Rumors About Demise of the Bay Space Artwork Scene Are Tremendously Exaggerated


The New York Instances lately declared the San Francisco artwork scene lifeless, principally, it appears, as a result of two blue-chip galleries (considered one of which is in Palo Alto, not San Francisco)  — Tempo and Gagosian galleries — are leaving for Los Angeles.  

Among the response has been annoyance from artists who didn’t know they expired and take into account this a bogus development piece. Carolina Miranda, an artwork critic for the Los Angeles Instances, tweeted a gif of a person sobbing within the bathe with a caption that reads, “However can California survive Gagosian leaving SF?” Artwork historian Tyler Inexperienced appeared extra outraged than irritated, calling this one of many “dumbest stories the NYT art section has ever published.” Artist and humanities author Sarah Hotchkiss clapped again with a chunk on the myriad Bay Space fall artwork reveals titled, “Experiences of Our Visible Artwork Scene’s Demise Have Been Tremendously Exaggerated.” I spoke with a number of Bay Space artists and curators who took challenge with the article, penned by Adam Nagourney and Robin Pogrebin, which represents the publication’s market-focused method to artwork.

Trisha Lagaso Goldberg, who co-curated the present Carlos Villa present Worlds in Collision on the Asian Artwork Museum, describes the article, as a “nothingburger.”

“I used to be like, ‘Are you critical? You’re trolling us once more with the entire LA lengthy shadow?’” mentioned Lagaso Goldberg, who identified that each writers are White and neither lives within the Bay Space. “The article shouts out [Diego] Rivera and [Kehinde] Wiley and [Ansel] Adams, however there’s additionally Manuel Neri and Kathy Acker and Dewey Crumpler and Bernice Bing, and Carlos Villa in fact — these histories energy this place. We’ve got a legacy of activism and group right here.”

Lagaso Goldberg added that Bay Space curators making an attempt to acknowledge that legacy, mentioning Lauren Schell Dickens on the San Jose Museum of Artwork, Abby Chen on the Asian Artwork Museum, Aleesa Alexander, and Marci Kwon, who began the Asian American Artwork Initiative on the Cantor Museum, and Eungie Joo and Jovanna Venegas on the San Francisco Museum of Trendy Artwork.

Julie Rodrigues Widholm, the director of the Berkeley Artwork Museum and Pacific Movie Archive (BAMPFA) posted a photograph of herself together with her colleagues in an Instagram response, writing, “Many people work in opposition to white patriarchal capitalism as THE measure of all issues essential, good, and precious within the artwork world so we all know that the presence or absence of Gagosian or Tempo doesn’t make or break a neighborhood that has been doing essential work for many years.”

BAMPFA desires to serve all the neighborhood, Widholm says, and she or he cited the present exhibition, Undoing Time: Artwork and Histories of Incarceration, for example. 

“[The exhibition] addresses urgent social points and it’s according to Berkeley’s historical past of social justice. Many of the artists are artists of shade,” she mentioned. “We’re altering our programming so we’re feeling and looking and behaving just like the East Bay.”

Catherine Clark, proprietor of her eponymous gallery, known as the NYT piece “irresponsible,” “underresearched,” and “drained.”

Catherine Clark Gallery’s solo presentation of Ana Teresa Fernández’s work on the 2022 Armory Present in New York (courtesy Mikhail Mishin)

“I’ve been [living] right here virtually 32 years,” she mentioned. “Actually, the story by no means modifications. We’ve got an extremely wealthy and vibrant arts scene right here, and I resent being instructed we’re dying.”

Clark says she sees examples of this vibrancy on daily basis, with robust help for ladies artists and artist residencies, akin to a brand new one on the Headlands Middle that was lately granted to artist Arleene Correa Valencia, a Deferred Motion Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient. 

Two artists Clark represents, Stephanie Syjuco and Ana Teresa Fernández, have been among the many 30 who had their work acquired by the San Francisco Effective Arts Museums with a $1 million grant from the Svane Household Basis. This was a optimistic factor the NYT article talked about, together with the opening of the Institute of Modern Artwork San Francisco (ICA SF) subsequent month.  

Alison Gass, the director of ICA SF, credit the supportive arts neighborhood, (which she describes as a “wealthy ecosystem”) for getting ready the institute to open in only one 12 months. Its inaugural exhibition in October might be an exhibition by Jeffrey Gibson titled This Burning World.

Griff Williams, an artist and the director of Gallery 16, which opened in 1993, says he has learn some model of the NYT piece each couple of years. For him, it underscores the disconnect between the artwork market and the humanities neighborhood. 

“The Gagosians of the world don’t signify the artwork world any greater than Merrill Lynch represents Important Avenue,” he mentioned. “The concept San Francisco is struggling as a result of two mega sellers left and one wasn’t even in San Francisco, is foolish.”

Williams co-directed the documentary Inform Them We Have been Right here with Keelan Williams about Bay Space artists together with Sadie Barnette, Alicia McCarthy, Amy Franceschini, and others. Griff Williams, who adopted a much less industrial path, thinks the Bay Space neighborhood is tight-knit, however there’s little question artists are beneath all types of stresses, partly because of excessive rents. 

Ron Saunders, an artist who co-founded the three.9 Artwork Collective for Black artists in San Francisco, understands that generally folks want to depart the Bay Space, like a few his buddies, together with Sam Vernon, who went to show at Bard School, and Rodney Ewing, who’s now represented by a New York gallery. 

The price of dwelling in San Francisco makes it tough for artists to make work, agrees Cristo Oropeza, an artist, gallery proprietor, and senior program affiliate on the San Francisco Museum of Trendy Artwork (SFMOMA).  

“The difficulty is having no bodily area to permit for creativity,” he mentioned. “That’s a tough reality I’m seeing.” He shares Williams’ opinion on the article: “Regardless of the Gagosian shifting on, we don’t unbecome ourselves as a neighborhood. We present up for one another.”

For instance of artists doing that, Oropeza talks about SFMOMA’s newest Cleaning soap Field Derby in April. Artists have been collaborating within the occasion because the mid-Nineteen Seventies. They make their very own distinctive automobiles — previous examples embody a swan, banana, and a sea creature — and race downhill. 

“The voice of the artists that day was a lioness’ roar,” he mentioned. “It was loud and it was profound and the message was ‘We’re nonetheless right here for you.’” 

Lagaso Goldberg says persons are coming to San Francisco to see artwork, like Villa’s exhibition, the primary by a Filipino American at a serious museum. As a juror for the Murphy and Cadogan Modern Artwork Awards, she provides she sees excessive caliber and rigorous work. 

I’m not quivering in my boots like there’s no good artwork being made in San Francisco,” she mentioned. “Don’t discuss to me concerning the arts neighborhood right here struggling — that’s simply not true.”

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