In 2017, San Francisco was named one of the most inspiring cities in the U.S.
by Architectural Digest
, and for good reason. The region has a long history as a national art capital, dating back to the establishment of the California School of Fine Arts in 1871, now named the San Francisco Art Institute.
A close second to Los Angeles’ art scene, San Francisco beckons artists young and old from around the world to its eclectic mixture of galleries and opportunities. There is an assortment of art galleries in the remarkable city of San Francisco. Read on to learn of just a few noteworthy options to open your mind’s eye.
1. de Young Museum
A historic gallery established in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park in 1895, the de Young Museum
is an intrinsic pillar in the city’s culture. Millions of inhabitants and travelers have visited this prized possession over the years. In 2015, the de Young Museum introduced its new world-class facility, integrating art, architecture, and the natural landscape in one multifaceted location following a five-year closure. The gallery showcases treasured collections of 17th through 20th-century American art, textiles, and art of Oceania, Africa, and the Americas.
Current exhibits include Hung Liu: Golden Gate (金門) and Nampeyo and the Sikyátki Revival. The Hung Liu exhibition is free to the public and showcases the life of Hung Liu under the Maoist regime. Using her Socialist Realist fine art training, Hung Liu re-creates archival photos as historical paintings. Her pieces narrate the intricacies of migration, both domestic and international. For an enlightening story of a Chinese immigrant’s journey to California, don’t miss this crucial exhibit on display until March 12, 2022.
Discover the intersection of art and utility with the ingenious work of world-renown potter, Hopi-Tewa, Nampeyo. During her lifetime and even today, Nampeyo is possibly the most notable potter from the American Southwest. The single-gallery exhibit highlights her work along with various examples of Hopi pottery from her time.
Given the additional assortment of African, Oceanic, American art, and more, it is impossible to leave de Young Museum without an enlightened mind.
2. Gefen Gallery
Presenting the Bay with innovative and contemporary works from international and emerging artists, the Gefen Gallery
remains a prominent gallery to this day. Gefen provides three galleries totaling over 10,000 square feet of exhibition space. All featured artists are highly revered for their work in various media forms, from sculpture to painting. Each exhibition showcases a multitude of artists.
Some new arrivals include works by David Hollier, Joel Amit, Robin Austin, David Gerstein, and Craig Alan. In-gallery and website visitors are more than welcome to inquire about individual pieces and their price points. Joel Amit’s metal wall sculptures will bring a sense of childlike wonder and whimsy to your imagination, while David Hollier’s acrylic paintings will provoke thoughts on the U.S.’s progress on pressing social matters. Craig Allen’s mixed media pieces are awe-inspiring, and Benda’s LED mirror sculptures will brighten your world.
Additional artists featured include Julien Marinetti, Bena, Falcone, and Leon Bronstein, among others. Step into the vast and varied world of contemporary art of the highly distinguished Gefen Galleries.
3. San Francisco Women Artists Gallery
San Francisco Women Artists
is a historic non-profit art organization that continually supports and promotes Bay Area artists, with a firm commitment to advancing equity in the art world. This institution has provided exhibition opportunities and welcoming space for the community to observe art since 1887. The SFWA Gallery features ceramics, glass art, hand-crafted jewelry, and contemporary art.
The SFWA Gallery August exhibition, Bold. Colors! runs until August 27th, 2021, featuring works by Arlyne Charlip, Karen Gann, AnneKaren Glass, Kathleen Gross, Cheryl Guerrero, and more. Every piece is for sale and will add joy and color to your metropolitan world. Past showings range greatly in provocative subject matter, from exhibits like Art and Activism to La Femme, along with the forthcoming Abstract World exhibition begins in September.
Head to the SFWA Gallery to view a stunning array of women-created works and gather inspiration for your own life’s endeavors, artistic or otherwise.
Twin Walls Mural Company, Our Ancestors’ Wildest Dreams, 2020 (in process)
Become a member of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
to delight in first access to exhibitions, free admission for you and guests, and more. This esteemed institution is one of the largest modern and contemporary art museums in the United States and is a flourishing cultural center in the Bay Area. SFMOMA’s collection of sculpture, photography, paintings, architecture, design, and media arts are nestled in a LEED Gold-certified building. On top of the seven gallery floors, the museum provides 45,000 square feet of free, art-filled space accessible by all.
Ongoing exhibits include Approaching American Abstraction, Bay Area Walls, German Art After 1960, and more. Peer into the creative minds of local artists exploring pressing issues of our time with the Bay Area Walls series, or explore the experimental sculptures and paintings of the early 20th century via the Open-Ended presentation.
In addition to ongoing collections, the selection of rotating exhibits currently includes everything from large-scale video installations to artwork made from everyday objects. The Diana Markosian: Santa Barbara exhibition shines a light on the nature of Diana Markosian’s family and their pursuit of the American dream via a series of staged photos and a narrative video. For a very different exhibition that floods your senses with various sights and sounds, check out the Nam June Paik exhibition, bridging art, music, performance, and technology in innovative ways.
The extensive displays at SFMOMA will ensure you are endlessly entertained and stimulated.
5. San Francisco Art Exchange LLC
The San Francisco Art Exchange LLC
(SFAE) gallery was founded in 1983 and remains a world leader and pioneer in selling and representing vital pop culture photographs and artwork. The SFAE features legendary pin-up artists Alberto Vargas, album cover artists Roger Dean, Storm Thorgerson, and many more. Additionally, art by John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and over 100 prominent music industry stars are showcased here.
Dozens of photographers are also represented, including Lew Allen, Janette, Beckman, Joel Bernstein, Harry Benson, Bruno Bernard, and more. Bruno Bernard, also known as “Bernard of Hollywood,” was a highly sought-after glamour photographer of Hollywood’s Golden Era, capturing Marilyn Monroe’s beauty behind a lens on various occasions. He even took the well-known photograph titled Marilyn Monroe in White II, The Seven Year Itch, in 1954. Benson also photographed the Beatles during various circumstances and captured iconic images of other world leaders, celebrities, and historical events.
Other world-famous celebrities featured include The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, and many more. Some photos are available in various sizes in print form, while others are originals that require inquiry as to their price. You can find a plethora of exceptional and beloved album covers, candid photography, and monumental moments in iconic celebrity history in this fine gallery.
6. City Art Cooperative Gallery
What City Art Cooperative Gallery
lacks in size, it makes up for in fascinating art. The gallery’s beginnings were paved by a group of artist friends who dreamed of a feasible place to show their work regularly. Additionally, they wished to open up membership to other artists who struggle to find an outlet to showcase their craft. The group formulated a way for artists to “rent” a wall space for a month and, in turn, receive a minimum of 70% of sales. This setup remains a thriving business tactic for artists to show their quality work while the gallery’s offerings remain fresh, exciting, and varied.
Many fabulous artists show their work here, including Eko Wright, Cleng Sumagaysay, Oleg Kislyuk, Rebecca Dearden, and Sarah Breivis. Check out Sarah Breivis’s carefully handcrafted metalwork incorporating fine gemstones to create her wearable art. Oleg Kislyuk will have you questioning the world and our perception of it via patterns, such as symmetry, growth patterns, and stochastic patterns created by the wind on a smooth surface. Take a glimpse into the world of Cathryn Sumagaysay-del Rosario (Cleng Sumagaysay) via her introspective paintings.
A safe space for up-and-coming artists to showcase their craft, City Art Cooperative Gallery is a genuinely remarkable and sacred place.
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