Each week, our regional Cliff Notes columnists Christopher Alam, Sharon Arnold, Demian DinéYazhi’, and Angella d’Avignon pick the most exciting events and exhibitions on the West Coast. BUT this week we had a scheduling conflict, so VW founder Amelia Rina is popping in with some picks from Northern California.
What are words worth?
McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, San Francisco, CA
June 16 to September 2
I have such deeply bittersweet feelings about this show at MFA. What are words worth? is the final exhibition at McEvoy Foundation for the Arts before it closes to the public, an institution I’m devastated I never had the chance to visit during its five years of existence.
Though my experience of the foundation has been though only online galleries and press releases, their programming made me excited and optimistic about the Bay Area’s art community and how privately funded institutions (MFA presents exhibitions and events that engage themes in the McEvoy Family Collection) could function within the broader gallery and museum ecosystem.
As a writer and editor, it’s also easy to take the exhibition title’s question very personally. It feels like writing, and arts writing in particular, is/has been experiencing an extinction event. I’m obviously biased, but I think while words aren’t everything they sure are a lot. Imagine an art world without rigorous, beautiful art writing. A world in which the only written record of all art programs are the press releases, probably written by AI. Or, if they are written by a creative human, that human is paid by the organization benefiting from the coverage via heavily-veiled sponsor content. We’re not far from that being a total reality.
One of the things I struggle with most as an editor is finding freelance writers who can afford to take the time to write. By that I mean very few writers live off writing alone, and so they have to find jobs doing other things. That leaves our precious free time as the only opportunity for creative writing, and when you’re getting paid only $50 for a Critics’ Pick in ArtForum or $150 for a review in VW, it can be hard to justify the time for the work when you also want to sleep or hang out with friends.
I keep trying different solutions, and some have worked better than others. I’ve tried to stop fighting for art writing but, annoyingly, I can’t. Let me know if you want to team up.
Reflection: What are words worth to you?
Personal Space grand opening
Personal Space, Vallejo, CA
Now for some optimism! All I know about Personal Space is what they submitted to their event listing:
Personal Space is an artist-run gallery opening in Vallejo, CA, featuring work by emerging, under-recognized, and mid-career artists. The gallery’s back room offers works on paper, artist books, t-shirts, sculptures, and artist editions.
Plus, and very importantly, the all star line-up of artists running the artist-run project: Keith Boadwee, Maria Guzmán Capron, Takming Chuang, Reniel del Rosario, Lena Gustafson, Jordan/Martin Hell, Cliff Hengst, Karen May, Carlos Charlie Perez, Abel Rodriguez, Gyan Shrosbree, Jennifer Sullivan, Sarah Thibault, and Phyllis Yao.
These are folks doing exciting, energetic, experimental, ecstatic, extraterrestrial things with their chosen materials and I am here for it. While too many things seem to be closing or ending, I’m thrilled to see new beginnings like this and can’t wait to learn more.
Reflection: When was the last time art made you feel joy?