From the Gold Rush in the late 1800s to the Conceptual art movement of the 1960s to the moment Leo Villareal’s Bay Lights first illuminated the San Francisco Bay Bridge—the world’s largest LED light sculpture—San Francisco has shone with a generous appreciation for art. And artists like Bruce Nauman, Jay DeFeo, Richard Serra, and Tom Marioni are not the first, or last, to call San Francisco their home. Since the ’80s, art galleries have clustered downtown in the city’s Union Square district; however, tech boom spikes in rent have led galleries to expand into new neighborhoods and spaces—like warehouses in Potrero Hill, named San Francisco’s new contemporary art district (pre-dated by the ever alternative Mission District), or emerging galleries in the city’s infamously gritty Tenderloin. At the start of 2014, as “David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition” winds to a close at Golden Gate Park’s de Young Museum, SFMOMA continues their massive expansion project, and FOG Design+Art debuts as the city’s premier modernism fair, we offer a look at six local art galleries to keep you in the San Francisco know. Visit their booths at FOG Design+Art:
No stroll through the downtown Union Square arts district should be without visit to John Berggruen Gallery, the two-floor exhibition space that has held court in the neighborhood since 1970. The gallery specializes in 20th-century American and European paintings, drawings, sculpture, and limited-edition prints, and at FOG Design+Art fair, will show—among others—Chuck Close’s paper pulp portrait of Philip Glass, Bruce Cohen’s distinctive, contemporary realist interiors, Olafur Eliasson’s Super Star sculpture, and an etching from San Francisco-born Richard Serra’s Paths and Edges series of 2007.
Also based near Union Square, Highlight Gallery, founded 2011, exhibits international and American artists in a context intended to spark dialog. At FOG Design+Art, Highlight will present a “reflective booth that begins at a center point of axis and rotates both clockwise and counterclockwise in a symmetric way using diptychs, works of similar size and content, and two-faced works.” Look for work by Facundo Arganaraz, Ben Barretto, Eric William Carroll, Filip Dujardin, Chris Fraser, Haavard Homstvedt, and Margo Wolowiec—among the highlights, Fraser’s hallucinatory glass halos and Dujardin’s digitally collaged, augmented realities.
Crown Point Press represents local favorite Tom Marioni, a major figure in the city’s art world and a leading proponent of ’70s conceptualism—but there’s a long list of artists who travel by invitation from Europe, Japan, and all over the United States to work in Crown Point’s prestigious etching studios and exhibit in the adjoining gallery. Highlights from FOG Design+Art include Ed Ruscha’s Motor City, depicting vintage car emblems; John Chiara’s fog-filled city landscapes made with a homemade, flatbed trailer-sized camera; and Robert Bechtle’s watercolor monotypes of Arkansas Street, depicting his everyday surroundings in California.
Stop into Altman Siegel Gallery today, and find Los Angeles-based painter Laeh Glenn’s “Ordinary Objects” throughout the space. Or think back to fall’s Frieze London, where a solo booth by Trevor Paglen featured a prototype for a spacecraft—a sculpture designed to launch into orbit. Since the gallery opened in 2009, Altman Siegel has featured both emerging and established artists; among them both internationally recognized museum-level artists and significant Bay Area artists that the gallery has discovered. At FOG Design+Art, Sara VanDerBeek’s Roman Women will be in the company of a triple threat by Will Rogan: a wooden-and-brass sculpture, a black-and-white diptych, and a mobile made from glass, brass, wood, paint, and string.
In San Francisco’s Mission District, you’ll find contemporary art gallery Ratio 3—a sprawling 5,000 square foot ground-floor exhibition space founded in 2004 by Chris Perez. Since the gallery’s beginnings in a small room in a Victorian apartment in San Francisco, its core group of artists has grown from names like Ryan McGinley and Ara Peterson to include new artists like Miriam Böhm and Buck Ellison. On the heels of Art Basel in Miami Beach, where the gallery showed work by Barry McGee (a frontrunner of San Francisco’s ’90s bohemian “Mission School”) Ratio 3 presents a monochrome booth housing black-and-white, ink on paper drawings by French collaborative duo Mrzyk & Moriceau, depicting contemporary visual culture in a provocative, humorous, and meticulously detailed way.
Since 2008, Jessica Silverman Gallery has built a strong presence in the San Francisco—and of course international—art scenes. After a November move to a 2,800 square-foot space in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood, the gallery begins the new year in a ground floor, corner space four times the size of it’s previous location. Known for discovering emerging and mid-career artists, there’s little surprise that the gallery’s booth was the talk of NADA Miami (a fair highly regarded for offering new and undiscovered work) and again, their booth draws attention at FOG Design+Art. At the San Francisco fair, fall under the spell of James Collins’ optical, abstract paintings, whose ridged surfaces were made using oil, household paint, and a comb-like tool that was moved across linen, and don’t miss Julian Hoeber’s alluring carved cave paintings.