Surviving and thriving: having weathered the dot-com boom and bust of the late 1990s, the Bay Area’s art community is going strong, its museums and galleries keeping pace with a wealth of innovative emerging artists

Surviving and thriving: having weathered the dot-com boom and bust of the late 1990s, the Bay Area’s art community is going strong, its museums and galleries keeping pace with a wealth of innovative emerging artists – Report From San Francisco

Stephanie Cash

The 1990s belonged to San Francisco, epicenter of the dot-com frenzy that held the nation in its grasp. The city was flush with new wealth and a bottomless well of optimism.

But perhaps nowhere more than San Francisco did the excess of the dot-com years have such mixed results. Many existing small businesses were choked out by the kudzulike growth of the new economy. Despite the largesse directed toward a number of art institutions, most notably the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which made an unprecedented number of acquisitions, the city’s art community was among those hardest hit. A general sense of unease settled over the city as supersonic gentrification and skyrocketing rents displaced artists, non-profits and many longtime residents. Though the impact was citywide, the Mission District was the locus of the most intense development. Traditionally a Latino area with low-income housing, the locale was long attractive to artists, many of whom had moved there for the affordable living and studio spaces. For the same reason, Internet start-ups also gravitated to the area. Rebecca Solnit and Susan Schwartzenberg chronicled what happened in their 2000 book Hollow City: The Siege of San Francisco and the Crisis of American Urbanism. Their “report from the front line” looks at “the many ways that wealth can actually diminish the cultural richness of American urban life.” The low-budget documentary film Boom: The Sound of Eviction also captures the district’s hardships brought on by the “good times.”

Many in the San Francisco art world are enjoying a sense of poetic justice these days, now that the money-flaunting young dot-commers have “moved back in with their parents.” The city’s atmosphere has changed and the boom years seem like a distant memory. A calm and a sense of sanity have returned (though the artists forced out by rising rents have not). “For Rent” signs that had all but disappeared during the dot-com years are popping up again. Commercial vacancies downtown and in the South of Market (SoMa) area are reported to be as high as 20 percent; two years ago the vacancy rate was about 1 percent. Large excavated pits remain empty as companies have failed and construction projects have been scaled back or folded. And complaints abound about the esthetically bereft “loft style” apartment buildings that were thrown up around the city to appease the minions of the lustful new economy.

On the Verge

San Francisco’s dot-com-inspired braggadocio didn’t, however, rub off on the art world. “The art scene is so small, so insular” was a common, almost apologetic, refrain I heard while visiting last spring. Nonetheless, I left feeling that I had only scratched the surface. In addition, the work I saw was of consistently high quality. Despite the art community’s built-in inferiority complex, San Francisco’s mild weather, spectacular natural beauty and a laid-back vibe are among the reasons cited by the artists who make it their home. Others appreciate the freedom that comes with working away from the competitive pressures and distractions of larger art centers.

With an increasing number of homegrown artists receiving international attention, San Francisco itself seems poised to become a major art hub, though this is apparently a familiar feeling for many of its arts professionals. According to artist Gay Outlaw, “San Francisco is perpetually becoming,” but it never quite seems to get there. Something of a catch-22 situation exists in San Francisco. Like New York, it has always been a rather transient town because of the high cost of living. Then there is a tendency for many artists to leave the city–whether they are native to the area, transplants, or go there for the art schools–in order to establish their careers in places like L.A., New York or Europe.

The problem is exacerbated by the lack of a collector base that shops locally. Virtually everyone I spoke to acknowledged the need for market development. For various reasons, many collectors enjoy buying on the international circuit. Ironically, many San Francisco artists don’t receive recognition at home until they’ve had a show in New York or L.A., reaffirming the belief that you’ve got to move out to move up. It is not uncommon to hear stories of collectors buying the work of a San Francisco artist from a New York gallery, unaware that that artist had already shown in San Francisco.

And yet some of the country’s most prominent collectors of modern and contemporary art–with tastes ranging from blue chip to adventurous–live in the Bay Area: among them are Frances and John Bowes, Norah and Norman Stone, Doris and Donald Fisher, Kent and Vicki Logan (who recently moved to Vail but remain active in the San Francisco area), Charles and Helen Schwab, Evelyn Haas, Mimi and Peter Haas, Harry and Mary Margaret Anderson (familiarly known as Hunk and Moo), Pamela and Richard Kramlich, Steven Oliver, Richard and Lenore Niles, Themis and Dare Michos, and Robin Wright Moll. In June, the city lost an invaluable champion of the arts with the passing, at age 97, of Phyllis Wattis, the grande dame of the city’s art community [see “Artworld,” Sept. ’02]. Though a number of collectors are very supportive of and involved in local initiatives, perhaps no one was as influential citywide, and as admired, as was Wattis. Until the end of her life, she attended gallery and museum openings and was an active trustee of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, since 1973. She also served on boards of the Fine Arts Museums (M.H. de Young Memorial Museum and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor), the symphony and the ballet, and endowed numerous contemporary art programs, curatorial positions and artists’ residencies at various institutions.

While many collectors have their sights set beyond the Bay Area, the San Francisco International Art Exposition has helped draw attention to the local art scene. Organized by Thomas Blackman Associates, which has been running Art Chicago for 10 years, the event most recently included over 100 galleries. This fourth installment of the fair was to have been held in September 2001, but was rescheduled for January 2002 after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The fair will continue to take place every January.

While not lacking in good artists, the city suffers from a want of adequate arts coverage in the press, both locally and nationally. The San Francisco Chronicle now has only one critic, Kenneth Baker, who is the first to point out the need for multiple voices. David Bonetti was the art critic for the San Francisco Examiner before it merged with the Chronicle in 2000. For a time, Bonetti and Baker both wrote for the Chronicle, but the situation was temporary. Other coverage is provided by freelance critic and curator Glen Helfand, who contributes to the weekly alternative paper Bay Guardian and posts an on-line magazine called Stretcher ( SF Weekly also provides sporadic arts coverage. Until if folded earlier this year, the L.A.-based publication Art Issues regularly featured a San Francisco column by Mark van Proyen.

