Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ Bay Area Now 4 Visual Arts exhibition is a triennial survey of local talent. It serves not simply as a survey, but rather it gauges the temperature of the regional art scene by generating artistic activity and a dialogue about the Bay Area’s significance as a cultural region. Bay Area Now celebrates artists who challenge conventional aesthetics and are leaders in the endless forming and reforming of contemporary artistic expression. It has attracted international recognition for Bay Area artists in the past, helping launch the careers of many of its participants.
Bay Area Now 4 is committed to displaying the most compelling work being produced in the Bay Area arts community today. With this signature event, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts demonstrates its commitment to showcasing work by local artists and giving expression to the cultural diversity of the community.
While Bay Area Now 4 has expanded into a multi-disciplinary festival, with a performing arts and film/video component, the visual art exhibition remains one of the festival’s central components. Designed to acknowledge and celebrate emerging and mid-career San Francisco Bay Area artists, the exhibition was created to establish a standard for serious consideration of the new experimental art being produced regionally. The survey has become a harbinger of trends on the national and international scenes as well as a launch pad for numerous local visual artists. Participants have included artists such as Barry McGee, Chris Johanson, Todd Hido, Rachel Neubauer and Kota Ezawa, many of whom have gone on to achieve recognition at prestigious events like the Whitney Biennial, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s SECA Awards show, and other major international festivals and exhibitions.
Co-curators René de Guzman and Berin Golonu comment, “Considering the past successes of the BAN exhibitions in revealing the vitality and unique voice of the region, it’s encouraging to have seen during our planning that the area continues to spawn new talents, and succeeds in growing as a diverse, robust and ambitious arts community. Broadly speaking, BAN 4 addresses strands of the local arts ecology that have yet to receive the attention they deserve, while displaying a high level of ambition, professionalism and smarts, as well as a vision for how the arts in the future may explicitly articulate its multi-layered value to society at large.”
The Visual Arts exhibition includes more than 30 artists—individual artists, collaborators, and artist groups. While their work widely varies in approaches to the creative process, the artists’ explorations are often driven by an effort to make sense of fluctuating realities through a mapping of connective relationships—whether by investigating geographic networks, exploring community connections, diagramming visionary systems or translating number patterns into visual form. Another curatorial grouping in the show involves works that are made out of symbiotic relationships between artists and the public. At times, these works occur as performance-based situations within the gallery spaces that transform public discussion and instructional settings into participatory theater. Other works demand the direct involvement of audiences in the making of finished works or incorporate the views of lay people into the interpretation of the art on view. The exhibition will feature a series of performances and events happening in and around our galleries over the course of its run. Please consult our website www.YBCA.org for a complete list of exhibition events and schedules.
The exhibition is divided into two sections: the first floor galleries (Gallery 1 and 2 and the Anteroom) will be devoted to the more familiar Bay Area Now format, featuring works by individual artists, and will be on view from July 16 through November 6. Some of these projects include a replica of the interior of a Kate Spade store by sculptor Libby Black, containing hand-made recreations of Kate Spade accessories that Black has painstakingly constructed out of paper, glue, and paint; a newly commissioned stop-motion animation by photographer and video artist Hank Willis Thomas recapturing the moment of a violent crime that afflicted his family; the mandala-like “Mind Maps” of visionary artist Frederick Loomis, intended to function as “blueprints of the soul” of a future race of artificial intelligence who will replace humankind; Ari Marcopoulos’ photographs combining intimate scenes from his family life with sweeping views of a beautiful, yet dangerous-looking Northern California landscape; Josephine Taylor’s delicately crafted, finely detailed, large scale drawings that combine the artists childhood memories with surreal dream imagery, among many other newly commissioned projects.
The upstairs galleries (Gallery 3 and the Terrace Galleries) will showcase experimental, process-based work and interactive collaborative projects which reflect an important trend in contemporary art making in the Bay Area. This will launch a year’s worth of exploration into artist group activity that often solicits and engages direct audience participation. The projects explore the ways in which individuals who undertake such works often challenge the neat but artificial dividing line between artist and curator.
Some of the second floor Bay Area Now 4 projects include Ted Purves’ Momentary Academy, a series of classes that will be developed and operated through the Center, in which the Bay Area Now artists will act as the instructors, and gallery visitors are encouraged to sign up as students. The Center will host weekly scheduled classes at the art academy, which will take place during regular gallery hours. Stretcher, a collective of artists and writers who publish an online journal of art criticism, will host a weekly series of art salons in the Center’s Resource Room, at the service of generating critical dialog and exchange between Bay Area artists, writers, curators, instructors, students and audiences. These salons will be recorded, with edited versions transcribed for posting on the Stretcher.org web site. Artist Helena Keeffe plans to record a “Familiar Audio Tour” of the Bay Area Now 4 exhibition led by family and close friends of the artists. Contributors to the tour range from parents and grandparents to siblings, spouses and childhood friends of the participating artists. Like first-person radio journalism, these familial reflections create intimate portraits of the artists by imparting the personal histories of the people whose work has been chosen for the exhibition.
These upstairs exhibitions will close on September 25 to begin the cycle of interlocking openings and closings that YBCA is pursuing in the Visual Arts program schedule. Our galleries will now be open daily Tuesday through Sunday from July 16 – July 2. The new rotating exhibition schedule means that YBCA will no longer close the galleries for installation. (Rather than closing for two weeks in between sets of exhibitions as it has in the past, the YBCA galleries will be open to the public through June 2006 with a series of rotating exhibitions.)
Bay Area Now 4 Visual Artists:
Marisa Jahn and Steve Shada
Chris Kubick and Anne Walsh
Mail Order Brides/M.O.B.
Hank Willis Thomas
Anna Von Mertens