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July 19, 2021
Diego Rivera's "Pan American Unity". Image courtesy of SFMOMA

Your San Francisco Summer Arts Guide

Summer has arrived in San Francisco and the city’s art scene is ready to make up for lost time. Feeling overwhelmed by the wealth of options? Fear not. We’ve rounded up the very best that the city has to offer, well into fall. In fact, some of the city’s best weather tends to roll in around September and October. The best really is yet to come!

Open Now

Blackiful at Creativity Explored

Blackiful brings together 23 self-identifying Black artists as a response to the need for Black sanctuary spaces. The exhibition examines many questions, including what it means to be a Black person in a post-pandemic world. Through Aug. 19.

Sounds Like Home: Longing and Comfort Through Lullabies at SOMArts

Lullabies can be found throughout many cultures. They’re comforting and can tell stories about who we are and where we come from. They can also carry complex stories and deliver subliminal messages. Thirteen artists explore the idea of lullabies in this SOMArts exhibition curated by Duygu and Bengü Gün. Through Aug. 24.

Nam June Paik at SFMoMA

SFMOMA describes Nam June Paik’s retrospective as “a mesmerizing riot of sights and sounds.” The exhibition features more than 200 works by the legendary experimental artist, melding performance, music, art, and technology. Tickets for Nam June Paik range from free to $25. On display through Oct. 3.

Stern Grove Festival

The beloved music festival among the redwoods is back and boasting incredible concerts all summer long. Catch free shows by Joan Jett, X, Fitz & the Tantrums, Thundercat, Tower of Power, and more! Reservations are required. Can’t make it to the show in person? Live streams will also be available. Through Aug. 29.

SFWednesdays

Downtown San Francisco will come alive this summer with free live events in public places. SFWednesdays promises music, dancing, and more in places like Union Square and Transbay Plaza.

WOMEN我們: From Her to Here at the Chinese Cultural Center

Now in its third iteration, this exhibition explores ideas of feminism and gender through film, photography, paintings, and more. The show brings together a group of gender-diverse artists from the Bay Area, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and beyond to embody the non-binary experience. This show is available online and in person, but reservations are recommended. 

Diego Rivera’s Pan American Unity at SFMOMA

Diego Rivera’s massive Pan American Unity fresco was recently transferred from City College of San Francisco to the free Roberts Family Gallery space on the museum’s first floor. Weighing in at over 60,000 pounds, this mammoth work of art is a stunning homage to our fair city.

San Francisco Symphony's 2021-2022 Season

Treat yourself—and your ears—to something special with the San Francisco Symphony’s current season. Enjoy the orchestral series with Esa-Pekka Salonen, who leads live and digital projects exploring the music of Igor Stravinsky, including semi-staged performances of "Oedipus Rex" and "Symphony of Psalms", directed by Peter Sellars. And do not miss "The Matrix," directed by the Wachowskis and featuring Don Davis conducting his own score.

Summer 2021

July

teamLab: Continuity at the Asian Art Museum

This special exhibition at San Francisco's Asian Art Museum invites audiences to experience the immersive digital marvels of teamLab, an international art collective based in Tokyo whose exhibitions have achieved record-breaking global popularity. Immersed in teeming wonderlands, visitors to the exhibition are encouraged to roam freely through digitally projected environments of vibrant color and sound that dissolve into one another. The exhibition opens on July 23. Advance reservations are required.

Lina González-Granados Conducts the San Francisco Symphony

Don’t miss Lina González-Granados as she makes her San Francisco Symphony debut, July 30 & 31, with Manuel de Falla’s ballet The Three-Cornered Hat. The Spanish dance piece will be performed Friday, July 30 at Davies Symphony Hall before heading to Stanford’s Frost Amphitheater. Ticket prices range by venue. 

August

Edith Heath: a Life in Clay at Oakland Museum of California

The Oakland Museum of California will celebrate quintessential California designer Edith Heath with an exhibition of her stoneware creations that changed dinnerware forever. Learn the history of Heath Ceramics and how they embraced California’s native clays and glazes. There is a $5 charge for this special exhibition in addition to regular Museum admission.

Judy Chicago: A Retrospective at de Young Museum

Catch nearly 150 pieces by feminist art icon Judy Chicago in this engaging retrospective at the de Young museum. The show celebrates the 40th anniversary of her legendary sculpture “The Dinner Party” and its debut in San Francisco, as well as the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote. Opens Aug. 28.

September

CounterPulse Fall Festival

Legendary dance community CounterPulse has been bringing experimental and interdisciplinary dance and performance to the Bay for more than two decades. In its third iteration, their Fall Festival promises a week of dismantling and building architectures “towards a new social paradigm.” Stay tuned for the full schedule!

Flower Piano at San Francisco Botanical Garden

There’s nothing like live music under the stars. Local musicians come together in San Francisco’s scenic Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park for a few nights of ivory tickling fun. While this year’s schedule has yet to drop, past years have included stacked musical lineups, food trucks, and even outdoor bars. Stay tuned to the Botanical Garden’s website for details. 

Mode Brut at Museum of Craft and Design

The Museum of Craft and Design partnered with more than 50 Creativity Explored artists to reconceptualize fashion. The exhibition features four collections dreamt up by design teams working alongside local artists with developmental disabilities that utilize strange materials and recycled fabrics to reconsider everything we know about fashion. Opens Sept. 4. General admission tickets are $10. 

ArtSpan Citywide Open Studios

View incredible art with citywide Open Studios this fall from ArtSpan. The annual tradition offers visitors a close look at hundreds of artists’ work. Engage with the people who give San Francisco its unique creative culture and take home a special reminder of your time in our beloved city. Sept. 16 - Oct. 17.

Paper Chase: Ten Years of Collecting Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at the Cantor

If you find yourself at Stanford, swing by the Cantor Arts Center for a free showing of Paper Chase. The exhibition features over 100 acquisitions to the center and takes a closer look at issues of nature, social justice, and identity. Opens Sept. 29.

Fall 2021

October

Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park

One of San Francisco’s biggest music festivals returns with Tame Impala, Lizzo, and The Strokes headlining stages in gorgeous Golden Gate Park. Normally in August, this year’s festival will be Halloween weekend, so expect a few tricks and a whole lot of treats. General admission and VIP tickets are sold out, but a few exclusive ticket packages are still available. Oct. 29-31.

SF Dance Film Festival

Now in their 11th year, Dance Film SF’s main goal is to bring the art of movement to new audiences via dance-based media. In addition to film screens, the San Francisco Dance Film Festival also presents panels, workshops, and various other programs. The festival will run Oct. 15-24. Full lineup to be announced.  

TBA

The 7 Fingers at Club Fugazi

One of the city’s most storied theaters is back in business! Once home to Beach Blanket Babylon, Club Fugazi is reopening with The 7 Fingers, one of the world’s leading contemporary circus troupes. The intimate setting promises a heart-pounding, immersive experience that’s as original as San Francisco itself. 

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