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The New ICA San Francisco Opens Its Doors With an Artist-Curated Show About Black Women and Freedom


The Bay Area’s newest institution, the ICA San Francisco, celebrated the final phase of its opening last night, unveiling its biggest gallery space with a compelling group show on the importance of celebrating Black beauty, rest, and self expression, curated by California artists Tahirah Rasheed and Autumn Breon.

Titled “Resting Our Eyes,” the exhibition features works from both big names and rising stars, with impressive loans by the likes of Carrie Mae Weems, Derrick Adams, Sadie Barnette, Genevieve Gaignard, and Simone Leigh.

Breon, who lives in Los Angeles, and Rasheed, who is from Oakland, met through the For Freedoms artist collective. (Group cofounder Hank Willis Thomas is among the artists featured in the show, along with his mother, photographer Deborah Willis.)

“So many people within the network just kept on assuming that we knew each other,” Breon told Midnight Publishing Group News at the exhibition’s opening reception. When they were finally introduced, the connection was instant.

Curators Tahirah Rasheed and Autumn Breon at "Resting Our Eyes" at the ICA San Francisco. Photo by  Vikram Valluri for BFA.

Curators Tahirah Rasheed and Autumn Breon at “Resting Our Eyes” at the ICA San Francisco. Photo by Vikram Valluri for BFA.

The two have spent the past year curating “Resting Our Eyes,” which offers a taste of founding ICA director Alison Gass’s socially minded vision for the institution, which looks to focus on under-represented voices in the art world.

The show’s theme was inspired by the Combahee River Collective, a group of Black feminists who began meeting in 1974.

“Basically the idea is that if and when black women are free, everyone else in the world will inevitably be free, because the systems that oppress black women would have to be dismantled and everyone else would benefit from it,” Breon said.

“When T and I started thinking about the mechanisms for freedom, we kept going back to leisure and adornment,” she added. “We were looking for the artwork that tells the story how we adorn ourselves and how we prioritize rest, because we see both of those as really necessary acts.”

See some of the works from the show below.

Adana Tillman, <em>Wild Things</em> (2020). Photo courtesy of the artist.

Adana Tillman, Wild Things (2020). Photo courtesy of the artist.

Gaignard, <em>Look What We've Become</em> (2020). Collection of Bob Rennie, Vancouver. Photo by Jeff Mclane, courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter, Los Angeles.

Gaignard, Look What We’ve Become (2020). Collection of Bob Rennie, Vancouver. Photo by Jeff Mclane, courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter, Los Angeles.

Sadie Barnette, <em>Easy in the Den</em> (2019). Photo courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Sadie Barnette, Easy in the Den (2019).
Photo courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.

Hank Willis Thomas, <em>Kama Mama, Kama Binti (Like Mother, Like Daughter)</em> (1971/2008) from "Unbranded: Reflections in Black by Corporate America." Collection of the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation. Photo by Aaron Wessling Photography.

Hank Willis Thomas, Kama Mama, Kama Binti (Like Mother, Like Daughter) (1971/2008) from “Unbranded: Reflections in Black by
Corporate America.” Collection of the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation. Photo by Aaron Wessling Photography.

Carrie Mae Weems, <em>The Blues</em> (2017). Collection of Jeffrey N. Dauber and Marc A. Levin. Courtesy of the Dauber/Levin Collection.

Carrie Mae Weems, The Blues (2017). Collection of Jeffrey N. Dauber and Marc A. Levin. Courtesy of the Dauber/Levin Collection.

Lauren Halsey, <em>Untitled</em> (2021). Photo by Allen Chen, courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles.

Lauren Halsey, Untitled (2021). Photo by Allen Chen, courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles.

Traci Bartlow, <em>Girl Boss</em> (1996). Photo courtesy of the artist.

Traci Bartlow, Girl Boss (1996). Photo courtesy of the artist.

Helina Metaferia, <em>Headdress 1</em> (2019). Photo courtesy of the artist.

Helina Metaferia, Headdress 1 (2019). Photo courtesy of the artist.

