The de Young Open Dazzles

It’s Wednesday. The de Young museum is displaying hundreds of works by Bay Area artists through Jan. 7. Plus, we’ll be off the rest of the week for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Nunno Correia, left, and Bryce Griffith lifted a transparent case over a sculpture display during setup in September for the de Young Open exhibition.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Over the weekend, I visited the spectacular de Young Open, a dizzying exhibition of Bay Area artists’ work at the de Young Museum, San Francisco’s flagship art museum in Golden Gate Park.

The 883 works in the exhibition were selected through an open submission process that invited artists living in any of nine Bay Area counties to submit paintings, sculptures, photography and more. The event, which the museum plans to hold every three years, follows a format more often seen at community centers, schools and smaller museums, as my colleague Jori Finkel reported.

“In the United States, no major museum other than the de Young does an open call on such a large scale, perhaps because it goes against the grain of how museum professionals these days are trained,” Jori wrote.

“It’s an experiment that changes the role of curators from rather controlling gatekeepers to highly democratic door openers,” she continued. “And that means that some of the work is horribly — or wonderfully, depending on your point of view — out of touch with curatorial and market trends.”

You can read Jori’s article here.

The current exhibit, which runs through Jan. 7, is the de Young Open’s second iteration. The first, in 2020, was held in part to help artists who were struggling financially during the pandemic. It was also a celebration of the museum’s 125th anniversary.

“It felt like we were doing something for the city and artists in that dark period, a real boost for the institution and a boost for the community,” the museum’s director, Thomas Campbell, told Jori.

This time around, artists submitted 7,766 works for consideration, and a group of de Young curators and local artists narrowed the choices down to 883. They are displayed in salon style, hanging nearly floor to ceiling in eight large galleries.

“One of the most distinguishing characteristics of the de Young Open is that it really takes the pulse of Bay Area artists in the moment,” Timothy Burgard, curator-in-charge of American art for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, told KQED. He said there were works addressing the Jan. 6 attack, the war in Ukraine, women’s rights, climate change and other themes.

And in a true sign of the times, there were 27 entries submitted that were generated by artificial intelligence. The judges, who were unaware of that, did not choose any of them for display.

“When you look at them, you can understand why — they look like Frankenstein monsters, cobbled together by sourcing imagery on the web,” Burgard said. But he predicted that they were just the beginning: “In three years, for the next triennial, 2026, there will not be 27 entires that are A.I.-generated. There will probably be hundreds, if not thousands.”

If you read one story today, make it this

Two years in the American West with the country’s elite firefighters.

Animals from the San Diego Humane Society in California being prepared for transfer to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona in Tucson in August.Credit…San Diego Humane Society

The rest of the news

  • More than 300 animals that were sent to a humane society in Arizona by the San Diego Humane Society to be adopted as pets may have been turned into reptile food instead.

  • A recent study led by an ecologist at the University of California, Berkeley, illustrates how patterns of bigotry and inequality affect how birds and other species experience life in cities.

Southern California

  • Hundreds of migrants are being dropped off in unofficial camps in the border community of Jacumba, where local residents and advocates say conditions are dire, NPR reports.

  • A Los Angeles man who was fatally shot by a California Highway Patrol officer over the weekend was identified as an aspiring actor who struggled with mental health and substance abuse issues, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Central California

  • A two-alarm fire at California Dairies sent smoke billowing across downtown Fresno, and drew in about 50 firefighters to battle the blaze, The Fresno Bee reports.

Northern California

  • The ink painting “Six Persimmons,” a revered Japanese masterpiece from the 13th century, and its companion piece “Chestnuts” are visiting the United States for the first time from Kyoto, Japan, and will be on display at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco for three weeks this winter.

  • Representative Anna Eshoo, a Democrat whose Bay Area district stretches from Pacifica to Silicon Valley, said she would retire at the end of her term and not seek re-election next year, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

  • Peter Tarnoff, a diplomat who held top posts under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and helped arrange the “Argo” escape from Iran, died this month at the age of 86 at his home in San Francisco.

A road running through Humboldt Redwoods State Park.Credit…Drew Kelly for The New York Times

Where we’re traveling

Today’s tip comes from Dick Sacco, who lives in San Clemente:

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to [email protected]. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

Northgate Market in La Habra.Credit…Mark Rightmire/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

And before you go, some good news

Fans of Northgate Markets, the family-owned Southern California supermarket chain, got a treat last week in the form of a brand-new Mexican bazaar-style market in Costa Mesa.

The market, called Mercado González in honor of Don Miguel González and Doña Teresa Reynoso de González, the husband-wife duo who founded Northgate Markets in the 1980s, offers a vibrant cross-section of Mexican culture, including a wide range of foods, traditional pantry staples and artisan crafts, The Orange County Register reports.

Food stands serve up plates of slow-cooked pork, Sinaloa-style sushi and seven varieties of hot chocolate. Colorful murals created by Claudio Limón, an artist from Guadalajara, jump out from the walls, and live music completes the experience.

The emporium, on Harbor Boulevard, is open seven days a week, from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Thanks for reading. We’ll be back on Monday. Happy Thanksgiving. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.

Maia Coleman, Briana Scalia and Halina Bennet contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].


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