Taro Hattori, Obscenity, 2010; NC Music Factory, organized by Dugg Dugg, Charlotte, NC
Contemporary art in the San Francisco Bay Area is a bit of a well-kept secret, even to locals. Historically, artists have come here seeking a space of quiet, away from the pressures of art world centers. Collectors seeking status objects vetted by the mainstream art world have tended to invest in New York before looking to San Francisco. These factors have combined to brand the Bay Area as idiosyncratic, provincial and outside the contemporary art market. Based on the current work being made here by contemporary artists working in all media — from painting to ceramics to conceptual and media art — such a narrow view of Bay Area art is both outdated and just plain wrong. Galleries such as Catharine Clark, Marx & Zavattero, Patricia Sweetow, Steven Wolf, Gregory Lind, Michael Rosenthal, Triple Base and Ratio3 in San Francisco, and Johansson Projects, Swarm, Hatch, Chandra Cerrito, Krowswork, Alphonse Berber and Branch in Oakland/Berkeley are gaining increasing momentum, fueled by a new generation of internationally focused Bay Area artists whose practices go beyond the faux-naive Mission School ethos that has long dominated the San Francisco scene. Though their backgrounds, approaches and media are diverse, what these artists have in common is commitment, intellectual rigor, and a desire to build their reputations nationally without abandoning the supportive and collaborative community that the Bay Area offers.
Here are profiles of just a few artists whose range of practices reflects the incredible talent and diversity of the San Francisco region.
DEREK WEISBERG invests each of his haunting works in clay with a bit of himself. Weisberg's installations combine ceramic sculpture with found wood forms that respond to the architectures of the gallery and of the street.
TARO HATTORI considers militarism, violence, consumerism, greed and cultural amnesia in large-scale sculptural works and more intimate digital photomontages.
JD BELTRAN approaches portraiture as a time-based document of lived experiences. She seeks out the private moments of friends and strangers, collecting data for use in intimate, confessional works.
STEPHANIE SYJUCO is a prankster — a conceptual artist whose work is mutable, appropriative and always very funny.
MICHAEL ARCEGA works in wood and assemblage, drawing inspiration from language, especially jokes and mistranslations.
DESIRÉE HOLMAN explores the performative nature of love and family in works that combine sculpture, video and drawing.
HASAN ELAHI's entire life is a work of art. Concerned with how ubiquitous technology both enhances and infringes on personal freedom, he investigates spaces of autonomy within systems of control.
TARANEH HEMAMI is a conceptual chameleon whose work is always changing form. An Iranian expatriate, she uses the materials of home and street to address the pointed silences of her oppressed countrymen.
ALA EBTEKAR looks for connections between American youth culture and the artistic underground of Iran, his ancestral land.
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