Bay Area artists and global cultural innovators to be celebrated in 2022 art shows

Alice Neel “The Spanish Family”, 1943. Photo: © The Estate of Alice Neel, 1980 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

The Bay Area visual arts world is approaching 2022 optimistically but cautiously.

San Francisco’s unofficial art week is expected to return with the Fog Design + Art fair at Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture from Jan. 20 to 23. Among the events timed to that week are an installation by San Francisco artist Chris Martin at the new Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco in the Dogpatch neighborhood, a non-collecting museum expected to fully open in the fall.

Several noted Bay Area artists are also getting retrospectives and surveys that link their work to contemporary social issues, while shows focusing on pop culture powerhouses in entertainment and fashion promise to widen our lenses.

Here are some of the exhibitions to look forward to in the coming months.

Xiaoze Xie, “Panorama of Eternal Night,” 2021. Photo: Eugenio Castro

Xiaoze Xie

Artist Xiaoze Xie’s first exhibition with the San Francisco gallery is expected to feature the debut of Xie’s monumental, multi-panel painting “Panorama of Eternal Night.” The work, which combines media images of the global pandemic with famous works of art history including scenes from Dante’s Inferno illustrated by Gustave Doré; a Tang Dynasty mural from the Dunhuang Caves, “Disciples of Buddha in Mourning”; Giotto’s “The Lamentation of Christ”; and Francisco Goya’s “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.”

The artist’s grappling with the ongoing psychological trauma of the coronavirus pandemic is a theme many will no doubt relate to.

“Xiaoze Xie: Panorama of the Eternal”: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday–Saturday or by appointment. Jan. 6- Feb. 26. Free. Anglim/Trimble, Minnesota Street Project, 1275 Minnesota St., S.F.

Mary Heilmann, “Davis Sliding Square,” 1977. Photo: Dan Bradica / Courtesy Mary Heilmann / 303 Gallery and Hauser & Wirth

UC Davis’ Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art

The late multimedia artist and UC Davis Professor William T. Wiley is the focus of a new exhibition expected to open in January that surveys his early works and is designed to evoke his Mill Valley studio. The show also brings together works inspired by Wiley’s found object “Slant Step,” an item much pondered by the artist and Wiley scholars, and will debut a new digital work by a graduate student of Wiley’s, artist Bruce Nauman.

Another Wiley student, California native Mary Heilmann, is the subject of another show at the museum. The show features Heilmann’s early sculpture and “Davis Square” paintings from 1977, exploring how her years in Davis continued to influence her practice as an abstract painter after relocating to New York.

Both shows are expected to open in January and run through May 7.

11 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Monday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Free; reservations recommended. UC Davis’ Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, 254 Old Davis Road, Davis. 530-752-9623.

Carolyn Drake, untitled photograph from Knit Club series, 2018. Photo: Carolyn Drake / Magnum Photos

McEvoy Foundation for the Arts

The forthcoming exhibition from the McEvoy Family Collection explores conventions in representing womanhood in photography, as well as the concept of “image gardening,” where a photographer maintains a prolonged involvement with a subject to realize a photograph.

The show is expected to feature work by Diane Arbus, Zoe Leonard, Susan Meiselas, Lorna Simpson, Francesca Woodman and Stephanie Syjuco among others, as well as newly commissioned presentations by Marcel Pardo Ariza, Carolyn Drake and Chanell Stone.

Gina Basso guest-curates a related series of short films by and about women and nonbinary artists, “seen only, heard only through someone else’s description.”

“Image Gardeners”: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. Jan. 14-April 30. Free. McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, 1150 25th St., Building B, S.F. 415-580-7605.

Rashaad Newsome’s exhibition will be at the Minnesota Street Project in mid-January. Photo: Liz Hafalia / The Chronicle 2020

‘Build or Destroy’

Multimedia artist Rashaad Newsome is the subject of the fourth exhibition by the Minnesota Street Project’s California Black Voices Project set for mid-January. The new single-channel video, “Build or Destroy” brings to life Newsome’s female composition from his 2016 collage work “1st Place” and animates the exuberant and adorned figure against an original soundtrack, exploring themes around identity and performance with an emphasis on Black trans femme identity.

“Build or Destroy”: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Jan. 15-Feb. 26. Free. Minnesota Street Project, 1275 Minnesota St., Gallery 106, S.F. 

Cathy Lu, “American Dream Pillows.” Photo: Cathy Lu / Cathy Lu

Cathy Lu

In the latest solo exhibition of its XianRui (Fresh & Sharp) series, the Chinese Culture Center plans to present new work by Bay Area ceramicist Cathy Lu focusing on utopian garden myths like the Immortal Peach Garden of Chinese mythology and the biblical Garden of Eden.

“Cathy Lu: Interior Garden” will create a series of rooms that explore different aspects of the Chinese American and immigrant experiences through garden design tropes like water features, landscape views and conventions of rock placement in Chinese gardens.

“Cathy Lu: Interior Garden”: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Jan. 20-Dec. 17. Free. Chinese Culture Center, 750 Kearny St., S.F.. 415-986-1822 

Mural on Bauerware at 3886 17th St., in May 2020, funded by Paint the Void in San Francisco. Photo: Scott Strazzante / The Chronicle 2020

‘The City Canvas’

When the coronavirus first shut down Bay Area cities in March 2020, artists rose up and blanketed storefronts boarded up with plywood with vivid murals that served as both distractions from and reactions to current events. “The City Canvas: A Paint the Void Retrospective” will exhibit 48 works created by artists supported by the organization during the pandemic.