San Francisco seems to struggle with striking the right balance of international and local talent in order to avoid falling into the trap of regionalist complacency that has plagued it in the past. Schools and institutions often import artists for short-term positions and residencies, helping to provide dialogue and valuable exposure to international trends. Yet, in the end, those artists pack up and go back to the major art centers they call home. A presumably more lasting effect is achieved by hiring outside professionals with proven track records on the art-world circuit. In a 1996 interview with Bonetti in the Examiner, artist Nayland Blake, who now lives in New York, talked about the influx of new curatorial talent from outside the area he witnessed during his 12 years in San Francisco. “There was a whole wave of people who … really helped change things,” he said. Previously, “the various segments of the art world were all locked into their own orbits, and there was no communication between them.” Blake was an influential artist, teacher, writer and curator, and his departure is still considered something of a blow.

The question of whether there is an esthetic specific to the area no longer seems as relevant as it was in the ’60s and ’70s when expressive figurative painting still held a strong position in the Bay Area, contrary to the prevailing international trends. Though a plethora of styles are at play there today, a distinct and increasingly influential group of artists known for their street esthetic and murals around the city, particularly in Clarion Alley in the Mission, have recently been dubbed the “Mission School.” In his recent Bay Guardian article on such artists, Helfand singles out Barry McGee, his late wife Margaret Kilgallen, Chris Johanson, Rigo 02 (whose suffix changes with the year), Alicia McCarthy and Aaron Noble (he now lives in L.A.) as exemplars of the style. These artists are quickly rising in prominence beyond their home base. McGee, for example, had a show in the spring at Prada’s exhibition space in Milan. McGee and Kilgallen, who died of breast cancer last year at age 33, each had solo shows in 1999 at Deitch Projects in New York. A show of Johanson’s work is currently on view at Deitch [Nov. 2-Dec. 21]. Kilgallen and Johanson were both included in the recent Whitney Biennial. McCarthy had her first New York solo in June at Rare gallery. McCarthy always includes a “friendship wall” in her shows on which numerous works by her artist friends are displayed, exemplifying the community spirit that seems so pervasive in San Francisco.

SFMOMA: The Big Picture

The city’s art scene enjoyed a surge of activity in the 1990s that might be partially attributed to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). Formerly housed on the fourth floor of the War Memorial Veterans Building, the museum opened its new Mario Botta-designed building in 1995, giving the city an increased visibility in the contemporary art world [see A.i.A., May ’95]. The staples of the museum’s collection included works by Henri Matisse, Paul Klee, Philip Guston, and an important group of 28 large-scale paintings by Clyfford Still, given in 1975 by the artist, who lived and taught in San Francisco in the 1940s. German Expressionists and California artists were also represented. Aside from those and a few other highlights, however, the museum’s holdings were far from stellar, especially in comparison to institutions like New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). With a grand new building, SFMOMA needed a collection to match, so the board got down to business. The trustees are often credited with pulling the museum, if not the city’s art scene, up by its bootstraps.

The museum’s ambitious acquisitions campaign, in which around $130 million was spent over two years (1998-2000), began under former director John R. Lane, who left in 1997 after 10 years to become director of the Dallas Museum of Art, and peaked under his successor, David Ross, who headed the museum from 1998 to 2001. Wattis, who had a keen interest in the museum’s affairs and understood what it takes to make a world-class institution, was an active supporter of the campaign, helping the museum acquire works estimated to be worth $40 million. Gary Garrels, SFMOMA’s former chief curator, who is now at New York’s MOMA, worked closely with Wattis in building the collection. He says she had an “uncannily sharp eye” and was a “singular force in setting high standards.” Wattis took pride in the museum’s major acquisitions and noted that they had the added benefit of attracting international traveling exhibitions to SFMOMA through reciprocal loan agreements. For example, Magritte’s Personal Values (1952), which the museum purchased at auction in 1998, was included in the artist’s retrospective organized by Denmark’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art that appeared at SFMOMA in 2000.

While the Botta building was still under construction, some observers wondered how the museum would fill its galleries. Today, those same observers are wondering when the museum will expand to accommodate its significant new holdings, including 22 Ellsworth Kelly canvases (currently highlighted in a show that also features other Bay Area Kellys [to Jan. 5]), 14 Robert Rauschenberg works–among them his Erased de Kooning Drawing–and key examples by Mondrian, Warhol, Marden, Kiefer, Hesse, Motherwell, Twombly, Duchamp and younger artists such as Matthew Barney, Chris Ofili, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Sarah Sze and Janet Cardiff.

On the heels of its highly publicized spending spree, the museum again made national news when Ross abruptly resigned in August 2001. His controversial departure is still the subject of much gossip in the city.

Neal Benezra, Ross’s successor, assumed his post in August. A native of the Bay Area, Benezra had previously served as deputy director and curator of modern and contemporary art at the Art Institute of Chicago (2000-02). He was a curator there in the department of 20th-century painting and sculpture from 1985 to ’91, before going to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., as chief curator and then assistant director for art and public programs. Benezra got his professional start as an intern for Hunk and Moo Anderson. The SFMOMA board has been courting the pair in the hopes of acquiring their expansive collection, which includes major works by Giacometti, Rothko, de Kooning, Guston, Pollock and Diebenkorn. An exhibition of some 300 pieces from their holdings was mounted at the museum in 2000, the largest exhibition in the museum’s history. News of Benezra’s appointment was met with enthusiastic optimism in the city. Though it’s too early to know how he may impact SFMOMA, Benezra says he favors a “balanced diet” of popular and challenging shows–which may not be very different from the museum’s current programming.

Two recent SFMOMA exhibitions provide prime examples of what that balanced diet might resemble. Last spring’s Eva Hesse retrospective [see article in this issue, p. 130], guest curated by Elisabeth Sussman and co-organized with the Museum Wiesbaden in Germany, provided a rare opportunity to see the breadth of the artist’s influential and widely dispersed output. Following on the heels of SFMOMA’s fall 2001 Ansel Adams blockbuster, the Hesse show predictably turned in lower attendance figures. But, just as important, it’s the kind of exhibition that garners critical and scholarly respect. Due to the Whitney Museum’s unfortunate cancellation of the survey, SFMOMA was its only U.S. venue. Other recent SFMOMA shows of note include “010101: Art in Technological Times” (2001), a team-curated roundup of 35 artists whose work is influenced by digital technology; the traveling Sol LeWitt retrospective curated by Garrels [see A.i.A., Nov. ’00]; and exhibitions devoted to photographer Daido Moriyama [see A.i.A., Oct. ’99] and graphic designer Tibor Kalman (both 1999).

