Bay Area art museums remain flexible for fall amid pandemic uncertainty

In addition to reopening its newly renovated gardens this fall (with a new sculpture and outdoor performance stage), the Oakland Museum of California has “Edith Heath: A Life in Clay” and “Mothership: Voyage Into Afrofuturism” exhibits. pending opening dates. Photo: OMCA

With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic making it difficult to predict when public spaces will be able to reopen, visual arts organizations across the Bay Area have had to plan (eventually) to welcome visitors to their physical locations while pivoting simultaneously into the digital realm to deliver programming outside their walls. This has resulted in appointment-only visits to many galleries, socially distanced events, virtual viewing of some museum exhibits, and the postponement and cancellation of others.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art had planned major exhibitions celebrating Diego Rivera and Tauba Auerbach, but postponed them to 2022 and fall 2021, respectively. At San Francisco’s Legion of Honor Fine Arts Museums, “Last Supper in Pompeii: From the Table to the Grave” has also been postponed for the foreseeable future while exhibits celebrating Rembrandt and the Chanel fashion house have been cancelled.

“In terms of programming, there’s clearly a lot of uncertainty,” says Thomas Campbell, director and CEO of the San Francisco Fine Arts Museums, which includes the de Young Museum and the Legion of Honor.

“We need to be flexible in the short term and be guided by longer term planning,” says Sheila Bosco, facilities manager at the Oakland Museum of California. “It’s about holding the planning more lightly than usual.”

But while the lack of a clear guideline can be troubling in the museum world, where major exhibits are often planned years in advance, some leaders like OMCA Deputy Director and Chief Financial Officer Kim Carim , believe that visual arts venues have the opportunity to shape a “new normal”. ”

To that end, arts institutions are exploring ways to extend art outdoors and continue to refine their virtual programming and #museumfromhome experiences.

Bay Area Fall 2020 Visual Arts Preview

Artist Nicole Storm is installing her work at Oakland’s Creative Growth Gallery for “The Rainbow Two” show, which will be accessible by appointment or available online. Photo: Creative Growth

Virtual events


The San Jose Art Museum launches a digital publication titled 50X50 which highlights 50 artists from the South Bay institution’s permanent collection.

Available online now at

“The Rainbow Two”

Creative Growth, the Oakland art center and gallery that showcases artists with intellectual disabilities, plans to open its new painting exhibit “The Rainbow Two” by appointment only. The exhibition features artists Nicole Storm, whose works lean towards the abstract, and Ron Veasey, who works in a more figurative mode. Storm and Veasey will also be the subject of a new online viewing room.

September 14-in progress.

“The Good American”

Creativity Explore, a San Francisco art center and gallery that also showcases artists with intellectual disabilities, plans to unveil its group exhibit exploring notions of patriotism on the organization’s website. Art page.

Sept. 11-Nov. 3

Reset Conversation Series Alchemy

The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ virtual conversation series explores our responses to the pandemic and social movements of 2020. The online discussions, moderated by YBCA Program Leader Meklit Hadero and YBCA Senior Fellows Brett Cook and Liz Lerman, will continue in the fall. Visit YBCA official website for more details.

In progress.

Saint Joseph’s Arts Society Saturday Sessions

Saturday sessions will continue virtually on the Company Instagram feed this fall. The series, which had been slated to launch in-person in the spring, offers Bay Area artists a platform to share their art, dance, music, performance art, spoken word and more, in the historic church where society and multidisciplinary place founded by international decorator and patron of the arts Ken Fulk is based.

Saturdays on Instagram @saintjosephsartssociety.

“New Worlds Are Possible” by Akira Ohiso; “We Are One” by Dawline-Jane Oni-Eseleh; and Ashley Lukashevsky’s “We All Belong Here” are part of the “Projecting Grace” series at Grace Cathedral. Photo: Mahogany Moton/Grace Cathedral

Outdoor public art

“Projecting Grace”

Grace Cathedral’s monthly series projects images onto Nob Hill Cathedral and will run through the end of 2020. New images appear around the first of each month, with exact dates this fall yet to be determined. Much of the artwork will be contributed by social justice-conscious artist organization Amplify and curated by Michele Regenbogen.

