It’s “summer” in the Bay Area, whatever that means when you still have to carry a sweater around. Casting about for what to do this season? A few suggestions: try a new ice cream flavor, catch a few A’s games, finally get that grill going for a Memorial Day weekend barbecue.
But definitely definitely don’t forget your New Year’s resolution to see more art in 2018. (The year is almost halfway over!) I’m, like, not trying to stress you out or anything, but get a move on, people. There’s plenty to do and see in the months ahead:
'René Magritte: The Fifth Season'
May 19–October 28, 2018
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
In the mood for artwork that matches the surreal feeling of living under the current administration? May I suggest René Magritte: The Fifth Season. This exhibition contains some fan favorites (see Le fils de l’homme, a.k.a. man in bowler hat with apple over face), but don’t write Magritte off as a pop philosopher making existential artistic statements about pipes. The Fifth Season focuses on the famous Belgian surrealist’s later works, made between the 1940s and 1960s, arguing it was only then, after breaking with the surrealist movement, that he found his true voice. Come for the playful use of scale, cheeky visual puns, and beautifully rendered landscapes, stay for a healthy dose of disorientation.
'Inflatable: Expanding Works of Art'
May 26–Sept. 3, 2018
Exploratorium, San Francisco
Perhaps you’re looking for something a little less cerebral, some art you can actually wrap your arms around? This summer, the Exploratorium’s blowing up. That is, literally filling things with air. Colossal founder Christopher Jobson curates an exhibition of inflatable works, including giant human figures, a monumental bioform, squishy columns of light and an air-filled geodesic dome. Fun by definition, inflatable art expands (pun intended) our expectations for large-scale sculpture beyond rigid structures. Celebrate the fleeting and ephemeral! Squeeze some art!
'Reading Room: The Feminist Art of Self-Help'June 6–June 30, 2018
Root Division, San Francisco
Keywords from this exhibition press release include “current,” “urgent,” “experimental” and “intersectional” and I’m here for all of it. Featuring work by 11 artists and collectives, Reading Room posits self-study as a path from individual art practices towards collective political action. Expect work from local artists like Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo, Rickie Dwyer, Nicki Green and Grace Rosario Perkins to challenge the gender essentialism of feminism and welcome viewers into a space that should both comfort and energize. These days, a necessary combination.
Won Ju Lim, 'California Dreamin’'
June 22–Sept. 30, 2018
San Jose of Museum of Art, San Jose
What do contemporary visual artist Won Ju Lim and '60s folk-rock group The Mamas & the Papas have in common? At various points in time, they had intense longings for Southern California while living in harsher, colder climes, and translated those feelings into artistic forms. Lim’s version of California Dreamin’ is less alto flute solo and more multimedia installation, made out of Plexiglas structures and projected image. Inspired by sci-fi films like Blade Runner and Logan’s Run, and a 16th-century fantasy of California-as-paradise, Lim’s piece imagines, according to the museum, “cinematic cityscapes that unite a ruined past with an idealized future.”
'Be Not Still: Living in Uncertain Times (Part 2)'
June 23–Dec. 31, 2018
di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art, Napa
Napa’s di Rosa continues their year-long exhibition program Be Not Still, inviting three new artists to respond to the issues of today with free reign and large-scale installations. The second trio and their topics of choice is Victor Cartagena (addressing immigration), Ranu Mukherjee (on societal health) and Lava Thomas (on solidarity). In the front gallery, Lexa Walsh curates an exhibition from the di Rosa collection on the topic of assembly. Based on the success of Part I, this set of projects will not disappoint.
Laura Rokas, 'La Course En Tête'
July 14–Aug. 11, 2018
Guerrero Gallery, San Francisco
San Francisco-based artist Laura Rokas uses cycling’s premier race, the Tour de France, as both subject and metaphor for the challenges faced by women in male-dominated fields (like the art world). In weavings and quilts, paintings and sculpture, Rokas combines bright colors and poppy iconography in works that slide between 2D and 3D, creating weird trompe l’oeil thrills throughout. And even if you’re not a cyclist with quads of steel, a never-ending “climb” is something everyone can identify with.
Art Wall: Barbara Stauffacher Solomon
Aug. 15, 2018–March 3, 2019
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley
We are not worthy! In the 1960s, Barbara Stauffacher Solomon, a San Francisco-based artist, landscape architect and graphic designer, brought Swiss Modernism and West Coast cool together in a vivacious style of large-scale design called Supergraphics. If you’ve ever visited Sea Ranch, you know her output well. Big, bold and playful, Stauffacher Solomon's work makes the right angles and hard edges of ordinary structures melt into joyous form and color. BAMPFA’s art wall will boast the 90-year-old’s latest design and I, for one, cannot wait.