Madeleine Grynsztejn and Benjamin Weil joined SFMOMA’s curatorial staff in 2000 as, respectively, senior curator of painting and sculpture and new media curator. Grynsztejn had been curator of contemporary art since 1997 at the Carnegie Museum, where she organized the 1999 Carnegie International. Among her SFMOMA projects is a Richard Tuttle retrospective, scheduled for fall 2004. Weil was director of new media at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London and a founder of ada’web, the now-defunct art Web site. At SFMOMA, he has initiated a number of projects, including a new film series, and “CrossFade,” a Web-based sound series in conjunction with the Goethe Institut, ZKM Karlsruhe and the Walker Art Center. Longtime SFMOMA curator Janet Bishop is organizing a survey of Robert Bechtle, set to open in 2004.

The museum also gives a number of awards to local artists and designers, most notably the SECA (Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art) Award, which includes a small cash prize, an exhibition at SFMOMA and a catalogue. Winners have included McGee, Johanson, Outlaw, D-L Alvarez, Laurie Reid, Rigo, Kathryn Van Dyke, Rachael Neubauer, John Bankston and Will Rogan.

Yerba Buena: Here and Now

Directly across the street from SFMOMA is the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, which houses a theater, a performing arts space and an art gallery that functions as a kunsthalle, with particular emphasis on Bay Area art. Since December 1996, the center has been under the leadership of John Killacky, former curator of performing arts at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Visual arts director Renny Pritikin and curators Rene de Guzman and Arnold Kemp, who are artists themselves, put together a lively exhibition program that has recently included a hip-hop show, a 10-year survey of the work of the collaborative Dyke Action Machine!, and solo shows by Josiah McElheny, Ellen Gallagher, filmmaker Isaac Julien and tattoo artist Don Ed Hardy.

Last spring’s “Slowdive: Sculpture and Performance in Real Time” included conceptual and performance-related pieces by eight artists. Two of the best works were by Bay Area artists. Tony Labat, who teaches at the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), contributed a humorous three-channel video piece showing different views of a comical staged fistfight in the parking lot of a Hooters while unwitting restaurant patrons watch from inside. Recent SFAI graduate Will Rogan showed One thing I can tell you is you’ve got to be free, a quietly brilliant video comprising brief vignettes: a hat is tossed across the room and lands between the ribs of a radiator; a marble rolls across the floor and gets wedged under a door; a paper airplane floats across the screen and gets lodged, nose-first, in a door’s keyhole; a ball is bounced on the floor and lands in a glass of liquid on a table. Playing with the idea of the ready-made, Rogan also showed a series of photos of “public sculptures,” such as a plastic bag snared on an iron fence, or a wet leaf stuck to a car window. Concurrently on view at Yerba Buena was an international group show of artists’ works inspired by Dennis Cooper’s novel Guide. Upcoming highlights include a survey of works by veteran Bay Area conceptualist Tom Marioni, opening in fall 2003.

In 1997, YBCA initiated “Bay Area Now,” a biennial festival that includes an exhibition, performances and a film and video program. The first show focused on artists under the age of 40, and had an impressive roster of individuals who are now quite successful, or are on the verge, both here and abroad, and a few who have since moved away from San Francisco. Among the participants were McGee, Kilgallen, Johanson, Rebeca Bollinger, Vincent Fecteau, Stephen Hendee, Caitlin Mitchell-Dayton and Brett Reichman. The survey’s second installment in 1999, which did not have an age limit, included up-and-comers John Bankston, Amy Franceschini and the team Castaneda/Reiman, along with midcareer artists Labat, Lutz Bacher, Lewis deSoto, Raymond Saunders, Larry Sultan and Catherine Wagner. The third “Bay Area Now” runs from Oct. 26, 2002, to Jan. 12, 2003, and includes such artists as Keith Boadwee, Amy Ellingson, Jona Frank, Jo Jackson, Bob Linder, Shaun O’Dell and Bill Swanson.

Museum Projects in the Works

San Francisco also has a number of museums showing historic art that, despite the economic downturn, are forging ahead with new building projects designed by high-profile architects. The de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park has demolished its original complex, which it shared with the Asian Art Museum, to make way for a new facility on the same site designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, scheduled to open in 2005. In the interim, most of the de Young’s exhibition programs are being held at the Legion of Honor. The Legion organized a traveling retrospective of Wayne Thiebaud in 2000 and “Picasso and the War Years” in 1998, both curated by Steven A. Nash, who is now director of the Nasher Sculpture Garden in Dallas. On Jan. 23, the Asian Museum will open in its new centrally located home in the Old Main Library, renovated by Italian architect Gae Aulenti. In late August, the museum announced that it had been given 1,000 works from two sources. L.A. businessman Lloyd E. Cotsen donated more than 800 examples from his collection of Japanese baskets and tea ceremony items. A separate gift from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation of Thai paintings, sculptures, manuscripts and decorative arts from the 12th to the 19th century makes the museum a major repository of Southeast Asian art. There are also plans to beef up its contemporary art program.

The de Young sustained significant damage in the 1989 earthquake, and even after retrofitting wasn’t able to secure indemnity insurance, a necessary prerequisite for obtaining exhibition loans. The new building will contain a special wing to house Wattis’s donated collection of Oceanic art, as well as a room to house the Gottardo Piazzoni murals (removed, with much controversy, from the Old Main Library). A community group opposed to the height of the tower in the de Young’s new design (only 9 feet more than the former tower) had filed a lawsuit to halt construction; the case was thrown out by a Superior Court judge on Sept. 11.

The de Young has an eclectic collection, ranging from American paintings from colonial times to the mid-20th century, to the art of Africa, the Americas and the Pacific islands. In preparation for its new facility, the museum has acquired, through funds provided by Wattis, the complete archive of Ed Ruscha’s graphic works. The museum is also home to over 2,000 works by 77 artists from the archive of Crown Point Press, acquired in 1991. In something of a departure from its usual programming, the de Young, which doesn’t often feature the work of younger artists, mounted “Museum Pieces: Bay Area Artists Consider the de Young” while still in its old building. Curated by critic Glen Helfand, the show consisted of 18 commissioned works by emerging and established artists such as Marioni, Wagner, Bollinger, Deborah Oropallo, Maria Porges, David Ireland and Rigo 99. In 2000, the de Young hosted an exhibition of Bay Area artist Bruce Conner [see A.i.A., June ’00], which was organized by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

The Jewish Museum of San Francisco and the Judah Magnes Museum in Berkeley merged in January 2002 to form the Magnes Museum in San Francisco. Both institutions had been planning to build new facilities and took the opportunity to consolidate their efforts. Headed by Constance Wolf, formerly associate director for public programs and education curator at the Whitney Museum in New York, the newly formed entity is planning to construct a 60,000-square-foot home in a former power station near the Yerba Buena complex, with a projected opening date of 2005. Designed by Daniel Libeskind, architect of the distinctive Jewish Museum in Berlin, the plan reconfigures the interior of the 1907 structure, whose brick facade will be maintained; the new design includes a gold-toned, stainless-steel-clad addition in the architect’s signature skewed-geometric style. Some observers wonder if the Libeskind building will actually come to fruition, since the disparate boards can’t seem to agree on the new institution’s mission and identity. The Magnes will maintain a presence in Berkeley to serve research and scholarly purposes.