Grace Cathedral, 1100 California St., SF

“I was, I am, I will be”

Chanel Miller’s new mural can be seen in the museum’s new pavilion through windows overlooking Hyde Street. The mural depicts the three steps to overcoming grief and trauma, a topic the Palo Alto-born artist explored in her 2019 memoir “Know My Name.”

On view through 2022. Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St., SF

SFAI Public Art

The San Francisco Art Institute’s new Friday night series “From the Tower: Transmission” will turn the school’s Chestnut Street campus tower into the canvas for a series of video screenings hosted by Tony Labat. Rigo 23 will also bring its large statue of Leonard Peltier to the SFAI rooftop terrace in October, which will be accessible to the public.

“From the Tower: Transmission” begins at sunset on Fridays, September 4 through October 23; Statue of Leonard Peltier on display from October 9 to April 20, 2021. San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut St., SF

“The monument as living memory”

Caleb Duarte’s large-scale architectural intervention, winner of the open call for the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, is set to be unveiled in mid-September at YBCA’s Mission Plaza, where he will transform the wall of the plaza into a canvas ever-evolving participatory.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St., SF

“Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving” at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Photo: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

To be determined

Here are shows with dates yet to be determined this fall that have the Bay Area arts community excited. Check back to each institution’s website for more updates as they become available.

Oakland Museum of California

In addition to reopening its new, renovated gardens this fall (with a new sculpture and outdoor performance stage), the East Bay Museum has “Edith Heath: A Life in Clay” and “Mothership: Voyage Into Afrofuturism” exhibits. ” awaiting opening dates.

“Heath” will explore the life and work of the founder of the iconic mid-century Bay Area ceramic company, while “Afrofuturism” will immerse visitors in art, music, literature, film and the fashion of movement.

1000 Oak Street, Oakland. 510-318-8400.

McEvoy Foundation for the Arts

“Lessons of the Hour by Isaac Julien” will have its West Coast premiere in October at the McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, and is set to include Julien’s acclaimed 10-screen cinematic installation of “Frederick Douglass: Lessons of the Hour.”

1150 25th Street, SF 415-580-7605 Building B

Gagosian Gallery

The San Francisco gallery looks at the career of innovative Beat artist Jay DeFeo in ‘Transcending Definition: Jay DeFeo in the 1970s,’ which is set to include paintings, photographs and works on paper by the San Francisco artist of the decade.

DeYoung Museum

The “Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving” exhibit, installed since March, is still hoping for in-person visits once health and safety rules allow the San Francisco museum to reopen. The traveling exhibit has been celebrated in previous incarnations for the way it showcases clothing from the Mexican painter’s wardrobe by demonstrating how she used that culture’s iconography in her self-portraits.

There’s also the highly anticipated “The de Young Open” celebration of Bay Area artists awaiting its public premiere.

50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, SF 415-750-3600.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

SFMOMA plans to open both “David Park: A Retrospective,” celebrating the Bay Area figurative artist in the first major museum exhibition in three decades, and “Future Histories: Theaster Gates and Cauleen Smith,” which juxtaposes the video art of Gates against that of Smith. photography, both exploring representations of African-American identity in American lifestyle media.

151 Third Street, SF

St. Joseph Artistic Society

This fall, the space hopes to create “A Match Made in Heaven,” a comprehensive exhibition of new work by pop-art painter Ashley Longshore, as well as a group show by Bay Area artists in association with the San Francisco Art Dealers Association to be organized by recent Saint Joseph Artist-in-Residence Erica Deeman.

1401 Howard Street, SF


Comments are closed.