A woman with dark hair with a pink headpiece holds in her left hand a small green sculpture of a seated figure.

10 Must-See IRL Shows in SF

September 18, 2020

Itching to get out of the house?  We’ve curated a list of the top IRL exhibitions at galleries and museums opening this fall in the Bay.

Artist Jay DeFeo stands on a latter with paint brush in hand to work on her masterpiece painting "The Rose".

Jay DeFeo working on The Rose (1958–66) in her San Francisco studio, 1960. Photo: © Burt Glinn/Magnum Photos


Gagosian Gallery | 657 Howard St, San Francisco
September 10 – October 31, 2020

One of Laura’s best memories from decades of involvement with the San Francisco Art Institute is excavating Jay DeFeo’s 1 ton masterpiece, The Rose, from behind a conference room wall at SFAI in 1995. This exhibition offers a rare glimpse into a lesser known period of Jay DeFeo’s life, following the completion of The Rose and a three year hiatus from art. Showcasing drawings and acrylic paintings from 1971-1980, Gagosian highlight DeFeo’s triumphant return to art-making, as she expanded her practice into new mediums, including acrylic and photomontage.

Laeh Glenn (Image courtesy of artist).


Altman Siegel Gallery | 1150 25th St, San Francisco
September 17 – October 24, 2020

We have been drawn to Laeh Glenn’s painting practice for many years.  Her work references technology and social media through her signature flatness with a unique and modern approach. In her newest paintings, Glenn explores her journey through quarantine, while making reference to Norman Juster’s novel “Phantom Tollbooth” from 1961.

Two large black and white paintings are installed in a gallery.

Alicia McCarthy exhibition installation. Courtesy of Berggruen Gallery.


Berggruen Gallery | 10 Hawthorne St, San Francisco
September 3 – October 10, 2020

One of the most influential Bay area artists working today, Alicia McCarthy received long overdue recognition by winning SFMOMA’s prestigious SECA award in 2017. Building on her signature style, this exhibition features McCarthy’s most recent paintings and drawings, with her trademark weaves, helices, rainbows, spectrums, and negative weaves.

Isaac Julien, Lessons of the Hour, 2019, Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco.


McEvoy Foundation | 1150 25th St, Building B, San Francisco
October 14 – March 13, 2021

The British artist Isaac Julien relocated to Santa Cruz for a teaching position at UCSC, where he has launched a film lab for his MFA students. This installation at the McEvoy Foundation reimagines the life of  Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) by incorporating excerpts from the abolitionist’s speeches and dramatizations of his life.

Leo Villareal “Harmony of the Spheres” 2020 installation image. Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery, Palo Alto.


Pace Gallery | 229 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto
August 25 – October 10, 2020

Harmony of the Spheres highlights three new LED works by Leo Villareal  alongside eight single-panel pieces from his Instance series (2018). Villareal, the artist behind the Bay Bridge light installation, works by combining LED lights and encoded computer programming to create illuminated displays.

Nan Goldin, French Chris on the convertible, NYC, 1979. Pigment print, 20/25, signed verso, 31-3/4 x 46-7/8 inches (framed). Courtesy of the artist and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.


Fraenkel Gallery | 49 Geary St, Suite 450, San Francisco
September 8 – October 24, 2020

This group show features a poignant video complilation by Mishka Henner of 18 separate voices joining to sing Sam Smith’s I’m Not the Only One, surrounded by photographs that explore solitude and our need for connection. From Christian Marclay, Richard Misrach to Nan Goldin and Katy Grannan, each photograph explores this especially poignant theme in today’s socially distanced world.

A black piece of clay is imprinted with the outline of a woman's face and her curly hair.

Erica Deeman, Untitled 01 (Self portrait), 2020, Cassius obsidian clay, unique in a series. Courtesy of the artist and Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco.


Anthony Meier Fine Arts | 1969 California St, San Francisco
August 25 – October 2, 2020

LSSAA has been following this British artist’s nuanced practice, since we saw Deeman’s debut exhibition Silhouettes (2017) at the Berkeley Art Museum. In this current exhibition Familiar Stranger, Deeman juxtaposes two very different mediums, hand-made self-portraits in clay created with the aid of 3D-printing. Taking clay, a medium that often records the artist’s process, Deeman then contrasts this labour intensive medium by stamping it with a photographic likeness of the herself.

Three naked women are covered in body paint are standing between clouds fo colored smoke in a desert.

Judy Chicago, Smoke Bodies, 1972; from Women and Smoke, printed 2018
Archival pigment print. Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco.


Jessica Silverman Gallery
online exhibition

During these long months of lockdown, we have been reflecting on our favorite art viewing moments. Topping our list is Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party at the Brooklyn Museum, an epic feminist installation imagining important women from history at one monumental dinner table. For those of us unable to travel, Jessica Silverman offers an online exhibition featuring two important bodies of work by Chicago.

A photograph of a marsh which is reflecting the leafless trees behind it in the water.

Edward Burtynsky, Natural Order #33, 2020. Pigment ink print. Courtesy of the artist and Robert Koch gallery.


Robert Koch Gallery
online exhibition

In the early days of the pandemic, Edward Burtynsky found himself in in a remote area of Ontario. Taking advantage of Canada’s dramatic seasonal changes, he began capturing the transition from winter to spring. Burtynsky shot the surrounding forests with a new camera capable of unprecedented detail, creating his most abstract and painterly photographs.

A painted indoor mural with a cartoon figure lying on the ground crying and the another figure to the right sitting cross legged crying.

Chanel Miller, A detail of the vinyl wall installation I was, I am, I will be (2020), © Asian Art Museum.


re-opens September 25th

Uncanny Valley: Being Human in the Age of AI

Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving

re-opens October 4th

David Park: A Retrospective

Dawoud Bey: An American Project

re-opens October 1st

Chanel Miller: I was, I am, I will be

re-opens October 22nd

Jeffrey Gibson: Nothing is Eternal

re-opens October 1st

Ron Nagle: Handsome Drifter

Rosie Lee Tompkins: A Retrospective 

Catherine Opie: Political Landscapes

*Please consult museum websites on how to schedule your visit!