Also in the planning stages near Yerba Buena is the new Mexican Museum; designed by Mexico City-based Ricardo Legorreta, the project is consistent with other of his colorful, blocky structures. The $28million facility will contain 63,000 square feet, more than six times its old space. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2004. The museum’s collection contains over 12,000 objects ranging from Pre-Columbian to contemporary works. One room will be devoted to the collection of Mexican, Peruvian, Brazilian and Nicaraguan popular art recently acquired from the estate of local graphic artist Rex May, who died of AIDS in 1993.

A recent high-profile institutional casualty was the Ansel Adams Center, operated by Friends of Photography. The center had moved to a newly constructed facility near SFMOMA just a year before its board opted to cease operations in 2001 due to mounting debt. The popular bookstore remains open.

For Love, Not Money: The Nonprofits

There has always existed a strong entrepreneurial spirit in San Francisco–some like to point out that it goes back to the Gold Rush–that feeds a healthy number of nonprofit and artist-run spaces. According to Susan Miller, executive director of New Langton Arts, art is supported in San Francisco largely through philanthropy, rather than the market. Founded in 1974, New Langton, with a secure lease on its SoMa building until 2006, weathered the dot-com boom better than many other nonprofits and is going strong. The center’s programming includes visual-arts exhibitions, Internet-based projects, and live music and theatrical performances. Recent exhibitions have included solo shows by Anna Gaskell, who lives in New York, and L.A.-based video artist Jessica Bronson, as well as group shows in which local artists are always included. Eight years ago, New Langton launched its annual Bay Area Award Show, for which three artists are selected from hundreds of applicants. This year’s winners were Midori Harima, John Slepian and Scott Hewicker, whose garish fantastical landscapes were shown last year at Rare in New York.

Since January 2001, New Langton has shared its facility with SF Camerawork, which was forced from its home near SFMOMA when its rent increased from $30,000 to $198,000 per year. The two nonprofits now alternate exhibitions; New Langton mounts the same number of exhibitions per year but for shorter periods, while Camerawork, which places less emphasis on the Bay Area, organizes three fewer shows per year. A Camerawork show recently on view was “No Exit: Images of Imprisonment,” which included Lucinda Devlin’s clinical studies of death chambers, and images by Celia A. Shapiro of executed prisoners’ last meals presented on colorful school cafeteria-style trays.

Camerawork and New Langton each recently received $100,000 initiative grants from the Warhol Foundation to undertake feasibility studies. Camerawork is searching for a new permanent home, and New Langton, which has been at the same address for almost 20 years, is considering whether to buy its building Or move to another location.

Founded in the Mission in 1974, Southern Exposure is a respected artist-run organization that features works by emerging local talent, and also runs an active community-based education program. It recently featured the drawings and paintings of Shaun O’Dell, who has created a personal visual vocabulary based on American mythology, and hanging sculptures made from car upholstery by the international collaborative KIT.

Among the dear departed nonprofits is Capp Street Project, a popular artist’s residency program and exhibition space founded by philanthropist Ann Hatch in 1983. Originally located at 65 Capp Street in a house renovated by David Ireland, the program was moved to two other locations in the Mission before Hatch decided to end her involvement in 1997. She offered to donate the original Capp St. house–where artists continued to stay during their residencies even after the exhibition space moved–to various schools and institutions in the hope that the program would continue, but the board was unable to obtain enough funding and in 1998 decided to sell the house and merge the residency with the California College of Arts and Crafts (CCAC), which had recently opened a new facility in San Francisco. Though the residency program has found a new home at the CCAC Wattis Institute, it is somewhat subsumed by the academic atmosphere. Artists who completed projects at Capp Street include Ann Hamilton, Glen Seator, Hung Liu, Mel Chin, Huang Yong Ping, Mary Lucier, Bill Viola, Shu Lea Cheang and James Turrell. At CCAC, participants have included Jeremy Deller, Asymptote Architecture, Jim Hodges, Karim Rashid, Kara Walker and L.A.-based artist Shirley Tse, whose work is on view at the Wattis Institute, Nov. 6, 2002-Jan. 10, 2003. Next spring, the Wattis will mount an exhibition commemorating Capp Street’s 20th anniversary, with new projects by Roni Horn, Ann Veronica Janssens, Mike Kelley and Mike Nelson.

Where It All Begins: The Art Schools

Outstanding art programs abound at various schools in the Bay Area, including those at Berkeley, Stanford, Mills College and San Francisco State, but the two heavy-hitters in the area are CCAC and the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI). The activities of these two schools–exhibitions, lectures and residencies–have an unusually strong impact on, and are integral to, the local art scene. They play a vital role in creating artistic energy in San Francisco.

Both schools have deep roots in the community. Founded in 1871, the Art Institute (then named the California School of Fine Arts) earned a reputation for its avant-garde teaching in the 1930s and ’40s, attracting to its faculty such artists as Diego Rivera, Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko and Ad Reinhardt, and for its photography department, established by Ansel Adams with such faculty members as Dorothea Lange, Minor White and Edward Weston. In addition to its regular faculty, which includes Labat, Doug Hall, Paul Kos and John Roloff, the school brings in numerous guest faculty for short-term stints, which have recently included Byron Kim, Tania Bruguera, Elizabeth Murray, Janine Antoni, Dorothy Cross and Jim Hodges. CCAC opened in 1907 as the California Guild of Arts and Crafts, established by German-born cabinetmaker Frederick Meyer. Based in Oakland, CCAC is closely linked to the emergence of the 1960s ceramics movement through its well-known graduates Viola Frey, Robert Arneson and Peter Voulkos. Its faculty currently includes Kim Anno, Jim Goldberg, Todd Hido, Mary Snowden and Larry Sultan. Today, CCAC is considered the more theory-based of the two and is broader in scope, offering such courses as architecture, fashion and graphic design.

