How to Start a Year of Bay Area Art Off Right

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Maria Guzmán Capron, 'Descarada' (detail), 2017. (Courtesy of R/SF projects)

Welcome to the future! Last year I took the liberty of writing us a mutual New Year’s resolution, which I’m sure you completely stuck with. Remember? We vowed to show up more, to support the local art scene by being genuinely interested in it — and not just in a double-tap-that-Instagram-image kind of way?

After weeks of near-hibernation, too much holiday food, hours of travel and an overload of whatever Netflix program you’ve binge-watched to death, I’m psyched to re-up that commitment with you. Without further ado, I present a few events small enough to actually force face-to-face conversations, where you can start a new year of art off right:

Die Tödliche Doris in the form of allegorical characters at the Festival Genialer Dilletanten (sic) Tempodrom, West Berlin, 1981. (Photo: H. Blohm, archive, Die Tödliche Doris)

'Brilliant Dilletantes -- Subculture in Germany in the 1980s'

Jan. 5–27
Pro Arts, Oakland

A traveling exhibition sponsored by the Goethe-Institut San Francisco fills Oakland's Pro Arts with photographs, films, zines and noise from a brief era of renegade gatherings and experimental production in East and West Germany. Highlighting the bands, artists, filmmakers and designers who rejected craftsmanship in favor of genre-crossing, purposely provocative aesthetics, the show includes a screening of Punk Berlin 1982 (a dramatization of one punk’s introduction to the West Berlin scene) and, for some local flavor, performances by Bay Area bands like Moira Scar and Bonus Beast throughout the month. More info.

Blanca Estela Rodriguez, 'Hye Yang,' 2016. Rodriguez is a current studio artist and former Root Division Latinx Teaching Artist Fellow.
Blanca Estela Rodriguez, 'Hye Yang,' 2016. Rodriguez is a current studio artist and former Root Division Latinx Teaching Artist Fellow. (Courtesy of Root Division)

Root Division Turns 15

Jan. 10–Feb. 10; Celebration & exhibition opening Jan. 13, 7–10pm
Root Division, San Francisco

Befitting its hybrid nature as “alternative space, commercial gallery, art center and studio facility,” San Francisco’s Root Division celebrates 15 years of existence this month with an exhibition, publication, performance night (Feb. 10) and a box set of prints. The exhibition features (naturally) 15 artists still deeply involved in Root Division’s programming and community, including personal favorites Dana Hemenway, Cathy Lu, Whitney Lynn and Chris Thorson. Come wish them happy birthday! More info.

Work by Maria Guzmán Capron.
Work by Maria Guzmán Capron. (Courtesy of R/SF)

Maria Guzmán Capron, 'Desdoblé'

Jan. 12–Feb. 4
R/SF projects, San Francisco

The energetic Lower Nob Hill gallery R/SF projects rings in a new year of programming with an exhibition from Berkeley-based Maria Guzmán Capron, a versatile artist seemingly just as skilled in engineering stuffed textiles as she is in creating eerie yet folksy ceramics. In her first solo since her 2015 show She Bop at City Limits, expect a variety of textures and materials (including carpets), rewards for sustained viewing and exploration (desdoblé means "unfold" in Spanish) and surreal, alien-like figures the gallery describes as "hyperbolic." Yes please. More info.

Still from Jeremy Rourke's 'I'll Be Around.'
Still from Jeremy Rourke's 'I'll Be Around.' (Courtesy of ATA)

Jeremy Rourke, 'I’ll Be Around'

Jan. 12, 5–6pm
Untitled Art Fair, Palace of Fine Arts Theater, San Francisco

This year’s Untitled art fair brings more than 50 arts institutions together for the purposes of selling art -- and also hosts a bevy of performances, screenings and conversations well worth your while. Find me at Jeremy Rourke’s expanded cinema, music and performance piece I’ll Be Around, the culmination of his year-long residency-slash-collaboration with Artists’ Television Access. From the clips I’ve seen of this work performed at the end of 2017, we’re in for a treat. More info.

100 percent of the benefit's proceeds go to organizations aiding victims of the North Bay fires.
100 percent of the benefit's proceeds go to organizations aiding victims of the North Bay fires.

Art Gives Back

Jan. 21, 4–8pm
Minnesota Street Project, San Francisco

After last year’s devastating North Bay fires, members of the Bay Area art community began organizing a fundraiser for the region’s most vulnerable victims. The fruit of those labors is Art Gives Back, a one-night event set to include an auction, music, performances, karaoke, food, drinks and the promise of “more,” though what else could be packed into four hours, I’m not sure. All the proceeds from the night will go to UndocuFund and the Latino Community Foundation, organizations providing support to farm workers and immigrant families in Sonoma, Calistoga and Santa Rosa. Tickets to Art Gives Back are just $20, and even though the specifics of whose art, what music and which karaoke songs will be available are still undisclosed, there’s no doubt it will be $20 well spent. More info.