as "good for a girl." "It's such bullshit," she once said. "You couldn't tell my paintings from any of the guys of my generation, except that mine were better." During a 35-year career, Brown, who achieved success prior to the explosion of feminism, refused to tow the ideological line, and remained apolitical. Instead, she concentrated on narrative and the domestic sphere, training her eye on autobiographical subjects, personal relationships, aging, spiritualism, identity and motherhood; and boy, could she draw. Sept. 12-Nov. 18. richmondartcenter.org.

Catharine Clark Gallery "Chris Doyle: Hollow and Swell," a selection of new animated works in vibrant, head-turning colors, comprises the final chapter of the artist's response to "The Course of Empire (1833-36)," a five-part series by Hudson River painter Thomas Cole that charts the evolution of a solitary landscape from rural outback to burgeoning metropolis to its deterioration into ruins. Doyle's latest exhibition is inspired by "The Consummation of Empire," the central work of Cole's cycle. But, while that piece depicted the pinnacle of neo-classical civilization, Doyle focuses on the cultural impacts of digital technology. The main event, "Swell," a 4K animation accompanied by an original score by Jeremy Turner, envisions a city whose rampant growth has been facilitated by the tech revolution at a cost to both humanity and the natural world. "The Price of Gold," a striking three-channel animation projected on a folding screen, envelops the viewer in a tangled thicket of golden branches and animal skulls. Hybrid sculptural objects, part digital, part made by hand, and watercolor renderings of the Hermitage Museum's late-18th-century gilded Peacock Clock with its trio of life-sized mechanical birds, round out the show. Sept. 9-Nov. 11. cclarkgallery.com.

Modernism "Edvard Munch: Breathe, Feel, Suffer and Love." This exhibition of 30 evocative drawings and prints (printmaking was central to Munch's practice) produced by the prolific, deeply psychological Norwegian artist between 1894 and 1930, sheds light on themes he pursued in multiple mediums. Famous images such as "The Kiss," of a couple merged in an all-consuming embrace; a less-than-holy "Madonna"; and "The Sick Child" (infirmity, illness and death were major preoccupations) echo motifs in the Munch painting exhibition now at SFMOMA. Through Oct. 7. modernisminc.com.

Fort Mason Center "Sanctuary" is the latest site-specific project from the FOR-SITE Foundation, the team behind Ai Weiwei at Alcatraz and last year's first-rate "Home Land Security." The new undertaking, laid out on the floor of Fort Mason's chapel, features varied interpretations of traditional hand-woven, Pakistani-made prayer rugs of the kind used in Muslim religious practice created by 36 artists from 22 countries, many, though not all of them, Middle Eastern. Some of the 4x6 ft. works have political overtones, challenging the notion of safe harbor and refuge, while dealing with war, displacement and issues surrounding immigration. Oct. 7-March 11. for-site.org/project/sanctuary.

Bedford Gallery "About Abstraction: Bay Area Women Painters." At this juncture, it seems preposterous to think of women as a minority group, but one might draw that conclusion based on the disproportionately low representation of their work in museums and galleries. The 16 accomplished female artists on view here, some newer, others more established, work in a wide range of styles, and have toiled in the fields of abstraction for years. Naomie Kremer, Alicia McCarthy, Cornelia Schultz and Donna Brookman are among those who get their due. Sept. 24-Dec. 17. bedfordgallery.org.

Jessica Silverman Gallery "Judy Chicago's Pussies" explores the work of the legendary, some might say notorious, feminist artist who addresses women's sexuality and agency, gender equality and the gauzy connection between the feline and the feminine. Covering a period from 1968-2004, the show includes lesser-known series such as "Kitty City" and "Early Minimalism," drawings, paintings and ceramic plates.

It's Chicago's first solo Bay Area exhibition since 1979, when "The Dinner Party" debuted at SFMOMA. That installation, which celebrated female historical and mythical figures while redressing that all-boy affair, "The Last Supper," "from the point of view of those who've done the cooking throughout history," caused quite a stir, attracting over 100,000 visitors and approximately one million during its subsequent tour. Sept. 8-Oct. 28. jessicasilvermangallery.com.

Hosfelt Gallery "Far Away Up Close" In his inimitable way, San Francisco light master Jim Campbell, an MIT-educated mathematician and engineer who makes deft use of technology, stimulates our primitive neural and sensory pathways with 15 new works that operate on either the extremely low or high end of the resolution spectrum. His most recent commission will illuminate the exterior of the top nine stories of the skyline-altering Salesforce Tower. Campbell's permanent installation will change daily in response to the city below. If only it could improve the building's architecture. Sept. 7-Oct. 14. "Stefan Kürten: Millefleur." If a house symbolizes the self, and the dream house is an idealized fantasy promising happiness, then the deceptively idyllic, glowing abodes Kurten paints, derived from the artist's snapshots of "shelter porn," suggest that beyond those high-end facades, there's trouble in paradise. Oct. 21-Dec. 2. hosfeltgallery.com.

 






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