Summer isn’t just for blockbusters. Sometimes all the sun and free time and lemonade and backyard barbecuing and hanging with friends and/or family can make you yearn for a more isolated, intimate experience.
Want to get rid of all the distractions and really spend some time with art, instead of shuffling with the mega-museum crowd from one wall label to the next? Here are six must-see smaller-scale shows, events and happenings worth your while this summer.
On view through July 16
Minnesota Street Project, San Francisco
Since May 21, the Minnesota Street Project has been hosting Berlin-based artist Hito Steyerl’s installation How Not to be Seen: A F**king Didactic Educational .MOV File in the building’s atrium. Ostensibly an instructional on how to avoid identification by digital surveillance, Steyerl’s suggestions are both dead serious and, at times, physically impossible. Asking the question, “How to people disappear in an age of total over-visibility?” this piece, and much of Steyerl’s work address, the proliferation of images, the “unknown knowns” (the things, deep down, we know and yet refuse to accept) and our agency — or lack thereof — in “our thoroughly globalized, digitized condition.”
BONUS! While there, stop by Anglim Gilbert Gallery’s space in the same building for Joan Brown: Presence Known (on view through July 2). Bask in Brown’s paintings from the mid to late ’70s, large-scale portraits of women winning swimming trophies, lounging in arm chairs and greeting stags.
June 2, 6-9pm
Asian Art Museum, San Francisco
If you visited the second floor galleries of the Asian Art Museum in the months since last November, you may have noticed an interruption in the collection. In a corner gallery usually occupied by Chinese paintings, San Francisco artist Ranu Mukherjee’s video and installation project Extracted has taken shape, gradually accumulating more objects from the Asian Art Museum’s collection, more works on paper, and more minutes in its looping video projection. On June 2, the project culminates with a panel discussion and screening of all three films, with a special live soundtrack performed by the Del Sol String Quartet. Look forward to thoughtful considerations of the California Gold Rush, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, Daoist mythology and Mukherjee’s own impressive research-based practice.
June 3 – July 16
FraenkelLAB, San Francisco
No artist captures the melancholy yet sublime experience of an individual within the natural landscape quite like Richard T. Walker (well, except for Caspar David Friedrich). If summertime crowds are getting you down, Fraenkel Gallery’s cozy satellite space is a perfect hideout from the bustle of Market Street. Expect an expansion on Walker’s work in last year’s two-person show with Letha Wilson at Chinatown’s coziest gallery, CAPITAL. Walker incorporates both natural and human-made elements in his sculptures — wrapping rocks with tubes of neon, positioning himself within the pristine beauty of the New Mexico desert — all of which are viewed to a soundtrack of hums and drones, lulling viewers into a meditative and introspective state.
June 5 – September 18, 2016
San Jose Institute for Contemporary Art, San Jose
What’s more introverted than the wholly internal experience of reading a good book? Three simultaneous shows at San Jose’s ICA showcase bookish objects: works made with paper, books deconstructed into wildly creative sculptures and photographs of books. With artists like Weston Teruya, Annie Vought, Imin Yeh in NextNewPaper, the group show promises to push the very limits of what we think is possible to achieve with simple cuts, folds and twists of paper. This is Not a Book: Chapter 2 is organized in tandem with Mill Valley’s Seager Gray Gallery, specialists in “book-related arts.” And Mary Ellen Bartley’s photographic series, inspired by Giorgio Morandi still lifes, capture the subtle variations “between the covers” of books.
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Aug. 19 – Oct. 1
City Limits, Oakland
Los Angeles-based artist Lindsay Preston Zappas brings drawings, sculpture and photography to Jack London Square’s City Limits for an installation centered around repeating patterns, frames and layers. In a recent show at VACANCY (an artist-run gallery in LA with a guest curatorial stint at City Limits in late July), Zappas exhibited fabric “posters” of colorful collaged images covered in dark swirls. The effect was one part scratch art board, one part nudie magazine. At City Limits, expect structures that are “part easel, part wall construction, part constructivist sculpture.” If you can’t quite wrap your head around what that could possibly look like, all the more reason to go visit the show in person.