While in San Francisco this week for the fairs, be sure not to miss these exhibitions at galleries and museums around town.
“Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963—1983”
November 9, 2019—March 15, 2020
First organized by the Tate Modern, the de Young museum’s take on “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963—1983” celebrates work made by black artists (like Barkley L. Hendricks and Barbara Jones-Hogu) at a time when race and identity dominated private and public communication. Putting a focus on the Bay Area, the presentation features works by local artists who display themes like personal and cultural pride, solidarity and empowerment, and activism. The show is also accompanied by a lineup of programming including events with renowned performers, artists, musicians, activists, civic leaders, and artists.
“Long Story Short”
Fraenkel Gallery Financial District
October 24, 2019—January 18, 2020
On the occasion of its 40th anniversary, Fraenkel Gallery presents “Long Story Short,” a celebratory exhibition and accompanying publication. Containing 60 photographs spanning the roughly 180-year history of photography, the exhibition offers glance at the evolution of the medium. Beginning with an 1849 daguerreotype, the show unfolds through photographs by names like Berenice Abbott, Man Ray, Helen Levitt, and Diane Arbus, also including artists whose work is not strictly photography, like Sophie Calle, Wardell Milan, and Mel Bochner.
SFMOMA South Beach
October 26, 2019—February 17, 2020
Named for the Ronald Reagan-era term referencing how a country’s “soft” assets (culture, political views, and foreign policies) can be more influential than coercion and violence, the exhibition “SOFT POWER” explores the ways creatives use art to explore their roles as citizens and social actors. Organized by Eungie Joo, the show features new and recent works by 20 artists like Tuan Nguyen, Carlos Motta, Cevdet Erek, and Nikhil Chopra, including 15 commissioned works, and is accompanied by a program of talks with artists, performances, and other events.
“No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man”
Oakland Museum of California Oakland
October 12, 2019—February 16, 2020
Without the trouble of trekking to the desert, visitors at the Oakland Museum of California will be able to experience one of the most celebrated cultural events in the world through “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man.” Making its final stop in California after traveling to locations throughout the U.S., the exhibition was conceived as an immersive, multi-sensory experience that highlights the ten principles of the festival (including radical inclusion, gifting, decommodification, radical self-expression, communal effort, and participation). Works on view include pieces like Duane Flatmo’s Tin Pan Dragon, an anonymously taken aerial photograph of the festival’s Black Rock City, and a 40-foot-tall outdoor temple by David Best.
Mike Henderson: The Black Paintings
Haines Gallery Financial District
January 2—March 28, 2020
Coinciding with Mike Henderson’s inclusion in the de Young museum’s “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963—1983” is a showcase of paintings created in the early 1990s entitled “The Black Paintings.” Known best for his brightly colored creations, the works on view differ from his usual practice, as their primary palette is colors on the gray scale. To create each painting, the surface of the canvas has been layered and scraped with thick sections of dark paint, intermingled with jewel-like hints of blue, red, and yellow.
Leilah Babirye: Gwe Is Ye Nze, Lekka Mbele Nze (You Are Not Me, Let Me Be Me)
Rebecca Camacho Presents
January 15—February 28, 2020
With a multidisciplinary practice centered around activism, Leilah Babirye’s body of new work transforms found objects from the streets of New York into art that addresses the human rights issues and homophobia that fueled her move from Uganda. Coming to the United States in 2015, Babirye left behind family and friends for the sake of her own survival after being publicly outed in a newspaper. In the years since, she has established a studio in Brooklyn, where she blends traditional West African techniques with debris like metal, plastic, and wood to create works that challenge traditional ideas of gender, fluidity, and power.
Serge Attukwei Clottey: ADESA WE
Ever Gold [Projects]
January 11—February 29, 2020
Translating to “storytelling home,” Serge Attukwei Clottey’s exhibition “ADESA WE” features a selection of new large-scale mixed media wall hanging works, sculptures in wood and bronze, and charcoal drawings. Named in reference to the narrative style of Clottey’s work, the exhibition offers an interweaving of stories that look at current political, social, and environmental issues, his own ancestral migration, and other family histories. In his practice, the artist often uses plastic cut from Kufuor containers—water barrels distributed by the former Ghanaian president, John Kufuor, which have since been proven to contain harmful chemicals— which he repurposes into masks and other pieces of art.
Simon Denny: Security Through Obscurity
January 14—February 22, 2020
For Simon Denny’s San Francisco debut exhibition “Security Through Obscurity,” the artist has created a series of new sculptures, wall reliefs, and framed works, often inspired by the materials from which they’re made. After acquiring a selection of scarves at an auction of the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s estate, Denny used them to create bespoke imitations of Patagonia sleeping bags and Nano Puff power vests, creating an underlying sociopolitical narrative. And with old British army blankets, the artist created a series of “Global Charge” sculptures, in which he attaches plastic tablecloths to walls using static electricity.
Rashaad Newsome: To Be Real
Fort Mason Center
January 10—February 23, 2020
An exhibition environment of collage, sculpture, and interactive A.I., Rashaad Newsome’s “To Be Real” was inspired by ballroom divas, haute couture, and African art. At the center of the show (which was named for Cheryl Lynn’s 1977 queer anthem) is Newsome’s cloud-based A.I., Being, which is filled with the works of radical authors, revolutionaries, and theorists, like Paulo Freire and Michel Foucault. Other works on view include the immersive King of Arms Ballroom and the sculptural work Ansista, a nonbinary form composed things like of parts from a sex doll, drag padding, a wig, and a dress that blends traditional African and drag ballroom styles.
Man Ray: The Mysteries of Château du Dé
Gagosian South of Market
January 14—February 29, 2020
Gagosian’s San Francisco location is presenting an exhibition of film, sculpture, and photography by Dada and Surrealist-movement artist Man Ray. Entitled “The Mysteries of Château du Dé,” the show is centered around Ray’s films Amak-Bakia, L’Étoile de mer, and Les Mystères du Château du Dé, created between 1926 and 1929, and screened throughout the length of the exhibition. Known as being one of the first artists to not stick to the confines of one single artistic medium, the sculptural works and photography included can be connected to his film work and often observed within the films themselves.