The If So, What? Guide to San Francisco Art Week

By Abby Margulies

It’s no surprise that the Bay Area has become a new destination for the art and design community, given the reopening of the recently expanded SFMOMA and the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in 2016, the creation of FOG Design+Art 5 years ago, Untitled’s move to San Francisco last year, the new, gorgeous campus for the San Francisco Art Institute at Fort Mason. and the California College of the Arts planned expansion. January 10-14, timed to FOG and Untitled, art and design lovers from around the world will descend upon  the Bay Area to take in the city’s growing offerings. We’ve put together a guide to help you navigate the many art and design events happening around the city.

The Fairs

FOG Design+Art debuted five years ago at Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture and now features 45 of the world’s leading art and design galleries. In addition to booths by Galerie Chantal Crousel, Galerie Chastel Maréchal, Luhring Augustine, Nicholas Kilner, Paul Kasmin, Sadie Coles, Stuart Shave/Modern Art, and THE NEW / Twentieth, which are all newcomers to this year’s fair, visitors will be able to hear conversations and panel discussions by luminaries in the field, such as artists Jim Campbell, Isaac Julien, Lynn Hershman Leeson, and Ryan McGinley.

Meanwhile, at the Palace of Fine Arts, UNTITLED San Francisco enters its second year, and its first at this new venue. The fair will feature 50 exhibitors from 9 countries, as well as a series of curated radio and film programs, panel discussions, and talks. This year Untitled is unveiling Untitled, Cinema, an on-site film program that will feature new and historic film, video, and performance works.

 FOG Design and Art 2017, Joseph Driste Photography

FOG Design and Art 2017, Joseph Driste Photography

San Jose Museum of Art

This weekend is your last chance to catch This Is Not a Selfie: Photographic Self-Portraits from the Audrey and Sydney Irmas Collection at the San Jose Museum of Art. On view through January 14 the exhibition, organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), brings together self-portraits by Diane Arbus, Robert Mapplethorpe, Catherine Opie, Cindy Sherman, Alfred Stieglitz, Lorna Simpson, and Andy Warhol, among others. Through works by these iconic photographers, This is Not a Selfie looks at the way self-portraiture has long been a vehicle for artistic expression and social and political commentary, exploring the art historical concept of what we now think of as a “selfie.”

Pace Gallery Palo Alto

While you’re in South Bay, be sure to stop by Pace Palo Alto. You’ll need to stick around a few extra days, but the gallery will be opening an exhibition of new sculptures and paintings by Kohei Nawa, the artist’s first exhibition in the U.S. The exhibition will feature new pixelated sculptures – what Nawa calls “PixCells,” which are made out of an unexpected assortment of materials, including taxidermied animals, toys, musical instruments, and other everyday items. As an added bonus, you’ll be able to preview works by Nawa while at FOG as well.

Pier 24 Photography

One of San Francisco’s better kept secrets, Pier 24 is home to the Pilara Foundation, a renowned collection of photography. A visit to Pier 24 is free, but visitors must reserve a timed ticket in advance to keep crowds to a minimum and provide each visitor with a pleasant viewing experience. The collection was inspired by the 2003 Diane Arbus retrospective at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which led to the Pilara’s first photography purchase, a Diane Arbus work. The collection now exceeds 4,000, and includes a growing collection of emerging and contemporary photographers.

Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture

Fort Mason Center is another of the city’s gems that offers a free day of arts and culture, along with shopping and dining options for tourists and San Francisco residents alike. In January visitors will be able to catch Playtime, a video installation by artist Isaac Julien that is spread throughout three galleries, including at the new SFAI campus. The exhibition features a series of films that explore how information, labor, and capital are communicated and circulate in our modern society. Budget a few hours to get the full experience!

Meanwhile, at the Fort Mason Chapel, the FOR-SITE Foundation has installed Sanctuary, a project that invited 36 artists from 21 different countries to design contemporary rugs reflecting on sanctuary. The works explore the way the idea of a safe haven is under threat in our current society as, despite global migration, nationalism is on the rise. The exhibition offers viewers a multitude of perspectives on the basic human need for refuge and protection. Among the artists included in the exhibition are John Akomfrah, Brendan Fernandez, Diana Al-Hadid, Susan Hefuna, and Miguel Angel Rios, among others.

Of course, with all of the art and design you’ll be checking out, you’ll need a moment to rest as well. Fort Mason Center also offers a great opportunity to recharge during your art frenzy, with lunch at Green’s, a coffee at Equator, or even just a quiet stroll along the bay.