The Art Institute has historically been the more high-profile school, with such distinguished alumni as Labat, Kos, Bruce Conner, Joan Brown, Paul McCarthy and more recently McGee, Bollinger, Paul Pfeiffer, Toba Khedoori, Jason Rhoades, Aziz + Cucher, Enrique Chagoya, Sharon Lockhart, Stephen Hendee, Amy Berk and Bruno Fazzolari. The school holds curated exhibitions and shows by resident artists and has an active lecture series organized by poet, writer and A.i.A. corresponding editor Bill Berkson, who also teaches art history and literature. In 1999, Karen Moss, former director of education and community programs at the Walker Art Center, became the Art Institute’s first director of exhibitions and public programs, overseeing the recently established residency program that has been actively bringing in artists from outside the region, including Ghada Amer, Tania Bruguera, Lee Bul, Raul Cordero, Anya Gallacio and the collective Los Carpinteros. Currently on view [to Dec. 14] is “TOUCH: Relational Art from the 1990s to Now,” guest-curated by Nicolas Bourriaud, codirector of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. The show includes works by Rirkrit Tiravanija, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Andrea Zittel, Jorge Pardo and others.

Many of the Art Institute’s recent initiatives, including the residency program and the relocation of graduate studios to spacious new quarters across town, were taken under the leadership of school president Ella King Torrey, who abruptly resigned in April. Torrey is credited with more than tripling the school’s endowment and increasing annual giving by 500 percent. According to sources close to the situation, however, the school’s debt had more than doubled under her tenure–though, they say, she is not solely to blame. Under her leadership, SFAI was the key player in plans for the ambitious development of a major 225,000-square-foot cultural complex on Pier 70, which would have provided homes to many of the nonprofits and other arts groups displaced during the ’90s boom, as well as space for SFAI’s graduate programs. The school’s withdrawal has put the entire project on hold, and, at present, the need for such a complex is much reduced with the city’s economic downturn.

CCAC boosted its status as a serious presence on the city’s contemporary art scene with the opening of a second large facility in San Francisco in 1997. Located in a refurbished Greyhound bus repair depot, the 120,000-square-foot space contains classrooms for architectural studies and design as well as the graduate studios. CCAC’s alumni include Bechtle, Ireland (who also attended the Art Institute), Hido, Richard Diebenkorn, Nathan Oliveira, John McCracken, Dennis Oppenheim, Raymond Saunders; Squeak Carnwath, Lee Mingwei, Laurie Reid and Anthony Discenza.

An area in which CCAC seems to be one-upping its rival is in splashier exhibitions programming. The school established the CCAC Institute in 1998 to mount shows on both the Oakland and San Francisco campuses. Lawrence Rinder, now a curator at the Whitney Museum and organizer of the recent Biennial [see A.i.A., June ’02], was the first director. Recently renamed the CCAC Wattis Institute, the space has been under the direction of Ralph Rugoff since 2000. Rugoff has been receiving accolades for his curatorial efforts, such as “Sudden Glory: Sight Gags and Slapstick in Contemporary Art,” which included Martin Kersels, Jim Lambie, Steve McQueen, Roman Signer and the Austrian collaborative Gelatin; and “Rock My World: Recent Art and. the Memory of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” with works by such artists as Jessica Bronson, Jeremy Deller, Sam Durant, Christian Marclay, Dario Robleto and Martin Creed, whose band played at the show’s well-attended opening.

Rugoff recently hired Matthew Higgs from London’s ICA as curator of art and design. Higgs’s first project was the recent “To Whom It May Concern,” a selection of works of art addressed to a specific person, including examples by Sean Landers, Gillian Wearing, Joseph Grigely and Christian Jankowski. Rugoff and Higgs, in conjunction with curators from three other West Coast museums, are also planning a survey of contemporary West Coast art, tentatively titled “Baja to Vancouver,” scheduled to open at the Seattle Art Museum in October 2003 before traveling to the other venues.

The Galleries: Making It Happen

San Francisco’s commercial gallery scene has grown significantly over the last 10 or so years, though it is still small by New York standards. Some dealers credit the new wealth, while others say their sales were unaffected by the economic boom and bust. With many galleries timing their monthly openings for “First Thursdays,” there is something of a collaborative spirit among them. Every July, members of the San Francisco Art Dealers Association also participate in “Introductions,” in which emerging artists are given their first shows in a major gallery. Many of the galleries are concentrated near Union Square, the city’s upscale shopping district and one of the priciest commercial areas in the country. During the dot-com boom, many dealers were prepared to relocate as their leases expired, but most have since been able to renegotiate reasonable rents.

San Francisco boasts a number of committed galleries with long histories and serious programs, most of which are still going strong. John Berggruen Gallery features noted artists ranging from Matisse to de Kooning and Ellsworth Kelly, along with contemporary international artists. Its roster is also sprinkled with such well-known locals as Oliveira, Diebenkorn and Thiebaud, and younger artists such as Carnwath and Porges. Anthony Meier Fine Arts, which doesn’t show local artists, has only four shows per year; they focus on international postwar, mid-career and emerging artists, including Robert Beck, Wolfgang Laib, Richard Tuttle, Donald Moffett, Zoe Leonard, Glenn Ligon, Tony Feher and Jim Hodges. Meier is often considered the man to go to by serious local collectors looking for top-caliber works on the international market. Fraenkel Gallery is a long-established photography space showing works by top artists like Diane Arbus, Bernd & Hilla Becher, Larry Clark, Sophie Calle, Nan Goldin, Vera Lutter, Robert Mapplethorpe, Garry Winogrand and Berkeley-based Richard Misrach, best known for his images of sweeping desert landscapes [see review on p. 162]. Braunstein/Quay Gallery focuses on Bay Area artists and bills itself as a “crossover” gallery, showing craft and functional objects in a fine-art context. It has played an active role in promoting art by California’s many important ceramic artists. Among the artists or estates it represents are Peter Voulkos, Nell Sinton, John Altoon, Cork Marcheschi, Mary Snowden, Paul DeMarinis and David Ruddell. Hackett-Freedman operates two spaces featuring works by such well-known artists as Hans Hofmann, Frank Lobdell, Paul Resika, Carlo Maria Mariani, Elmer Bischoff and Joan Brown. In late spring, the gallery presented an intriguing show of early Hofmann paintings, including numerous portraits. Though not a commercial gallery in the strict sense of the word, Crown Point Press is a pioneer printing press and exhibition space, founded in 1962, that has consistently attracted major international artists to its facilities. It has recently featured works by Tuttle, Pat Steir, Markus Raetz and Shahzia Sikander.