Carrie Mae Weems, <em>The Blues</em> (2017). Collection of Jeffrey N. Dauber and Marc A. Levin. Photo courtesy of the Dauber/Levin Collection.

Carrie Mae Weems, The Blues (2017). Collection of Jeffrey N. Dauber and Marc A. Levin. Photo courtesy of the Dauber/Levin Collection.

Ebony G. Patterson, <em>...they wondered what to do...for those who bear/bare witness</em> (2018). Photo courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago.

Ebony G. Patterson, …they wondered what to do…for those who bear/bare witness
(2018). Photo courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago.

Resting Our Eyes” is on view at the Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco, 901 Minnesota Street, San Francisco, January 21–June 25, 2023. 

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We Tagged Along With Florie Hutchinson, San Francisco Arts Expert, to View FOG and Much More


If you want an expertly guided crash course in the San Francisco art scene, look no further than Florie Hutchinson, a mother of four and arts publicist extraordinaire with her finger firmly on the pulse of Bay Area arts and culture.

A passionate advocate for artists and feminist causes—she conceived of and successfully campaigned for the adoption of an official emoji of a women’s ballet flat—Hutchinson has a keen eye for data and numbers, which she believes makes a strong case for San Francisco as a major art market capital.

”A lot of people don’t realize that San Francisco has under a million people. The population is 815,000. But our GDP—I was looking this up today—is $577 billion,” Hutchinson told Midnight Publishing Group News. “That’s a lot of punching power on a per capita basis. So there’s no question that the disposable income is here, there’s no question that the intellectual capital is here, and where there’s intellectual capital, there’s curiosity, and curiosity and contemporary art are natural bedfellows!”

When I touched down at the San Francisco airport the afternoon of the first day of FOG Design and Art, the city’s pre-eminent art fair, Hutchinson was there to pick me up in her Tesla Model X, with a full day’s itinerary of art activities to squeeze into the few hours before we were due at the opening gala.

Florie Hutchinson and Micki Meng at "Omari Douglin: The People of New York City." Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Florie Hutchinson and Micki Meng at “Omari Douglin: The People of New York City.” Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Hutchinson has lived in Palo Alto down on the San Francisco peninsula since 2014, when her husband, Ben Hutchinson, founded a financial tech startup. At the time, their daughters were two and five months years old. Two more girls have since joined the brood, and the family has purchased and renovated a historic, beautifully appointed Joseph Eichler home that has been featured in the London Times, Elle Decor, and Wallpaper.

Prior to settling on the West Coast, the couple had previously lived in London (he is British), where Hutchinson (Swiss-American) had spent three years running an agency with Carrie Rees (who now runs the London arts communications firm Rees and Co).

But while Hutchinson had a built-in group of close college friends who lived on the peninsula, she had to build out her professional network in her new home from scratch.

Omari Douglin, <em>Birkin Sermon Manifestation</em> (2022). Photo courtesy of Micki Meng Gallery, San Francisco.

Omari Douglin, Birkin Sermon Manifestation (2022). Photo courtesy of Micki Meng Gallery, San Francisco.

Our first stop of the day, coincidentally, was with the first contact she made, curator Micki Meng. They met when Hutchinson went to visit the Wattis Institute at the California College of the Arts in the hopes of buying a limited edition work, and, when she couldn’t find anyone at the front desk, poked her head into the back room.

“I introduced myself to Micki, and that conversation turned into three hours, and immediate friendship!” Hutchinson recalled.

Meng was waiting for us with sandwiches and dill-flavored potato chips in the Bayview location of her gallery, which she opened in Chinatown in 2019. The second space, housed in an old woodworking studio, is currently showing a selection of new diptychs by Los Angeles artist Omari Douglin, inspired by his native city of New York.

Koak with two of her paintings at her solo show at Altman Siegel in San Francisco. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Koak with two of her paintings at her solo show at Altman Siegel in San Francisco. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Then it was off to Altman Siegel, one of 15 galleries at the Minnesota Street Project. (Owner Claudia Altman-Siegel was another early Bay Area connection—the two bonded over both having young children when the dealer spotted some spit-up on Hutchinson’s shoulder at a gallery opening at Jessica Silverman.)