“The City Canvas: A Paint the Void Retrospective”: Noon-6 p.m. Jan. 22-23 and Jan. 29-30; 4-9 p.m. Jan. 27-28. Free, $10 suggested donation. Pier 70, 901 Illinois St., S.F.

From “Edith Heath: A Life in Clay” at the Oakland Museum of California Photo: Oakland Museum of California


The thrice-delayed celebration of Sausalito ceramics queen Edith Heath is finally expected (fingers crossed) to open in January at the Oakland Museum of California.

“Edith Heath: A Life in Clay” is expected to include early examples of the brand’s signature dishes, bowls and serving pieces as well as explorations of how Heath’s use of native California clay in her designs changed our dining tables forever.

“Edith Heath: A Life in Clay”: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Sunday. Jan. 29- Oct. 30. $7-$16, with children age 8 and younger free year-round. Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St., Oakland. 510-318-8400.

Alice Neel, “Jackie Curtis and Ritta Redd,” 1970. A Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition of Neel’s works is coming to the de Young. Photo: © The Estate of Alice Neel / Cleveland Museum of Art

Alice Neel

The acclaimed Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition “Alice Neel: People Come First” is scheduled to make its way to San Francisco. Neel was well-known for her socially conscious paintings of people that included a diverse cross section of humanity, from artists and radical activists to new mothers in Harlem and famed drag performers.

The de Young exhibition plans to also add new materials focusing on Neel’s time in San Francisco during the 1960s.

“Alice Neel: People Come First”: 9:30 a.m.-5:15 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. March 12-July 10. $15-$30. 50 De Young Museum, Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, S.F. 415-750-3600.

Jim Henson and his iconic creation Kermit the Frog. An exhibition of his puppets is coming to the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. Photo: John E. Barrett / The Jim Henson Co. / Museum of the Moving Image

Jim Henson

Traveling to the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco from the Museum of the Moving Image in New York, “The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination” celebrates the master puppet creator and filmmaker. Fans can look forward to seeing 150 artifacts, among them more than 25 puppets such as Kermit the Frog, Beaker and Scooter; “Sesame Street” characters Bert, Ernie, Grover and Count von Count; “Fraggle Rock” characters; and creations for Henson film projects “The Dark Crystal” and “The Labyrinth.”

“The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination”: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. March 31-Aug. 14. $16. Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., S.F. 415-655-7888.

Guo Pei, Elysium, Spring-Summer 2018. Photo: Lian Xu / Courtesy Guo Pei / Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Queen of Couture

China’s “Queen of Couture” Guo Pei is the subject of a fashion exhibition curated by Jill D’Alessandro coming in the spring. The show will emphasize craftsmanship and attention to detail in Pei’s work in gallery rooms enhanced by works from the museum’s decorative arts collection in conversation with the fantasy creations.

Pei is perhaps best known in the United States for creating Rihanna’s extravagant yellow gown for the 2015 Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala.

“Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy”: 9:30 a.m.-5:15 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. April 16-Sept. 6. $15-$30. Legion of Honor, Lincoln Park, 100 34th Ave., S.F. 415-750-3600.

Bernice Bing, “A Lady and a Roadmap.” Photo: Asian Art Museum of San Francisco

Asian Art Museum

Exhibitions of two significant local artists anchor the year at the Asian Art Museum.

The first-ever retrospective of late Filipino American artist and San Francisco Art Institute teacher Carlos Villa, set to open June 17, will focus on his then-radical activism regarding wider art world representation and feature many large-scale works using unconventional materials (hair, spit, sperm and bones among others) not seen in decades.

San Francisco Chinatown native Bernice “Bingo” Bing has long been marginalized in the history of the Abstract Expressionist movement, most likely because of her Chinese American and lesbian identities. Now Bing’s exhibition, scheduled to open July 15, will display several of her large and vivid canvases and focus on how her narrative as an outsider affected her work.

1-8 p.m. Thursdays; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays-Mondays.$15 general admission; $20 weekdays with teamLab admission; $25 weekends with teamLab admission. Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St., S.F.

Mary Lovelace O’Neal, “White Whale,” circa early 1980s. Acrylic and mixed media on canvas. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging / Mnuchin Gallery, New York

Mary Lovelace O’Neal

Museum of the African Diaspora presents Mary Lovelace O’Neal’s “Whales F—ing” painting series, the first exhibition for the UC Berkeley studio art professor emeritus since 1982. The works were created upon viewing whales in the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay during the artist’s first visit to the West Coast in the 1970s.

“Mary Lovelace O’Neal: Whales F—ing” 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Oct. 5-March 5, 2023. $5-10. Museum of the African Diaspora, 685 Mission St., S.F.

Diego Rivera, “The Flower Carrier,” 1935; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Katherine Du Tiel / © Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society, New York

‘Diego Rivera’s America’

Following the temporary installation of Diego Rivera’s “Pan American Unity” mural at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in June, the institution plans to mount what it promises will be the most in-depth examination of the Mexican muralist and political artist in more than two decades.

“Diego Rivera’s America” is expected to include 160 objects from Rivera’s work dating from the early 1920s through the early 1940s, including easel paintings, drawings and several portable frescoes that illustrate how the artist helped forge an aesthetic national identity for 20th century Mexico.

A date for the opening of the show has not yet been announced.

“Diego Rivera’s America”: 1-8 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Monday. $19-$25. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third St., S.F. 415-357-4000.