An increasingly broad spectrum of San Francisco galleries are now presenting numerous younger and emerging artists who lend a refreshing hipness and relevance to the scene. Gallery Paule Anglim represents a number of these relative newcomers, including McGee, Rigo 02, Fecteau, Anne Appleby, Enrique Chagoya and Jon-Paul Villegas. Also showing with Anglim are the well-established Bechtle and Bruce Conner, and such Bay Area conceptualists as Howard Fried, Kos, Marioni and Ireland, who has been a guiding force on the city’s scene for decades.

Another concentration of local talent is Stephen Wirtz Gallery, which shows established and mid-career artists such as Saunders, Sultan, Oropallo and Wagner; the latter two each had solo exhibitions earlier this year at the San Jose Museum of Art. Wirtz also represents a number of younger artists, including abstract painter Kathryn Van Dyke, photographer Todd Hido, whose twilight images of houses were seen in September at Paul Morris Gallery in New York, and Laurie Reid, who paints lyrical abstract watercolors and was included in the 2000 Whitney Biennial. The sculptures of Kathryn Spence–mud-covered animals ranging from tabletop to room-size–and the photographs of Heidi Zumbrun–large-scale, backlit images of stuffed animals ravaged by her pit bull–share an affinity in their besmirching of childhood comforts. Zumbrun made her New York solo debut last spring at Ariel Meyerowitz Gallery.

Among the artists represented by Haines Gallery is widely known San Franciscan Alan Rath, whose robotic sculptures using video are prevalent in Bay Area collections. Last spring the gallery featured mixed-medium works by Stephanie Syjuco. The artist used inexpensive materials such as foam-board, faux wood-grain contact paper and LED lights to fashion sculptures that resemble surveillance cameras and generic consoles, arranged in various quasi-functional configurations. Also in the show were large prints resembling antique botany illustrations that feature electronic gadgets with equally ambiguous purposes.

Other recent shows at Haines include selections from a beautiful series of thousands of small abstract drawings by Brad Brown, combining intentional and incidental marks; the artist continuously reworked them for 14 years. Hung in various groupings, the drawings invoked a sort of meditation on form. New work by Andrew Bennett, a recent Texas transplant, involves a computer-controlled process in which tightly massed flowers absorb dye to re-create familiar paintings. Also of note are video pieces by J.D. Beltran, the subdued, monochromatic paintings of David Simpson, and the more colorful and exuberant canvases by Mike Henderson and Amy Ellingson.

Rena Bransten Gallery shows a number of San Franciscans who have had significant exposure outside the Bay Area. Doug Hall, who shows in New York at Feigen, is well known for his large-scale photos of architectural spaces. John Bankston’s coloring-book-style paintings and drawings were included in last year’s “Freestyle” exhibition and a solo show the year before at the Studio Museum in Harlem, and were on view in September at Jack Shainman in New York. Bollinger makes photographs, drawings and smart DVD projections, often using the Web as a source. Works by Peter Mitchell-Dayton, whose cartoonish pencil drawings portray a sort of hokey Americana, could also be seen earlier this year at Caren Golden Fine Art in New York. Other artists of note are Rachael Neubauer, a sculptor of abstractly biomorphic forms, and Brett Reichman and Amy Wilson, who each make colorful and lively paintings. On view in the spring were large-scale photographs of Las Vegas resort interiors by SFAI instructor Henry Wessel.

Also notable for adventurous programming is Jack Hanley. In 1996, Hanley closed his original space near Union Square with plans to move to New York, but instead reopened in the Mission in 1998. Many artists place him at the top of not-to-be-missed spaces. His gallery used to be one of the few places to see work by cutting-edge, international artists, including Grigely, Jim Lambie, Raymond Pettibon, Jack Pierson, Mathieu Mercier, Jonathan Monk and Erwin Wurm. Among the local artists he represents are Johanson, Rogan and Hewicker.

One of the most talked-about artists from the Bay Area at the moment is Jim Campbell, who simultaneously showed new works at Hosfelt Gallery and the Whitney Biennial. At Hosfelt, Campbell’s signature LED panels–usually red, but a few in black and white–displayed images culled from films and programmed into a computer. Each work is viewed through a piece of fogged glass that thwarts easy reading. Hosfelt also features Bay Area video artists Anthony Discenza and Bob Linder, L.A.-based Russel Crotty, and New York artists Roland Flexner, Jacob El Hanani and Jess von der Ahe.

Robert Koch, a photography dealer, shows works by international artists like Edward Burtynsky, Jock Sturges and Elliott Erwitt, along with other major 20th-century photographers. Recently on view was an excellent show by local artist and filmmaker Jona Frank, who presented her recent series of large-scale iconic photos of awkward high-school students expressing their identities through various codes of fashion and artifice. Lizabeth Oliveria Gallery, newly relocated to San Francisco from a space it had occupied in Oakland since 2000, has recently shown the cartoonish paintings of Stella Lai, fabric sculptures by Marina Vendrell, an interactive robotic installation by Barney Haynes, intricate and whimsical paintings from the ’70s by Franklin Williams, and crisply delineated paintings featuring a marionette figure by Christopher Oliveria, Lizabeth’s husband.

Other notable dealers include Brian Gross, who represents the estate of Robert Arneson, photographer Dale Kistemaker, abstract painters Barbara Vos and Donald Feasel, and Charles Linder, who makes conceptually based works using a variety of found objects like license plates and street signs; Catharine Clark, who specializes in representational work by such artists as Masami Teraoka, Graham Gillmore and Nina Katchadourian; Heather Marx, who opened in late 2001 and shows a number of West Coast artists, including William Swanson, Yek, Gary Szymanski, Paul Paiement and Lisea Lyons; and Marcel Sitcoske, who presents several New York-based artists, including John Kalymnios, James Hyde, Roy Kortick and Stephen Dean; and Patricia Sweetow, who largely specializes in abstract artists including Joseph Marioni and Rachel Lachowicz.

