In November of 2006, not long after reopening in its newly designed building, the de Young Museum organized what it called the first complete retrospective of Ruth Asawa's career. It was a perfect match of equals — a San Francisco institution (the de Young) reborn in a world-class structure, and another San Francisco institution (Asawa) reconsidered in her 80th year. It's easy to take Asawa for granted, but there's still no one quite like her. Her life-size wire sculptures stop you in your tracks. Think of them as abstract mannequins that hang in the air. Some of them incorporate shapes that resemble gourds or bubbles from a lava lamp. Others look like mesh sea urchins. The de Young has more than a dozen of Asawa's most exquisite wire works on display near the east entrance. No ticket is required to be in this area, which is in a space that leads to the tower elevator. This permanent exhibition is priceless for any Asawa fan — or anyone who needs an introduction to her breathtaking work.