Explore San Francisco

San Francisco Art Scene: 11 Things to Watch

What's new and exciting in the local art world

San Francisco is an art lover’s paradise. In addition to world-class museums and high-end galleries, the Bay Area is home to hundreds of emerging and experimental artists in individual studios and collective workspaces. Autumn offers myriad openings and events. Here’s your fall arts itinerary.

"Green Street" by Nikki Vismara
"Green Street" (©Nikki Vismara)

Get a (rare) glimpse: Open Studio with the Hunters Point Shipyard Artists

Four times a year, the Hunters Point Shipyard Artists—the nation’s largest collective of working artists with more than 250 in one massive space—opens its studios to the public. Visit the historic port to see an impressive away of work from some 150 metal workers, ceramicists, painters and multimedia artists. October 15-16. 11 am-6 pm. 

Redwood Room
Redwood Room (Courtesy Clift)

Stay in style: Hotel Art

You don’t have to visit a gallery or museum to see great art in San Francisco. Keep your eyes peeled at check in because your hotel might be one of the many with a worthy collection of its own. The grand Palace Hotel downtown houses Maxfield Parrish’s painting “Pied Piper,” and the Clift Hotel's lobby is an attraction in its own right, full of furnishings by Salvador Dalí and Ray and Charles Eames. The Clift’s bar Redwood Room is decorated with frames outlining digital images of Gustav Klimt lithographs that once hung on the walls.  

"Fall" by Jonathan Monk
(Courtesy Jonathan Monk (the artist) and Casey Kaplan, New York)

Be illuminated: Let There Be (More) Light at the Jessica Silverman Gallery

More than 20 artists focused on light and darkness (works include neon signs depicting phrases and more abstract glass and metal sculptures) for this exhibition of emerging and iconic talent, including Keith Sonnier, some of the first artists to use neon and light in sculpture. “Let There Be (More) Light” is on until Nov. 19 at the Tenderloin gallery

Qantas Airways 1986 flight attendant uniform by Yves Saint Laurent
Qantas Airways 1986 flight attendant uniform by Yves Saint Laurent (Courtesy SFO Museum)

Sate your terminal curiosity: SFO Museum showcases Fashion in Flight

The airport isn’t necessarily an art destination—unless you’re in San Francisco. The SFO Museum was the first airport-based museum to be accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, and thanks to a staff of several dozen curators and designers, showcases more than 40 exhibitions a year. (That’s more than many traditional art museums.) One current exhibition, “Fashion in Flight,” offers a retrospective of nearly 85 years of flight attendant attire. Depending on your departure gate, you might also be treated to exhibits about mid-century modern design; art and disability and Bauhaus potter Marguerite Wildenhain.

Recchiuti Chocolates
(Courtesy Recchiuti Chocolates)

Eat up: Recchuiti and Creativity Explored chocolates

For the past 11 years, San Francisco chocolatier Recchuiti has teamed up with local arts nonprofit Creativity Explored to feature one artist’s work on its delicate, delectable truffles. This year’s special edition box of nine burnt caramel truffles showcase Laron Bickerstaff’s depictions of the words “fun,” “art” and “yum” spelled out in American Sign Language. Limited edition boxes are available at Recchiuti Confections in the Ferry Building and Dogpatch retail store. 

One of the "Home Land Security" exhibition sites overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge, The Presido, San Francisco.
One of the "Home Land Security" exhibition sites overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge. (©Nina Dietzel)

Bunker down: "Home Land Security" in the Presidio

Vacant gun batteries are an apt home for “Home Land Security,” an exhibition of work on themes and topics related to defense, safety and the physical and psychological borders individuals and entire nations construct. Celebrated curator Cheryl Haines invited 18 international artists to create site-specific installations, including video artist Bill Viola and Trevor Paglen, whose work focuses on surveillance. On view Wednesday-Sunday, 10 am-6 pm.,  Fort Winfield Scott in the Presidio

Meyerovich Gallery
(Courtesy Meyerovich Gallery)

Find your modern muse: New work at the Meyerovich Gallery

For more than two decades, the Meyerovich Gallery has specialized in modern and contemporary work from names you know: Henri Matisse, Frank Stella, Ed Ruscha, and Deborah Kass. New for fall are sculptures from Donald Sultan and Guy Dill, as well as paintings from Shirley Sweeney and Alex Katz. Stop in during regular hours or make it a must-see during your First Thursday stroll.

"Patriot" by Juan Escauriaza
"Patriot" by Juan Escauriaza (CK Contemporary)

See another side of SF: CK Contemporary

The Union Square favorite opens a new show this month from Spain-born, geological sciences Ph.D.-wielding painter Juan Escauriaza, whose acrylic on linen depicts landscapes both bold and subtle. While the paintings may look like portraits, there’s no mistaking the iconic San Francisco signs Escauriaza paints—and no mistaking the talent it takes to bring out the glossy sheen in everyday subjects like fire hydrants, utility poles and the occasional palm tree.

San Francisco Open Studios
San Francisco Open Studios (Courtesy Tania Houtzager)

Open your mind: Open Studios 

The oldest and largest open studios project in the nation, San Francisco Open Studios celebrates its 41st year of helping the public discover some 800 emerging and established artists in their Bay Area studios. Events throughout the month and all over the city; consult the calendar to discover openings in your area. 

Minnesota Street Project, San Francisco
(Courtesy Minnesota Street Project)

Explore cutting-edge art: Minnesota Street Project

The three warehouse gallery spaces that comprise the Minnesota Street Project’s Dogpatch studios and workspace are open to collectors and the curious public alike. On view this season is a joint photography exhibition of work by Leah Beeferman and Kristine Eudey and new work from Sidney Russell, in which she painstakingly replicates used clothing at a humorously outsized scale. Check specific galleries for hours, as each maintains its own. 

First Thursday Art Walk
First Thursday Art Walk (Courtesy Bash Contemporary)

Take a stroll: First Thursday Art Walk

A monthly tradition since 1993, the San Francisco Art Dealers Association organizes this popular Thursday evening art walk among many Union Square galleries, as well as a few in the Dogpatch and North Beach neighborhoods. Popular participating galleries include Caldwell SnyderMark Wolfe Contemporary Art and Hashimoto Contemporary.