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See these 18 amazing art exhibits before it's too late

By Time Out San Francisco editors

While it's nearly impossible for even the most ardent art lover to see everything the Bay Area art world has to offer, we've curated a collection of must-see exhibits currently gracing the walls of San Francisco's finest art spaces. Plan accordingly. 

"On the road to the Summer of Love" 

The Summer of Love anniversary tour isn't over quite yet. The California Historical Society presents some historical contest to the groovy time period in this intimate retrospective featuring photographs, ephemera and personal mementos from the folks who were really there. 

◊ California Historical Society, 678 Mission St (415-357-1848, Through Sept 10.

"Sweet N Low: An international exhibition of cute"

130 local, national and international artists explore the phenomena of cuteness—from darling to downright creepy—in this juried exhibition of adorability. This show has everything we enjoy in art; kitsch, anime, pop-art and the downright weird.

◊  Bedford Gallery, Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek (925-943-7469, Through Aug 27. 

"Box of Dreams"

"We are all insecure about our bodies," explains local artist Leonel Saravia. "Everyone thinks their body is flawed, even people who are at the gym working out everyday. My photographs enable people to discover that they do have a part of their body that is beautiful." Saravia's rich and exclusively black and work work explores the consistent and unmistakable beauty of the nude human body.

◊ The McLoughlin Gallery, 49 Geary, Suite 200 (415-986-4799, Through Aug 29. 

"Chad Hasegawa: wall colorings"

Street artist (and former advertising exec) Chad Hasegawa blends his gritty past work with the traditions of fine art in this complex show at the Schwartz Gallery. Hasegawa's bold blocks of stern color on large-scale squares and rectangles have a unique intensity and a classically modern vibe.  

◊ Andrea Schwartz Gallery, 545 Fifth Street (415-495-2090, Through Aug 29. 

"Off the Wall"

Own a piece of history by purchasing one of the 4,000 prints created at Mission Grafica printmaking studio that will be for sale through this month. The 40-year-old studio at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts is home to numerous Mission District and San Francisco artists and their rich history of work. This is a great—and rare!—opportunity to purchase iconic and affordable prints from local artists in support of a local grass-roots organization.

◊ Mission Cultural Center, 2868 Mission St. (415-643-2785, Through Sept 2.

Around + About, Mercury 20 Gallery

Artist and Oakland native Kathleen King scoured city streets, dumpsters and building sites around the Bay Area to create "abstract assemblages that respond to her experiences on these streets." The point was to explore how people make their social environment and are also made by it. Check it out at Mercury 20, an artist-run gallery aimed at promoting Oakland and East Bay artists.

◊Mercury 20 Gallery, 472 25th St, Oakland (510-701-4620, Through Sept 2. 

Windy Chien with The Year of Knots
Photograph: Molly DeCoudreaux

"The Year of Knots" 

San Francisco-based artist and designer Windy Chien is showing her acclaimed 2016 project "The Year of Knots"—in which she learned a new knot every day for a year—as well as some new works at the Minnesota Street Project. The show is a joint exhibition with modern ceramist Len Carella—including a few art pieces that the two artists collaborated on. 

◊ Minnesota Street Project, 1275 Minnesota St (415-243-0825, Through Sept 30. 

“Awaking Beauty: The Art of Eyvind Earle”

This magical retrospective showcases the life and work of Earle, the illustrator, artist and printmaker best known as the lead stylist for Sleeping Beauty (1959) and for concept art that shaped other Disney favorites such as Lady and the Tramp (1955) and Peter Pan (1953).

◊ The Walt Disney Family Museum, 104 Montgomery St (415-345-6800, Through Jan 8.


“Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed”

Including landmark compositions about art, love, mortality and the ravages of time, this reappraisal uses Munch’s late paintings as a starting point from which to reevaluate his entire career.

◊ San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third St (415-357-4000, Through Oct 9.


“Liu Jianhua: Collected Letters”

One of China’s foremost installation artists transforms the second floor of the museum with thousands of porcelain letters and fragments of Chinese characters suspended in midair. Each of the installation’s 1,600 pieces was handmade by Liu and a team of ceramic artists over five months; A special steel grid is required to hold them up.

Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St (415-581-3500, Through 2020.


Conservatory of Flowers
Photograph: Courtesy Obscura Digital

Nightly Illumination

Every evening, as part of the city’s Summer of Love 50th anniversary, projections onto the Conservatory of Flowers facade illuminate scenes inspired by the greenhouse’s rare tropical flora as well as by the legacy of the city’s flower children.

◊ Conservatory of Flowers, 100 John F Kennedy Dr (415-831-2090, Through Oct 21.


“Of Dogs and Other People: The Art of Roy De Forest”

De Forest’s first career retrospective is filled with dreamlike colors and quirky characters. Listening stations throughout the exhibit feature an array of voices—from a dog trainer to a sword swallower—to help your imagination wander.

Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St, Oakland (510-318-8400, Through Aug 20.


Precita Eyes Muralists 40th Anniversary Tour

Admire four decades of visual storytelling during this new walking tour of the Mission’s oldest murals, and learn the stories behind the neighborhood street art.

◊ Precita Eyes Art Studio, 348 Precita Ave (415-285-2287, Aug 19, Sept 16.


“Revelations: Art from the African American South”

This major acquisition from Souls Grown Deep Foundation in Atlanta encompasses 62 works by contemporary African-American artists from the southern United States. Included in the exhibit are paintings, sculptures, drawings and quilts by 22 acclaimed artists.

◊ De Young Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr (415-750-3600, Through Apr 1.

Cartoon: Roz Chast, Courtesy CJM

“Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs”

The New Yorker’s beloved cartoonist of quirk and gloom gets her own exhibit, featuring art and archives from her 2014 graphic memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

◊ Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St (415-655-7800, Through Sept 3.



Centered on the role of sound in contemporary art, this large-scale group exhibition from more than 20 artists  spans sculpture, audio and video installation, and performance pieces  to visualize the unique relationship between sound and space.

◊ San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third St (415-357-4000, Through Jan 1.


“Tania Bruguera: Talking to Power / Hablándole al Poder”

Political artist Bruguera works at the intersection of activism and performance art. This survey exhibition presents all of her socially engaged art projects to date. Bruguera also teaches weekly classes on systems of power and creative dissent.

◊ Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St (415-978-2700, Through Oct 29.


“Ugo Rondinone: the world just makes me laugh”

The Swiss-born mixed-media artist’s first solo exhibition in the Bay Area centers on his acclaimed sculpture series, “Vocabulary of Solitude.” The show includes 45 life-size, highly realistic clown sculptures.

◊ Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, 2155 Center St, Berkeley (510-642-0808, Through Aug 27.


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