Since the start of the pandemic, brilliant murals on boarded-up storefronts across San Francisco have served as both stark reminders of the pandemic’s economic toll on local businesses and colorful signs of hope.
Now 49 of those murals—many commissioned by the visual arts nonprofit Paint the Void and painted by local artists to beautify largely shuttered commercial corridors during the pandemic—will be on display as part of a retrospective by the organization, called “The City Canvas,” opening this weekend.
Billed as the “nation’s largest exhibit of pandemic mural art,” the exhibit at Pier 70’s Building 12 looks back on this array of public art created between San Francisco’s initial lockdown in March 2020 and the subsequent ebbs and flows of the Covid-19 pandemic over the last two years.
The exhibition features massive artworks ranging in size from four to 43 feet long and towering as tall as 11.5 feet. Pier 70’s football field-size Building 12, which once served as a World War II ship-building site, provides an expansive and industrial-scale backdrop for the works, which lean and hang upon the building’s gray columns like paintings in a giant’s warehouse-style live/work loft.
“I really hope that this exhibition provides people both an opportunity to celebrate sort of where we are,” says exhibit curator Heather Whitmore Jain. “And then I also really want this to be an opportunity for people to come and reflect and remember.” (CC)
Pier 70, 588 22nd St.
Saturday-Sunday, Jan. 22-23
Fort Mason, 2 Marina Blvd.
Thursday-Sunday, Jan. 20-23
Returning to the Fort Mason Festival Pavilion for its eighth iteration (and first since taking 2021 off), FOG Fair boasts a slate of 45 fine art and design galleries from around the world, many local to the Bay Area. The fair also hosts a broad lineup of events, including a performance by photographer Martine Gutierrez, a panel discussion examining the influence of NFTs on visual art, and a screening of the documentary “Welcome to the Neighborhood,” about the effects of gentrification in Berkeley through the story of artist and activist Mildred Howard. (MB)
Madrone Art Bar, 500 Divisadero Blvd.
Thursday, Jan. 20 Opening Night
This Thursday, San Francisco visual artist Duser is bringing his latest series of psychedelic paintings to this NoPa watering hole. The series is entitled “Movements” and finds Duser departing from depictions of human and animal figures—opting instead for abstract forms that recall the works of Sadamitsu “S. Neil” Fujita, who many will recognize by the cover art of Dave Brubeck’s cool jazz masterpiece, Time Out. (HL)
Green Apple Books, 1231 9th Ave.
Friday, Jan. 21
From the 1920s through the 1990s, around half a million imprisoned Americans underwent taxpayer-funded cosmetic surgeries. One of the key drivers behind this controversial program was the idea that “fixing” someone’s looks would help them reintegrate into society. San Francisco author Zara Stone explores the practice—and what it reveals about standards of beauty and the prison-industrial complex—in her book, Killer Looks. Ariel Henley’s book, A Face for Picasso, details her experience growing up with a rare physical condition that caused her and her twin sister to develop physical deformities in their faces. Green Apple Books hosts both authors for a discussion. (PB)
Romer Young Gallery, 1240 22nd St.
Saturday, Jan. 22 Opening Night
“Sequence,” Elise Ferguson’s latest solo show at Romer Young (her fifth with the San Francisco gallery), doesn’t aim to reinvent the artist’s wheel but further perfect on her unique craft. The New York-based artist employs painting, sculpture, and printmaking techniques in the production of her wall-hanging, geometric abstractions, which are often mathematically inspired. Looking at them, one can imagine impossible road maps and enlarged sine waves or, more obviously, the raked patterns in a Zen garden. Ferguson’s choices of color and form are intriguing and delightful; once you engage them, it’s easy to get lost in the maze-like designs. (MB)
Golden Gate Park, 1232 John F. Kennedy Drive
Saturday, Jan. 22
Nervous about the latest surge, but not willing to give up on your social life? The organizers of the Blankets & Wine comedy show know the feeling. Join local standup comics Jide Chala and Chloe Matones—hosts of the Jide and Chloe Comedy Shows, as they bring the yuks to the bleachers of the Golden Gate Park polo field. The show starts at 3 p.m. and attendees are encouraged to bring their own bevvies. (PB)
Oasis, 298 11th Street
Saturday, Jan. 22
San Francisco’s drag scene was abuzz last month after word got out that Lady Camden had nabbed a spot on the latest season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. But for the organizers of “The High Princx Pageant” the question of who will win the 14th season of America’s favorite gender-bending reality TV show is secondary. Of primary concern is which San Francisco queen will take the top spot—and the $2,022 cash prize—at this locals-only competition. The contest kicks off this Saturday and concludes next Saturday, Jan. 29. Guest judges, including Honey Mahogany, Nikki Jizz and Peaches Christ, will decide the fate of the nine contenders. (PB)
Salesforce Park, 425 Mission St.
Saturday, Jan. 22
Say what you will about the Salesforce Tower, the skyscraper’s lower-slung cousin, Salesforc Park, is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon—especially when a talented live band is giving a free concert. The year’s slate of shows just kicked off on Jan. 8 with Jody and the Roadies, and Jubilee played last week. It’s hard to know which local artists will pop up on any given Saturday, as the series, but the all-ages environment and open air makes this event a safe bet for a safe family excursion. (PB)
ICA SF, 315 Fair Oaks St.
Saturday-Sunday, Jan. 22-23
Between now and its official launch in September, the Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco will host a program titled “Meantime,” a series of popup exhibitions and performances in the front half of the Institute’s 901 Minnesota Street location. Oakland-based tattoo and textile artist Chris Martin kicks off the calendar with “Ancient as Time,” a show of fabric sculptures incorporating elements of word art and traditional tattoo flash. “P.S. DON’T LOOK BACK,” 2021, is a massive cloth and aluminum structure, printed with the eponymous phrase, encapsulating the significance of the ICA’s opening and offering visitors an enigmatic proverb. (MB)
Christina Campodonico, Paolo Bicchieri, Max Blue and Harry Levin contributed additional reporting for this story.
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