Google Pier 24. For the biggest contemporary photography space in the country, you will find it to have a very modest virtual presence, flying low under the radar. Even its name -- the space is located on the renovated pier 24 along the Embarcadero -- suggests a decisive non-flashiness. Indeed, Pier 24, which houses the world-caliber photography collection of San Francisco local investor and art patron Andy Pilara, continually escapes classification. It is not a museum (no explanatory wall text, free admission with an appointment), or a gallery (nothing's for sale), or even quite an institution (though educational programming is forthcoming), but a place attempting to carve out a new model for displaying and viewing photographs.
This month, Pier 24 mounts their third show since opening their doors to the public over a year ago. In keeping with their non-flowery-meets-open-ended philosophy, it is titled simply, Here. As you may have deduced, the sole criterion of the exhibition is the Bay Area. Like the space that houses it, the show is huge, showcasing work made by thirty-four photographers. The theme of locality is porous enough to include images made by photographers who live and work here as well as those just passing through. Ultimately, it adds up to a vast portrait of the Bay Area's unique cultural and natural landscape.
Castro Theatre -- Hiroshi Sugimoto
There are many different Bay Areas represented in Here. Jim Goldberg's manic world of impoverished street kids from his 1985 Raised by Wolves project, Eadweard Muybrdge's 360 Panorama from Telegraph Hill taken right before the 1906 earthquake, Hiroshi Sugimoto's glowing Castro Theater, and Richard Misrach's eight-by-ten foot photographs of Oakland after the devastation of the 1991 fire, to name a few of the over seven hundred photographs on view.
Oakland Hills after the 1991 fire -- Richard Misrach