Art World

Return of the arts

Museums reopen their doors to the public

Bay Area museums and galleries closed their doors to the public in March and have instead offered virtual tours and online education experiences. Starting in late September, several venues began taking precautions to reopen their doors while keeping public safety in mind.


The de Young has developed new safety measures to open its doors, including increased cleaning, sanitation stations, and Plexiglas shields. Signs will facilitate physical distancing along with timed ticketing and reduced capacity during museum hours.

Uncanny Valley: Being Human in the Age of AI” is on view through Oct. 25. The subject of AI (artificial intelligence) is addressed through a series of interactive installations including Lynn Hershman Leeson’s “Shadow Stalker” (2019). Through soliciting visitors’ email addresses, Shadow Stalker displays what personal data can be gleaned from an Internet search. The easy availability of personal data is communicated instantly, bringing awareness to the heightened level of surveillance that has been normalized in the contemporary world. Loss of privacy and lack of consent echo in Trevor Paglen’s installation, “They Took the Faces from the Accused and the Dead … (SD18)”(2020). The installation consists of more than 3,000 mugshots from the archives of the American National Standards Institute. In an act of exploitation, images were utilized to train early facial-recognition software without the consent of those pictured.

“Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving” brings new insight to the iconic painter through a treasure trove of her personal objects. Drawings, documents, dresses, accessories, and prosthetics give an intimate glance into her story of style in her everyday life.

Uncanny Valley: Being Human in the Age of AI and Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving: Tue.–Sun., 9:30 a.m.–5:15 p.m. through Oct. 25 and Feb. 7, respectively; de Young Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr., Golden Gate Park, 415-750-3600,


Currently on display is “Victoria Wagner: Everglow.” The mixed media wood sculptures and paintings combine the beauty of natural redwood with jeweled geometric color prisms painted in oil, creating a visceral meditation on climate change. The redwood is salvaged and, with wildfires raging for the fourth straight year, the medium takes on a new meaning. The artist explains:

We used to feel like we lived in a temperate rainforest, now we’re not so sure. The fires bring the ills of climate change right to our door, but they also highlight the human spirit in the face of tragedy and the way our community has remade itself in the aftermath of the Tubbs fire. That’s the “everglow,” when life finds a way, both human life and natural life, to move forward. 

Sourcing damaged redwood trees from a local arborist in West Sonoma County, where she lives amidst a redwood forest, Wagner carves the wood into faceted gemstone shapes, often determined by the damage to the tree itself. The charred, injured surfaces form shapes enhanced by the artist’s signature vibrant color field oil painting, carrying a message of beauty and resilience.

Everglow: Victoria Wagner: Appointment only (Zoom and FaceTime meetings also available) through Oct. 15, free, Maybaum Gallery, 40 Geary St., 415-658-7669,


Drive-in theaters are experiencing a renaissance across the country, and San Francisco’s first waterfront drive-in movie theater has come to the Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture. Located at an iconic location on the San Francisco Bay, Fort Mason Flix has featured a variety of films from family favorites to cult classics to blockbusters and arthouse cinema. Screening six days a week, Fort Mason Flix will feature an oversized 40-foot-by-20-foot high-definition LED screen, up to 90 times brighter than a standard movie theater projector. This dynamic allows the theatergoers to enjoy their favorite movie in daylight as well as after sunset.

In an effort to operate responsibly, Fort Mason Flix will offer online ticket sales, contactless check-in and concessions, a limited capacity, safe physical distance between vehicles, and regular restroom cleaning. Visitors will be required to wear masks at concessions, and any other time they are not in their vehicles. Also, in an effort to support nonprofits, whose in-person programming has been canceled, special screenings will be held in partnership with local film festivals and other nonprofit organizations. These screenings will allow the nonprofits to use the drive-in as a pop-up fundraiser and convene their communities for a special night of programming.

Fort Mason Flix: Tue.–Sat., Oct. 18, $49, 2 Marina Blvd., 415-345-7500,   

Sharon Anderson is an artist and writer in Southern California. She can be reached at

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