The gallery had just opened a pair of exhibitions, including one of cartoon-like paintings and vaguely Seussian sculptures by local artist Koak. She was there to give us a tour of the show, which she described as being about “stress, anxiety, and human disaster.”

The other show was the gallery’s first time working with the estate of Beth Van Hoesen, who was born in Boise, Idaho, in 1926, but spent much of her life living in a former firehouse in San Francisco’s Castro District.

Beth Van Hoesen, <em>Sister Zsa Zsa Glamour</em> (1997). Photo courtesy of Altman Siegel, San Francisco.

Beth Van Hoesen, Sister Zsa Zsa Glamour (1997). Photo courtesy of Altman Siegel, San Francisco.

The gallery is donating a portion of the sales of her delicate drawings of her friends and neighbors, which form a poignant portrait of the Castor’s queer community in the 1980s, to the Rainbow Honor Walk, a nonprofit that celebrates LGTBQ history with bronze sidewalk plaques throughout the neighborhood.

Next door to Altman-Siegel was the McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, a space dedicated to the private collection of Nion McEvoy and his family.

“He’s a beloved figure in the Bay Area. That generation cares deeply about keeping the arts ecosystem here alive and thriving,” Hutchinson said as we took in the current group show “Color Code.” Curated in celebration of the foundation’s fifth anniversary, it featured new commissions by Bay Area artists Sadie Barnette, Angela Hennessy, Clare Rojas, and Zio Ziegler, as well as other selections from the collection.

Sadie Barnette, <em>Family Tree II</eM> 2022. Photo by Henrik Kam, courtesy of the artist; Jessica Silverman, San Francisco; and McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, San Francisco.

Sadie Barnette, Family Tree II 2022. Photo by Henrik Kam, courtesy of the artist; Jessica Silverman, San Francisco; and McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, San Francisco.

As the day continued, it became clear that Hutchinson is a never-ending fount of knowledge about who’s who in the Bay Area, and what connects them. We didn’t have time to pop in the Minnesota Street Project’s main gallery campus, but as we drove by, I mentioned that I had loved one of the shows I had seen on my last visit to the Bay—Gay Block’s “Rescuers: Portraits of Moral Courage in the Holocaust” at Jack Fischer Gallery.

The show was spearheaded and funded, Hutchinson informed me, by Pamela Hornik, a Palo Alto art collector and arts philanthropist. Hornik had seen some of the photos, taken in the late ’80s, and was captivated by the story they told, of ordinary men and women across Europe who risked everything to hide Jews from the Nazis.

Later at the gala, Hutchinson would introduce me to Hornik, who is such a booster of the local art scene that she literally volunteers to greet visitors at the front desk of the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, where she is a board member.

“It’s my favorite thing to do,” Hornik told me.

Artist Sarah Meyohas was walking by and I enlisted her to join this photo with Florie Hutchinson and Lisa Ellsworth outside "Kija Lucas at the Guardhouse." Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Artist Sarah Meyohas was walking by and I enlisted her to join this photo with Florie Hutchinson and Lisa Ellsworth outside “Kija Lucas at the Guardhouse.” Photo by Sarah Cascone.

But before we got to the fair, we stopped first at the entrance of the venue, the Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture, to check out the Guardhouse. The tiny, 100-square-foot building dates to 1926, not long after the site, now administered by the National Park Service, opened as an army base.

This week marked the opening of the first in a new series of artist takeovers of the diminutive space, responding to the site’s natural and cultural history, organized by the FOR-SITE Foundation, an art nonprofit founded by San Francisco art dealer Cheryl Haines in 2003.

Local artist Kija Lucas had covered the walls with a gorgeous botanical wallpaper featuring plants like fennel and English ivy—familiar to any Bay Area resident, but actually invasive.

“These plants suggest home for a lot of us, but they have complicated histories,” curator Lisa Ellsworth told us during a tour of the show, which can only be seen through the Guardhouse windows.

Installation of "Kija Lucas at the Guardhouse." Photo courtesy of FOR-SITE Foundation, San Francisco.

