It’s September, the month some might argue is the most important slot in the art world's calendar. Supposedly the art viewing public is well-rested, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after luxurious Hamptons/Tahoe/Martha’s Vineyard/French Riviera vacations (or not).
And even if you spent the "summer" working just as hard as you do every other month of the gosh darn year, September is still a special time. So shed that sluggish summer slump and embrace a brand new season, with some guidance from yours truly:
Sept. 2 - Oct. 15
Johansson Projects, Oakland
Kick off the Labor Day weekend with Micah Wood’s first solo exhibition at Johansson Projects. Remember his paintings and steel cut-outs from the 2015 California College of the Arts MFA show? Wood spent the past year painting in Paris, and the “fruits” of those labors (truly, this work is about food) are now on view. Part critique of the idealized California lifestyle, part analysis of food as analogies for human body parts, and 100 percent filled with great artwork titles, you may never look at a cucumber the same way again.
Sept. 10 - Oct. 29, 2016
Eleanor Harwood Gallery, San Francisco
Another solo show takes us back across the Bay to Eleanor Harwood Gallery’s new home inside 1275 Minnesota Street. Using materials both utilitarian and exquisite, Dana Hemenway’s sculptures oscillate between art objects and functional home decorating items. Playing with design sensibilities and questions of value, Hemenway’s work challenges viewers to examine the boundaries between art and functional object, all while identifying lamps (or light bulbs) as the eyes of a home, ever watchful of a home’s inhabitants.
Sept. 14 - Oct. 21
Slide Space 123, Mills College Aaron Art Center, Oakland
As if the Mills College Art Museum wasn’t bringing us enough great shows, the campus recently announced the opening of a new exhibition space that “aims to provide a space to pose new problems, working with and against the grain of the exhibition format.” The inaugural exhibition, curated by Jackie Im (of Et al.) brings together artists who address identity (and perceived identity) in their work. How do descriptors limit or obscure one’s self-determination? The impressive line-up includes Laylah Ali, Sofía Córdova, Nicki Green, Lauren Halsey, Masami Kubo, and Zanele Muholi.
Sept. 16, 2016 - Jan. 15, 2017
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco
Continuing his charming brand of ragtag galactic exploration, New York-based artist Tom Sachs and his studio take over the entire downstairs of YBCA with a mission to explore Jupiter’s moon, Europa. Two live demonstrations (Sept. 17 and the exhibition’s closing weekend, date TBA) allow visitors to watch a five-hour enactment of space travel, moon landing, scientific testing, Japanese tea ceremony and subsequent return to Earth. The project includes more moving parts than I possibly contain in this blurb, but suffice to say: this wildly ambitious project will likely be one this city talks about for years to come, so don’t miss it.
Sept. 24, 2016 – Jan. 1, 2017
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco
Los Angeles-based photographer Anthony Hernandez gets his first retrospective in the reopened SFMOMA’s beautiful Pritzker Center for Photography. From black-and-white street photography to lush, colorful abstracted images, Hernandez’s 45-years-plus career documents, for the most part, his home town and the space occupied by working class, homeless and underrepresented people.
Friday, Sept. 30, 7-10pm
The Alhambra Theatre/Crunch Gym, San Francisco
Artists Lynn Marie Kirby and Christoph Steger present a night of video, film and performance at the former Alhambra Theatre (now a Crunch Gym) in San Francisco’s Russian Hill neighborhood. The project, two years in the making, takes over the gym’s video monitors with a cycle of six video works from artists around the world, including “collected footage of local pets.” On the gym’s floor, the public is invited to join in exercises based on movements from films once screened in the Alhambra Theatre. And to top it all off, a mobile web app provides additional information, sound and animation at 17 stops around the neighborhood, one of which is Swensen’s. Get this: they’re providing free ice cream in conjunction with The Alhambra Project. Local pets? Ice cream? Film-inspired workouts? See you there.