Fall Arts 2017: Art

From the LED artist who lit up the Salesforce Tower to the collision of Rodin and Klimt, it's going to be a busy fall.

Jim Campbell: Far Away Up Close
Sept. 7-Oct. 14 at Hosfelt Gallery, hosfeltgallery.com

Of late, San Francisco artist Jim Campbell has received the most attention for a $4 million LED project that will light up the top floors of the new Salesforce building. But Campbell has a long history of dazzling small projects, and “Jim Campbell: Far Away Up Close” at Hosfelt Gallery will let art-goers revel in some of his newest art, which includes LED art and lightbox pieces. Hosfelt has been Campbell’s gallery for many years. It was there, in 2014, that Campbell created an LED work that gave people an abstracted sensation of being surrounded by flying birds. Campbell plays with people’s perceptions. Of the images that will emanate from Salesforce Tower, Campbell has said, “You can’t get close to it. You only see it from far away.” The opposite will probably be true at his new Hosfelt show.

Gordon Parks Untitled, Harlem, New York. (Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation)

Gordon Parks: The Making of an Argument
Sept. 27–Dec. 17 at BAMPFA, bampfa.org

Gordon Parks will always be relevant. The trailblazing photographer and filmmaker first made his name in the 1940s at LIFE, where he published photos on Black America that few other journalists were getting. Parks’ best-known early work profiled a gang leader in Harlem named Red Jackson. In “Gordon Parks: The Making of an Argument,” BAMPFA deconstructs the 1948 photo essay by showcasing the original series — titled, “Red Jackson’s life is one of fear, frustration, and violence” — with scores of images that Parks’ editors chose to ignore. Did the series oversimplify Red Jackson and, by default, Black America? And if so, whose argument won out with the publication of the series?  

Question Bridge: Black Males
Sept. 29 – Feb. 25, 2018, at the Oakland Museum of California, museumca.org

The questions that Black men ask each other in the “Question Bridge: Black Males” multimedia project are designed to provoke and begin dialogues. “Why wouldn’t you be happy with your son being gay?” one asks. “Why are you afraid of being intelligent?” asks another. The answers — like the questions — are smart, funny, angry, and more. The Oakland Museum of California first exhibited “Question Bridge: Black Males” in 2012, and five years later, the project returns as a new acquisition for the museum’s permanent collection — more relevant than ever.

Walker Evans
Sept. 30-Feb. 4, 2018, at SFMOMA, sfmoma.org

When SFMOMA hired Clément Chéroux as Senior Curator of Photography from Musée National d’Art Moderne at the Centre Pompidou in June 2016, he was already researching a major exhibit on photographer Walker Evans. Chéroux’s curated exhibit finished its run at the Pompidou in August, and it now comes to SFMOMA — which is the only U.S. host for the extensive retrospective, consisting of some 300 prints that span the 1920s to the 1970s. “Walker Evans” also showcases Evans’ paintings, scrapbooks, and personal items (like postcards) that inspired his work. We’ll get the full Walker Evans in this eponymous exhibit.

Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire (Courtesy of deyoung.famsf.org)

Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire
Sept. 30-Feb. 11, 2018, at the de Young Museum, deyoung.famsf.org

The millions of people who every year visit Teotihuacan, the ancient city outside of Mexico City, encounter pyramids that are stunningly preserved — along with scores of hawkers who sell replicas of artifacts that symbolize the heights of Teotihuacan civilization. The de Young Museum brings that civilization much more to life with this exhibit, organized in conjunction with Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia. Archeological finds will be displayed that show the depth and beauty of Teotihuacan society.

James Kennedy: thought forms
Oct. 4-28 at Dolby Chadwick Gallery, dolbychadwickgallery.com

Like S. Neil Fujita’s cover for the landmark jazz album Time Out, James Kennedy’s art incorporates semi-abstract forms to express something that’s entirely intangible. Kennedy’s work is less colorful than Fujita’s, but it captures the same impromptu, playful spirit that Fujita’s art (and pianist Dave Brubeck) brought to Time Out. In “James Kennedy: thought forms,” layers of vertical and horizontal planes — almost like architectural circuitry — overlap and cascade across canvasses. The result is a mind walk of artful dimensions.

KLIMT & RODIN: An Artistic Encounter
Oct. 14 – Jan. 28, 2018, at the Legion of Honor, legionofhonor.famsf.org

Hard to believe, but “KLIMT & RODIN” will be the first exhibit on the West Coast to feature an extensive survey of Gustav Klimt’s paintings. That they’re paired with work by Auguste Rodin — and analyzed from artistic and personal standpoints — is almost too good to be true. The Austrian and French figures reputedly met only once, but once was enough to inspire this widely anticipated exhibit.  

Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules
Nov. 18 – March 25, 2018, at SFMOMA, sfmoma.org

SFMOMA already has its share of Robert Rauschenberg works on display, including the 1954-1955 piece called Collection — a 6-by-12-foot canvas of color that’s its own universe of drips, blotches, rectangles, metal, and overlapping (and overlapped) images. Rauschenberg called these mixed-media works “combines,” and SFMOMA will showcase scores of them, many loaned from other museums. “Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules,” which features paintings, sculpture, and prints — and which first toured at the Tate Modern, London and New York’s MOMA — happens almost 10 years after the death of Rauschenberg, one of the most seminal American artists of the past 100 years.

Check out more from our Fall Arts 2017 Guide:

We’re waiting to see what Hillary Clinton reveals in “What Happened,” but Jennifer Egan, Jeffrey Eugenides and Matt Taibbi are high on our list, too.

Trevor Noah is coming to town! And Peaches Christ takes on the 1993 Halloween comedy Hocus Pocus with queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Film and Film Festivals
A Salinger biopic, an adaptation of Stephen King’s creepiest clown, and the return of “Art House Theater Day.” Time to huddle in a darkened cinema!

No Treasure Island Music festival this year, sadly, but there’s a ton of excellent acts swinging through town this fall.

A relative dearth of powerhouse musicals about the Founding Fathers this season means that Bay Area theater has room to breathe again.

24-Decade Party People: Taylor Mac Hit S.F.
Performed in four six-hour segments, Mac’s drag-splosion, A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, will be the defining event of the fall.


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