preview | Top 5 SF Art Exhibitions & Events – Dec. 2011


Beat by the Bay, San Francisco Visual Artists of the Fifties and Their Galleries, Ever Gold, December 8, 2011 – January 6, 2012

Everybody’s heard of the literary works produced by the great writers of the Beat generation, like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. But that legendary countercultural movement also included visual artists, who without a doubt deserve the same recognition. Recall, for example, the staggering paintings of Jay DeFeo, such as “The Rose” (now in the collection of the Whitney Museum). By organizing “Beat by the Bay” the Ever Gold gallery aims to reconnect the Bay Area with its own cultural heritage. It will show experimental pieces by artists who lived and worked here in the 1950s, as well as tell the stories of the alternative gallery spaces where those artists presented their output.

Jay Defeo, Courtesy Jerry Burchard Estate, c. 1957

Fifty Years of Bay Area Art, The SECA Awards, SFMOMA + 2010 SECA Art Award: Mauricio Ancalmo, Colter Jacobsen, Ruth Laskey, Kamau Amu Patton, SFMOMA, December 9, 2011 – April 3, 2012

These exhibitions provide an opportunity to learn more about the newer art in and around San Francisco. “Fifty Years of Bay Area Art” celebrates the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art (SECA), which has been awarding prizes to local artists since 1967. The show includes works by many former recipients, from the activist artist Bonnie Ora Sherk (who in 1974 founded an eco garden on a derelict piece of land) to the “Mission School” or “neo folk art” luminaries Barry McGee and Chris Johanson. The other exhibit is the regular biennial showing of works by the most recent laureates.

Surrealism: New Worlds, Weinstein Gallery, December 10, 2011 – January 28, 2012

More art history is coming our way. Surrealist art has been an enormous influence over the 20th Century–its ideas are detectable in über-intellectual Conceptual art as well as in “lowbrow” painting. Moreover, Surrealism managed to cast its spell over many other areas, such as film, animation, experimental music, and commercial decorative art (it’s ironic how the painting style that was meant to shock the bourgeoisie in the 1930s came to be embraced by the more bourgeois artists and galleries, to the point where the great artist John Baldessari put “Surrealism” in his painted list of what sells best). Anyway, the Weinstein Gallery show is about the origins of Surrealist painting. Among the artists included (besides the obvious Salvador Dalí) are Leonora Carrington, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Leonor Fini, Joan Miró, Wolfgang Paalen, and Yves Tanguy.

Third Strike, 100 Performances for the Hole, SOMArts, December 1o, 5:58p-midnight

This surely has the potential be one of the most fun art events this season. Not that I think that art events have any obligation to be “fun,” it’s just the organizers posit it as fun and “punk rock,” and I agree with them. The SOMArts venue has a real big hole in the floor, which is used for art performances. “Third Strike” will feature 100 works of this kind, each no longer than two minutes. I attended one of the previous editions of the festival and what I saw was the silkscreening of tortillas, dancing to noise music, dancing in creepy costumes, a very “unorthodox usage of bodily orifices” (that’s how the press release described it), and a crazy noise rock concert.



Ever Gold Gallery



Weinstein Gallery

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