Between catching up from our four month Asia trip, weeklong trips to LA and New York, finishing my book (which is scheduled for September publication) and the winding down of Joyce’s consulting career, we missed all too much of what was going on in our adopted home town of San Francisco: restaurant openings, museum and gallery exhibits, wine tastings, plays and much more.
This required a concerted effort to make up for lost time while simultaneously keeping up with the many new doings throughout the city.
This series of blog posts examines our experiences with four of our favorite city leisure pursuits: art museums and galleries, theater, wine tastings and last, but certainly not least, keeping up with all of the city’s new restaurants, while still having time to revisit many of our favorites. The particular highlights and lowlights of this process are split into four posts.
Among the most interesting of our museum and galleries visits were:
- Exploratorium, which we had not previously visited. Although a one-day visit cannot possibly do justice to this huge, greatly expanded Pier 15 interactive museum, we tried to do just that. Our five-hour exploration provided almost enough time for a very brief, very high-level survey of most of the exhibits, where we were able to see, read the explanations of and see people explore (although very little time to ourselves experiment with) most of the fascinating displays. Even with this high-level survey, we had to make a very, very brief closing-time rush through the natural history exhibits.
- Pier 24, an exhibition space dedicated exclusively to photography. Our first (and now that we have seen it, not our last) visit was for the “A Sense of Place” exhibition, which explores how photographs shape our perceptions of our environments. The majority of the works are from the Pilara Foundation collection. Among our favorites were Paul Graham’s “The Present” images of Manhattan and Lee Friedlander’s “America by Car”, a series of images of everyday America through car windows and mirrors. Our favorite of all was a series of 19th century photos of Western landscapes, towns and mines from the Paul Sacks Collection.
- SOMArts Gallery, where we caught the new “Eating Cultures” exhibit, which included a broad range of thought-provoking works in which Asian-American artists portrayed their perceptions of the central, but very different roles of food in their ancestral, family and American cultures. Although we know that art should not have to be explained, we found the brief artist explanations to be incredibly helpful in interpreting and appreciating the more than 30 different pieces.
- Legion of Honor’s three current visiting exhibits; “Matisse from SFMOMA” (a display of 23 of the temporarily shuttered museum’s works), Matisse and the Artist Book (a display of a number of the art books that he produced, with some of the illustrations he created for them), and the National Gallery’s 70+ small-scale “Intimate Impressionism” landscapes, seascapes, still lifes, interiors, and portraits. While the Matisse exhibits contained some wonderful works, the Impressionism exhibit was the star, tracing the movement from pre-impressionist “Plein Air” painters like Boudin, through those of different stages of impressionist masters (Pissaro, Sisley, Monet and especially Renoir), through the post-Impressionist (Cezzane, Gauguin, Seurat and so forth) and Nabis (especially Vuillard and Bonnard) movements.
We now anxiously await the opening of the DeYoung’s “Modernism from the National Gallery of Art” exhibit, which provides an overview of American art from the end of World War II through the end of the century.