Doing It for Themselves

Last but not least, a surprising number of artist-run spaces, or those that operate in a similar spirit, proliferate in San Francisco, sometimes popping up in the back of bookstores, clothing stores or other hospitable venues. Though many come and go–Four Walls, Refusalon, scen/escena and jennjoy, to name a few–among the survivors is the Luggage Store. An outgrowth of the 509 Cultural Center, a community-based art center, the gallery is located on a seedy strip of Market Street not far from the tonier galleries. It provided an early venue for the “street scene” artists including McGee, Kilgallen and Johanson, and continues to show engaging and challenging work.

The Mission is home to a number of galleries, which sometimes operate as nonprofits. A.O.V. is a small commercial space opened in 1998 by Jonathan Fogel and Julie Casemore (the latter also works at Stephen Wirtz). The pair tend to favor installation-based shows like that of Amy Rathbone, which included such discreet architectural flourishes as smudged fingerprints, wires sticking out of the wall and tiny holes filled with a hairy material that looked like a spreading mold. Rathbone created a similar installation this summer at Braunstein/Quay Gallery as part of the “Introductions” series, where she also showed small, equally subdued, cartoonish drawings. For his show at A.O.V., Tony Tredway interacted with the gallery’s architecture in a different way, running decorative wall moldings across the middle of the ceiling and walls.

Linc, founded by artist Charles Linder, opened in the Mission in 2000 and presents six shows a year by international artists. Over the summer, the gallery relocated to nearby Market Street. Recently on view were new Web-based paintings by ex-Bay Area artist Robert Heckes, better known for his “paintings” composed of hundreds of playing cards. Linder was also the founder of the popular gallery Refusalon, which closed earlier this year, though his involvement ended in 1997 after he turned it over to a partner. Also in the Mission is Pond, which bills itself as a “place for art, activism, and ideas,” very much in the alternative-space spirit. Recent exhibitions have included artists from L.A. and Portugal. Other spaces of note are The Lab, which features solo shows by locals; Gallery 16, a printing press and gallery; and 69A, located in the former premises of Four Walls, a thriving Mission venue in the late ’90s that was run by Julie Deamer, now communications and development coordinator at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions.

Despite the stresses of the dot-corn years and other recent economic upheavals, the Bay Area has maintained a rich cultural life. Though San Francisco will probably always serve as a testing ground and jumping-off point for many artists, its intrinsically nourishing character ensures a support system for those who stay. The dedication and concerted efforts of certain of its collectors, artists and arts professionals have garnered international attention and raised the city’s status as a serious player, making the debate of whether San Francisco will ever “arrive” as a major art center seem rather outdated.

Supporting the Scene

San Francisco has a number of foundations that award grants, directly or indirectly, to local artists, providing not only support but also recognition that can help launch careers.

The Fleishhacker Foundation has provided Eureka Fellowships to individual artists since 1986. Every three years, a panel of three national art professionals selects 12 grantees from a list compiled by local organizations. Winners receive $25,000 and are included in an exhibition at a local institution; the next one will take place at the Berkeley Art Museum in 2005.

The Gerbode Foundation gives annual grants in various arts fields on a rotating basis, supporting local artists by facilitating the purchase of their works by area museums. Its visual arts grants are given to museums in the Bay Area and Hawaii for the purchase of works directly from emerging artists (the artists’ galleries, if they have one, don’t get a cut). In 2001, the Fine Arts Museums, SFMOMA, and the Oakland and Berkeley museums each received $40,000 to acquire works from such artists as Jim Christensen, Elizabeth Demaray, Chris Johanson, Rachael Neubauer, Shaun O’Dell, Will Rogan and Stephanie Syjuco.

Despite its civic-sounding name, ArtCouncil, Inc. is a private organization, founded in 1997 by Chris Vroom, a former research analyst who divides his time between San Francisco and New York. A panel of five arts professionals from the area selects 10 artists to receive grants of $10,000; the winners are then featured in a group show in a local gallery. In 2001, ArtCouncil began awarding grants to Chicago artists, and has plans to expand to Boston, Houston and Miami, and possibly other cities in the future.

The Creative Work Fund, administered by the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, has been awarding grants to artists and organizations for collaborative projects since 1994. This year it expects to allocate $525,000, in amounts from $10,000 to $35,000, in the categories of traditional arts, literary and media arts, and visual and performing arts.

On the civic level, the San Francisco Arts Commission, which also administers the city’s art collection and public-art commissions, doles out over $1.4 million each year to arts organizations and individual artists through the Hotel Tax Fund. Established in 1993, the 2-percent tax has provided ongoing support for many of the city’s arts groups, often representing a sizable chunk of nonprofits’ budgets. The post-Sept. 11 drop in tourism means less money to pass around, leaving many smaller organizations scrounging for the private funding on which their survival may depend. Recent recipients of SFAC grants (ranging from $36,000 to $558,000) include virtually every nonprofit in the city, from major institutions like SFMOMA and established alternative spaces like Southern Exposure and New Langton Arts, to smaller venues like Intersection for the Arts, a performing and visual arts space in the Mission, and Galeria de la Raza, a long-running space for Latino and Chicano art, music and theater.

Across the Bay

Berkeley and Oakland are both integral to the Bay Area art scene. The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, on the campus of UC Berkeley, recently completed a partial retrofit of its building. Damage from the 1989 earthquake gave the severe, brutalist structure, designed by local architect Mario Ciampi, an ominous quality–one couldn’t help imagining its angular, cantilevered, concrete floors and stairways collapsing. Not to be left out of the city’s building boom, the museum has plans for a new facility closer to the BART station, expected to open in seven to ten years. The project is being developed under Kevin Consey, Berkeley’s director since 1999, who, as head of the Chicago MCA in the 1990s, oversaw construction of that museum’s $46-million new home.

Founded in 1970, Berkeley is a major university museum with a quirky collection, boasting works by Rubens and Renoir, as well as numerous 20th-century artists from Clyfford Still to Nayland Blake. It is perhaps best known for its group of 47 Hans Hofmann paintings, given to the university by the artist in 1963, and an impressive collection of Chinese painting, including numerous works from the collection of James Cahill, professor emeritus at the university. The museum recently mounted a traveling Joe Brainard retrospective and a show of photographs taken in Berkeley by Richard Misrach, both organized by Senior curator Constance Lewallen. She is also preparing a touring retrospective of Paul Kos, to open in April 2003.

