January 2016

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The new BAMPFA building, which melds the 1930s Art Deco UC Berkeley printing plant with a new construction.

The huge news this week is the opening of the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive this Sunday in its stunning new location. Designed by internationally recognized architectural firm Diller Scofido + Renfro, the museum occupies what had been the UC Berkeley printing plant integrated with a new structure. The space is refreshingly light-filled and welcoming, and, importantly, shows off the artwork well. The inaugural show, “Architecture of Life” well establishes the museum’s role in being encyclopedic and academic, while also being accessible: the show features over 250 works spanning two thousand years and explores the idea of architecture both as a practice as well as a metaphor. The show succeeds in drawing well-thought and highly enjoyable connections to a broader concept of architecture without being so steeped in academia as to require vast background knowledge. It also incorporates well-known artists with those lesser known or more obscure, showing the wide breadth of the museum’s curatorial reach and expanding the viewers’ breadth of experience, and the quality throughout remains consistently high. This is a truly gorgeous and engaging exhibition, and it shows off well in this beautiful new home.

A couple other shows I’m really enjoying right now . . .

“Dumbballs: David Ireland and His Circle,” at Gallery Anglim Gilbert, San Francisco (through Feb. 27): As mentioned in my last post, there is a David Ireland love-fest going on around the opening of 500 Capp Street (as well there should be): in addition to the opening of the house museum are two exhibitions featuring Ireland’s work. It’s an amazing time to become immersed in the work of this highly influential artist. This show at Anglim Gilbert not only includes some important work by Ireland, but by featuring pieces by conceptual Bay Area peers as well as younger artists he has had an impact on, further establishes him as a central and innovative figure in conceptual art.

Leo Villareal, “spacetime,” at fused space, San Francisco (through March 21): Widely known here for his enthralling Bay Area lights project, Villareal presents a show of smaller-scale works that are at moments dynamically engaging and at other times soothingly meditative. They provide an opportunity to experience a wider offering from this internationally acclaimed light sculpture artist.

Happening tonight! The inaugural exhibition by CTRL+SHFT, an Oakland-based women’s artist collective, with the group show “Soft Serve.” Opening is from 6 to 10 p.m., and the show runs through February 19. The group was recently a recipient of Southern Exposure‘s Alternative Exposure grant.

Opening January 30, Berkeley: “Here, Part II: What Cannot Be Said,” curated by Natasha Boas, at the Berkeley Art Center. An opening reception will take place Saturday, February 6, 6 to 8 p.m. An talk curator Boas and BAMPFA director Larry Rinder, titled “What Does It Mean to Think about Abstraction?” will take place Wednesday, February 24, at 6 p.m.

Opening February 5, Oakland: Sheila Ghidini, “A Fleeting Grace,” at Chandra Cerrito Contemporary. An opening reception will take place Friday, February 5, 6 to 8 p.m. An artist talk with Ghidini and Randy Colosky, moderated by Kevin B. Chen will take place Thursday, February 25, 6 to 7:30 p.m.


David Ireland House (interior view); upstairs hallway with “Broom Collection with Boom” (1978–88), “untitled chair,” and “wallpaper patties,” 1978; photo: Henrik Kam, taken November 2015, courtesy 500 Capp Street Foundation

Back from a holiday hiatus (and emerging from a jet lag fog), I am excited to dive into 2016: it’s going to be a thrilling year for the Bay Area art scene. To get started, here are a few shows and openings I’m particularly excited about.

5oo Capp Street, the David Ireland House, San Francisco: Opening Friday, January 15, is this unique artist house/exhibition and performance space. This is the house legendary conceptual artist Ireland called home; having a practice that melded life and art, for Ireland, his home functioned as much as a curated exhibition space as functional living quarters. This current iteration of the location finds it functioning much the same way, but now it’s open to the public. This comes on the heels of eight years of meticulous renovations and conservation, in order to return the home to its original luster, as it was when Ireland lived there. The house will feature changing exhibitions, events, and, beginning in 2017, an artist-in-residence program. This is an excellent opportunity to see the work of this seminal art figure, as well as experience living life as art. There will be several events taking place at the 500 Capp to celebrate the opening.

Additionally, two exhibitions, at SFAI’s Walter and McBean Galleries (Jan. 14 to Mar. 26) and at Anglim Gilbert Gallery (Jan. 20 to Feb. 27), featuring the work of Ireland and its influence will be on show in conjunction with the opening of the Ireland House. The SFAI show will feature important and rarely shown works by Ireland, and the Anglim Gilbert show, titled “Dumbball: David Ireland and his Circle,” will feature works by Ireland as well as by his contemporaries and artists he influenced.

David Maisel, “The Fall,” at Haines Gallery, San Francisco (through Mar. 12): This show features a gorgeous new series of aerial landscape images Maisel shot while in Spain. These meticulously rendered works (while taken in 2013, Maisel wasn’t finished with fine tuning them until about eighteen months later) are a continuation of Maisel’s exploration of land altered by humans; here an abandoned urban development project and farm land. As much as these works serve to document a place in time, they are also a study of interconnected forms and subtle but rich coloration, to the point of being painterly (Maisel cites Richard Diebenkorn as an influence, and it is no stretch to draw such a comparison). An exceptional show.

kurimanzutto travels to Jessica Silverman Gallery, “from here to there,” at Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco (through Mar. 5): This group exhibition features both historic and new work by thirteen artists represented by renown Mexico City–based gallery kurimanzutto, which has been known for its unorthodox practices and “risk-taking” exhibitions as well as its efforts to expand the reach of the contemporary Mexican artists it represents: kurimanzutto has arranged shows in Paris and Warsaw, and now San Francisco. This show features sculpture, textiles, videos, and more; it is a special opportunity to get a taste of Mexico City’s acclaimed art scene.

Other happenings to note this month . . .

FraenkelLAB is opening soon (kind of): January 13 to 17, Fraenkel Gallery’s new project space, close to Zuni Cafe on Market Street, will feature a preview of its “adventurous” programming to come. On show will be Oliver Beer’s Reanimation (Snow White), which will be viewable from the street, dusk to 10 p.m. The gallery’s first exhibition will open April 14; titled “Home Improvements,” the show is being curated by cult film legend, artist, and part-time SF resident John Waters.

The Berkeley Art Museum reopens January 31 at its new location (2155 Center St., at Oxford), designed by New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro!

The San Francisco Arts Commission opens its new gallery space at 401 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 125 (on the ground floor of the War Memorial Veterans Building). A celebration will take place opening day, Friday, January 22, from 6 to 9 p.m. (remarks at 7 p.m.); three exhibitions will be on show.