Installation of “Kija Lucas at the Guardhouse.” Photo courtesy of FOR-SITE Foundation, San Francisco.

It also features Lucas’s framed photos of native species like the endangered Franciscan manzanita, and of the tools used by staff at the Presidio Nursery at Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy to propagate and tend to these indigenous plants.

Reflecting on the whirlwind day, the exhibition almost seems like a metaphor for San Francisco during FOG. By which I mean local artists and art organizations—carefully tended by the area’s dedicated art enthusiasts, such as Hutchinson—still in bloom amid transplants from all over the world.

Omari Douglin: The People of New York City” is on view at Micki Meng, Bayview, 1720 Armstrong Ave #1A, San Francisco, California, December 16, 2022–January 27, 2023.

“Koak: Letter to Myself (when the world is on fire)” and “Beth Van Hoesen: Punks and Sisters” are on view at Altman-Siegel, Minnesota Street Project, 1150 25th Street, San Francisco, California, January 17–February 25, 2023.

“Color Code” is on view at the McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, Minnesota Street Project, 1150 25th Street, Building B, San Francisco.

Kija Lucas at the Guardhouse” is on view at the Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture, Festival Pavilion, 2 Marina Boulevard, January 14–March 12, 2023.

FOG Design and Art is on view at the Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture, Festival Pavilion, 2 Marina Boulevard, Landmark Building C, Suite 260, San Francisco, California, January 18–22, 2023.

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Gagosian Has Closed Its San Francisco Gallery, Once Seen as a Beacon of Promise for Silicon Valley’s Art Market


Back in 2016, the arrival of mega-gallery Gagosian in San Francisco was deemed a sign that Silicon Valley’s art market was heating up. Four years later, however, the gallery has officially closed the space, which was located a stone’s throw from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

“To consolidate and strengthen Gagosian’s presence in California, we are concentrating our efforts based in Los Angeles, for the time being,” a spokesperson told Midnight Publishing Group News.

The confirmation follows a December 31 report in the San Francisco Chronicle that the gallery’s phone had been disconnected, its signage had been removed, and the branch information had been removed from Gagosian’s website.

This is not the first blue-chip gallery to close an outpost during the lockdown era. In October, Marian Goodman announced she would shutter her London space after six years.

Gagosian—the largest art gallery in the world—continues to operate 15 other spaces in New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Rome, Athens, Geneva, and Hong Kong.

At the time of the San Francisco gallery’s launch, SFMOMA had just reopened after a major overhaul, focusing the art world’s attention on the city. “This makes sense with the new museum opening and with the emerging collector base in Silicon Valley,” Larry Gagosian told SF Gate at the time. The inaugural show featured work by Cy Twombly, Richard Serra, Jasper Johns, and Pablo Picasso.

Exterior of the Marciano Art Foundation. Photo by Julian Calero.

Exterior of the Marciano Art Foundation. Photo by Julian Calero.

While Gagosian is now downsizing in San Francisco, it is expanding in Los Angeles. This past summer, the gallery extended his footprint in the city by taking over part of the shuttered Marciano Museum, a 90,000-square foot former masonic temple on Wilshire Boulevard. (The private museum founded by fashion moguls Paul and Maurice Marciano permanently shuttered this past February, shortly after workers there voted to unionize.) Gagosian also operates a gallery in nearby Beverly Hills.

The San Francisco gallery’s final exhibition was a show of work by the late Bay Area artist Jay DeFeo. “We felt a great amount of support from local collectors, institutions, and the public,” the space’s co-director Kelly Huang told Midnight Publishing Group News. By offering programming that might be more typical of New York and Los Angeles, she added, “Gagosian helped expand access to contemporary art in the Bay Area.”

Huang, who worked as an art advisor for roughly a decade before joining the gallery, is now planning to launch her own art advisory firm, KCH Advisory. She remains bullish on the notion that the city is fertile ground for the art market to develop. “There is a growing, active, and engaged client base in San Francisco,” she said, “and it reflects the huge potential for the next generation of collectors here.”

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