Berkeley is also known for the long-established Matrix program, which mounts project shows by emerging artists. The prototype for project shows at museums across the country, the program was first established at Hartford’s Wadsworth Atheneum by James Elliot, when he was director there; becoming director at Berkeley in 1976, he brought the influential series there two years later. Michael Auping was the first Matrix curator at Berkeley, followed by Lewallen and then Lawrence Rinder. The series is now curated by Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, former assistant curator of 20th-century art at the Jewish Museum in New York. Among the artists she has featured are Tobias Rehberger, Katy Schimert, Teresita Fernandez, Ernesto Nero, Doug Aitken, Sowon Kwon, Wolfgang Laib, Sanford Biggers, Shirin Neshat and Vincent Fecteau.

The city of Berkeley is home to a handful of reputable galleries. Located in a shopping center away from the university campus, Traywick Gallery has a lively program of emerging local and West Coast artists including Amy Berk, Michael Damm, Stas Orlovski and Charles LaBelle. Nearby is Paulson Press, operated by Pam Paulson and Renee Bott, which has published projects by numerous local and international artists; and Babilonia 1808, which mostly features two-month-long shows by artists in the collection of gallery owner Babilonia Wilner, including Kenji Yanobe, Ray Smith and Manuel Ocampo.

Oakland is to San Francisco what Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is to Manhattan: just across the water, a promised land of lower rents, bigger spaces and an edgier, less moneyed scene. The vibrancy of Oakland is also evident in the number of artist-run galleries cropping up there.

The Oakland Museum of California, devoted not only to art but to the environment and history of the state, just announced plans for a renovation, With its rather uneven collection, it isn’t high on the list of must-see venues for contemporary art, though this may change with the growing influx of artists. Alongside exhibits of fungi and mastodons, visitors can see also see serious exhibitions of work by California artists. Bay Area figurative painters Joan Brown and Elmer Bischoff [see review on p. 165] were the subjects of major retrospectives in 1998 and 2001 (both co-organized with Berkeley). Last spring, the museum mounted a multigenerational show of 45 Oakland artists, including Ann Weber, Jamie Brunson, Maria Porges, Andrea Brewster, Linda Geary, Robert Ortbal, Melissa Pokorny, Dean Smith and Kerry Vander Meer. It revealed the diverse styles and esthetics brewing in the area. David Ireland will be the subject of a retrospective, curated by Karen Tsujimoto, opening in November 2003.

San Francisco’s Surrounds

Across the Golden Gate Bridge to the north is the Headlands Center for the Arts. Housed in former army barracks, the Headlands offers artists’ residencies in an idyllic oceanside landscape of rolling hills. The center was founded in 1982 by a group of local artists, among them David Ireland. Along with a crew of his colleagues, Ireland refinished the foyer and meeting rooms in his signature method of architectural excavation, and also designed furniture for the spaces. The center provides residencies of four weeks to one year to about 30 local artists as well as those from elsewhere in California, plus Ohio, North Carolina, New Jersey and certain foreign countries, depending on funding agreements with their governmental agencies. Many successful Bay Area artists have passed through the Headlands program, and some continue to rent studio space there after their residencies end. The center encourages a communal atmosphere; meals are provided twice daily in its mess hall, which was designed by Ann Hamilton. In 2001, the center launched its Project Space series in which a large studio is given to one or two artists for five weeks. Open to the public on a weekly basis, the space allows visitors to interact with artists at work. Well-attended open studios for the entire center are held three times a year.

A number of art venues exist among the vineyards of Napa. The Hess Collection is both a winery and an art gallery that displays works by Rauschenberg, Stella, Francis Bacon and Morris Louis. It opened in 1989 with 13,000 square feet to house the personal collection of founder Donald Hess. Nearby is the Oxbow School, a one-semeter visual-arts program for high school students from around the country. The permanent faculty is bolstered by local and national artists who are invited for teaching residencies. It was established by Capp Street founder Ann Hatch and Robert and Margrit Biever Mondavi.

By turns admired and disparaged for its quirky holdings, the di Rosa Preserve, which opened in 1997, is the work of collector Rene di Rosa. The preserve is a boldly personal vision with no concern for market trends or art-world status. Some 2,000 works by 750 Bay Area artists are installed on 54 acres and throughout four buildings; tours are available by appointment only. Highlights include a chapel by Paul Kos, a giant file cabinet by Samuel Yates, a Mark di Suvero sculpture, and ceramic works by Voulkos, Arneson and others. In July, the di Rosa Preserve opened a gallery space on Napa’s Main Street called Off the Preserve!, which features works from the permanent collection and offers other works for sale.

Copia: the American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts, the brainchild of Robert Mondavi, opened in downtown Napa in November 2001. Critics like to point out that art comes last in the center’s name. Peggy Loar, founding president and one-time director of the Wolfsonian Museum and Research Center in Miami Beach, is Copia’s executive director. The $55 million, 80,000-square-foot center, designed by Polshek Partnership Architects, boasts large-scale works by Stephen de Staebler, Mario Merz, Dennis Oppenheim and Wayne Thiebaud. Copia’s inaugural show last November, guest curated by Amy Cappellazzo and Margaret Miller, featured works by eight artists, including large caramelized sugar forms balanced on springs by Gay Outlaw, a food prep station by Andrea Zittel, and a permanent tile design for the kitchen by Jorge Pardo. More typical fare includes displays of Julia Child’s copper cookware and shows like “The Artful Teapot” and “Toasters! Pop-Up Art.”

The San Jose Museum of Art, some 50 miles south of San Francisco, has close ties to the Bay Area scene. A number of San Francisco artists have had solo shows there, including Nathan Oliveira, Deborah Oropallo and Catherine Wagner, who was the recipient of the first (and, it appears, only) San Jose Visual Art Fellowship. The $50,000 fellowship, which included a residency and exhibition, was to be given biennially to an artist but, due to financial difficulty, the underwriter pulled out. For her show, Wagner presented 30 large-scale black-and-white images from her “Cross-Sections” series–MRIs and electron scans of organic matter like fruit, vegetables and bones. Also featured was a 40-foot-long curved wall with backlit Duratrans images of pomegranate “slices” taken with an MRI; the result was more celestial than clinical. Currently on view at the museum [through Nov. 3] is the ambitious “Art/Women/California,” surveying the work of 90 female California artists from 1950 to 2000, including, among others, Miriam Shapiro and Kara Walker.

The San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art is a lively venue that often features emerging artists. In its own version of “Introductions,” it mounted a group show that featured such artists as Alicia McCarthy, Marina Vendrell, Jon-Paul Villegas and Christopher Oliveria, who co-curated the show with ICA director Cathy Kimball.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Brant Publications, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group