2019 Winter Preview: A Guide to California’s Must-See Exhibitions

November 20, 2019

Temperatures are cooling, but things are just heating up for the California art scene.  From north to south, gallery exhibitions to museum retrospectives, check out our guide to the must-see shows of the holiday season, outlined below:



Rose B. Simpson at Jessica Silverman Gallery 
Rose B. Simpson’s solo-show Duo features a series of sculptures created in pairs.  Simpson comes from a tribe famous for the ceramics produced by its women since the 6th century AD.  An apprentice to her mother—an acclaimed native artist—Simpson grew up expressing herself in three-dimensions, mastering a wide range of ceramic, textile and metalwork practices. 

Installation view of Rose B. Simpson’s exhibition Duo, on view at Jessica Silverman Gallery through December 21st.

Shannon Ebner at Altman Siegel 
Shannon Ebner’s work investigates the correlations between photography and language. Using the medium as a linguistic tool, her work is Informed by various modes of experimental writing including poetry and political speech. For this new body of work titled WET WORDS IN A HOT FIELD, Ebner translates the camera’s language, originally culled from 35mm DSLR instruction manuals, into a series of large-scale photographic text fields.

A solo-exhibition featuring work by Shannon Ebner is on view this season at Altman Siegel (Image courtesy of Altman Siegel).

Damián Ortega at Adrian Rosenfeld Gallery
Mexican artist Damián Ortega’s Estridentópolis, is organized in collaboration with the iconic Mexico City based gallery Kurimanzutto, The works on view, composed of paper bags used to package and ship powdery cement mix, build on Mexico’s historical custom of creating papier-mâché effigies (“Judas” figures) to mimic religious figures and political personalities. Taking the shape of well known skyscrapers from around the world—the Marina Towers in Chicago, Habitat 67 in Montreal, and Taipei 101, —and topped with animal heads, Ortega’s skyscrapers shine a light on the unfettered ambition at the heart of monumental architecture.


Soul of a Nation at the de Young 
Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963-1983, is an internationally acclaimed exhibition celebrating art made by Black artists during two pivotal decades, when issues of race and identity dominated and defined both public and private discourse.  Organized by Tate Modern, the show explores how social justice movements, as well as stylistic evolutions in visual art (such as Minimalism and abstraction), were powerfully expressed in the work of artists. The de Young’s presentation includes a focus on Bay Area artists whose work promoted personal and cultural pride, collective solidarity and empowerment, and political and social activism, such as Emory Douglas and Wadsworth Jarrell. Other artists in the show include Frank Bowling, Barkley Hendricks, Fred Eversley, Martin Puryear, Faith Ringgold, Betye Saar, Alma Thomas, Charles White, and Sam Gilliam.

Blood (Donald Formey), 1975, by Barkley Hendricks is among the works on view in Soul of a Nation at the de Young (© Estate of Barkley L. Hendricks; Image Courtesy of the Artist’s Estate and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York). 


Soft Power at SFMOMA 
The exhibition SOFT POWER explores the ways in which artists deploy art to explore their roles as citizens and social actors.  Appropriated from the Reagen-era term used to describe how a country’s “soft” assets such as culture, political values, and foreign policies can be more influential than coercive or violent expressions of power, the title contemplates the potential of art and offers encouragement to the public to exercise positivity and influence on the world.  The show features newly commissioned and recent works by twenty international artists including Nairy Baghramian, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Eamon Ore-Giron, Cinthia Marcelle, Jason Moran, Tavares Strachan, among many others.

Curator Eungie Joo and artist Eamon Ore-Giron pictured at the opening of SOFT POWER at SFMOMA.



SECA Art Award at SFMOMA
Established in 1967 by SFMOMA’s Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art, the SECA Art Award recognizes and honors individual Bay Area artists each year and includes an exhibition at SFMOMA.  The 2019 SECA Art Award show features three Bay Area artists, each with a dedicated gallery: Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, Sahar Khoury, and Marlon Mullen. Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle’s interdisciplinary practice explores “the historical present,” her term for the persistent residue of history in contemporary life. Sahar Khoury transforms discarded materials into sculptures animated by freewheeling experimentation and personal narrative. Marlon Mullen takes magazine covers as his primary source imagery, translating them into vividly painted abstractions.

Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle is one of three Bay Area artists to be featured in the 2019  with the 2019 exhibition for SFMOMA’s SECA Art Award (Courtesy of the Artist and SFMOMA).






Charles Gaines at Hauser & Wirth
Palm Trees and Other Works, features new works from Gaines’ signature “Gridworks” series.  Employing native trees from Palm Canyon near Palm Springs, these luminous works have evolved from the artist’s rigorous application of his numbered systems—a process central to an esteemed, decades-long practice that interrogates the relationship between the objects and its subjective realms.  


Tatiana Trouvé at Gagosian 
An exhibition of new drawings and sculptures by Tatiana Trouvé, Entitled On the Eve of Never Leaving, marks Trouvé’s first Los Angeles-based exhibition.  In her large-scale drawings, cast and carved sculptures, and site-specific installations, Trouvé assesses the relationship between memory and material, pitting the ceaselessness of time against the remarkable longevity of common objects. Combining fragments from both natural and constructed ecosystems, she creates hauntingly familiar realms in which forest, street, studio, and dream coalesce.

Installation view of Tatiana Trouvé’s solo-exhibition, on view this season at Gagosian, Beverly Hills (Image Courtesy of Gagosian).

Channing Hansen at Marc Selwyn Fine Art 
An exhibition of new works by Channing Hansen is on view this fall at Marc Selwyn Fine Art.  To compose his intricately knitted works, Hansen uses algorithms to generate patterns which are then knitted and stretched over a frame.  For this show, the algorithm is drawn from systems found in both nature and the cosmos, transforming them into a network of loops and knots of yarn. As the artist explains “This series is based on growth patterns that structure fungus, neurons, and the distribution of galaxies.”

E3, 2019, is among the works on view in Channing Hansen’s solo-exhibition at Marc Selwyn Fine Art (Image Courtesy of the Artist and Marc Selwyn Fine Art).

Alex Hubbard at Regen Projects 
Alex Hubbard’s new solo-show at Regen Projects features a selection of new multimedia paintings, as well as two handmade projectors streaming animated videos. Hubbard’s paintings combine the language of abstraction with nontraditional, industrial materials like resin, fiberglass, pigmented urethane, and auto-body paint.  Employing a new UV printing technology, each composition in this series is achieved through a multi-layer process of paint pours and printing.

Alex Hubbard’s Youth Apparatus, 2019, is on view at Regen Projects through December 21st (Image Courtesy of Regen Projects).


Shirin Neshat at The Broad  
Shirin Neshat: I will Greet the Sun Again, takes its title from a poem by Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad.  Neshat’s largest exhibition to date, the show features over 230 photographs and eight immersive video installation works, offering a rare glimpse into the evolution of Neshat’s artistic journey as she explores topics of exile, displacement, and identity.  Included in the show is Neshat’s early photographic series entitled “Women of Allah,” conceptual narratives on the subject of female warriors during the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979. Each black-and-white photograph is inscribed with calligraphic Farsi text on the female body—eyes, face, hands, and chest.  The text is poetry by contemporary Iranian women poets who had written on the subject of martyrdom and the role of women in the Revolution.

Shirin Neshat: I will Greet the Sun Again, Shirin Neshat’s largest exhibition to date, is now on view at The Broad (© Shirin Neshat; Image Courtesy of the Artist and The Broad).

Julie Mehretu at LACMA
This mid-career survey brings together nearly 40 works on paper with 35 paintings dating from 1996 to the present by celebrated abstractionist Julie Mehretu.  Co-organized with the Whitney Museum of American Art, the exhibition reveals her focus on early drawing, mapping, and iconography and her most recent introduction of bold gestures, sweeps of saturated color, and figurative elements.

A mid-career survey celebrating the work of Julie Mehretu is now on view at LACMA through May 17, 2020.