In the Bay Area, there is always an art show about to open, a gallery about to close, and a new artist yet to be discovered. If it’s the first Friday of the month, chances are events are stacked. By attending one show, there’s a good chance you missed out somewhere else. Trying to catch all the best art happenings, on both sides of the Bay and in person, can be pretty problematic.

FOMO aside, we got in touch with curators Tova Lobatz (Heron Arts), Micah Lebrun (111 Minna Gallery), Brock Brake (Athen B. Gallery), and Kim Larson (Modern Eden Gallery) to fill us in on what we might’ve missed in 2016 and guide us on our local art journey.

To narrow down the decision-making, each curator was asked to only select shows from their respective galleries. And like picking a favorite child, I’m sure the decision wasn’t easy, but here it goes!


Heron Arts, curated by Tova Lobatz & Noah Antieau

1. “Captured, People In Prison Drawing People Who Should Be” was a concept-based show by Jeff Greenspan and Andrew Tider. The team set out to organize and collect artwork done by prison inmates, depicting corporate CEOs whose companies were accused of serious crimes. In many ways, this show from June 2016, seems more relevant than ever as the CEO of Exxon, who was one of the people drawn in this series, is now a candidate for Secretary of State.

2. “The Detroiter” was a dream team collab bringing together some of Detroit’s finest audio and visual minds. Works by over 50 visual artists, selected by Detroit’s Inner State Gallery, were on display. Meanwhile, independent record label Ghostly International curated the sound space with sets by Matthew Dear and Shigeto, just to name a few.

3. “Farewell SF” was a solo show capturing years of work by painter and street muralist Spencer Keeton Cunningham. This large-scale solo show, which I’m sure many artists would love to have a chance at, was bittersweet, in that it marked another SF artist moving on due to Bay Area rent hikes. The all-too-familiar and heartbreaking story continuing into and out of 2016.


111 Minna Gallery, curated by Micah Lebrun

1. Solo exhibition “Marks, Scars, or Tattoos,” by Ed Hardy, an artist best-known for his iconic tattoo work, showcased printmaking and paintings from 2007 to present-day. A rare look at the artists’ newest work.

2. “DIALECT” proved that writers are not the only masters of the written word. This group show, featuring artwork by Marcos LaFarga, Andrew Lawrence (Gentlemen Scholar Signs) Isaac S. Lewin, Annica Lydenberg (Dirty Bandits) and Alphonzo Solorzano, brought together original artwork and installations with a shared focus on letters, play-on-words and text-based imagery.

3. “Lost America,” a solo show by Troy Paiva, brought photography of cinematic proportions to SF. Paiva’s mastery of colorful lighting brings an other-worldly effect to uninhabited geography that was best seen large-scale and in-person.


Athen B. Gallery, curated by Brock Brake
1. Axel Void’s solo exhibition “Nobody” includes a serendipitous backstory involving the chance meeting between the artist and Alvin Morris, a complete stranger at the time. This encounter led to a series of paintings and sculptures based off of Morris’ personal photographs, as well as a documentary film which was screened at this show.

2. “Ready, Set” was a group show featuring works by Brett Flanigan, Heather Day and Martina Merlini. A common theme shared by these artists were compositions that “expressed the motion of the everyday through dynamic abstracted compositions.”

3. Cannon Dill’s solo show “Casual Decline” introduced a new style for this Oakland-based artist. While staying true to a concise color palette and careful pen detailing, which he’s best known for, a new direction surfaced; one involving a more playful style and more abstract concepts.


Modern Eden Gallery, curated by Kim Larson & Bradley Platz
1. “Superabundance of Ordinary Being” a solo show by Latvian artist Jana Brike, featured fifteen new oil paintings. Demonstrating the skill of a classically trained artist set on a path of museum-styled portraits, Brike travels on to another world of her own, one filled with fantasy-like whimsy and deeper emotional undertones that quickly run the gamut of innocent to edgy.

2. Emilio Villalba’s solo exhibition “The Next Day” is a culmination of a year’s worth of exploratory painting and a departure from geometric forms in favor of a more gestural, layered oil painting effects, used to create a rich depth and abstract reduction of form.

3. The four-person exhibition “Hindsight” featured artwork by Josh Keyes, Sandra Yagi, Ahren Hertel, and Ellen Jewett. As Bradley Platz, describes the show, “there is a somewhat post-apocalyptic environmental hindsight running through each of these four artists’ works.” The show, technically beautiful by all accounts, also serves a deeper purpose of inviting its viewers to start conversations about man’s effect on the fragile ecosystem. A topic that will be all the more relevant as we enter into 2017.

Related article: Check out the Top 15 Curators’ Choice selections of 2015

Side note: If attending more art events in 2017 is one of your goals, we got you covered. In 2017, SF Station is expanding the number of events covered on our art calendar. Check there, check often.