It was a May evening in San Francisco, but it felt like a shivery 32 degrees by the Bay. The fierce wind whipped sand everywhere—into eyes, hair, boots, even pockets. We dove headlong into wild gusts: the slighter people hung tightly onto handrails to forge up the stairs. This scene is probably not at all how you envision the process of purchasing art for the Museum’s collection! You were thinking perhaps of fancy previews in gallery backrooms?
Our blustery experience took place at the opening for International Orange, an extraordinary exhibition of fifteen new artworks organized by the FORSITE Foundation at Fort Point National Historic Site, the nineteenth-century US Army outpost at the anchorage of the Golden Gate Bridge. A hearty, bundled-up contingent from SJMA’s Acquisitions Committee and Board of Trustees braved the elements to explore the far corners of the fort and to share excitement over some of the most fascinating and relevant work we’d seen in some time.
This memorable night led—many months, conversations, and negotiations later—to SJMA’s two most recent major acquisitions, both highlights of the installations at Fort Point: Doug Hall’s Chrysopylae (2012), purchased with funds from the Acquisitions Committee and the Lipman Family Foundation (on view at the Museum for the first time this summer), and Stephanie Syjuco’s The International Orange Commemorative Store (A Proposition) (2012), a very generous gift from the artist and Catherine Clark Gallery, San Francisco, which will be on view in early 2014. Thanks to the support and daring of artists and patrons alike, SJMA is able to bring to its visitors these pivotal, amazing installations by two area artists of international reputation.
Memory is like a sixth sense— a powerful ingredient of visual perception, be it a memory we receive or one we hold within. In Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage, this esteemed photographer invokes our inherited cultural memory. She takes us on a journey through America past and present, gently humanizing the heroes of history by casting a close lens on the personal artifacts of their lives.
In contrast, Hung Liu universalizes very private, poignant memories. In Questions from the Sky, she creates a calm harbor wherein grief evolves into remembrance, smoothed by the expansive cycles of time. Liu encourages us to savor daily moments of beauty. She reminds us that the sensory experience of art often bridges reality and memory—a constant, rich theme in this summer’s programs at SJMA.
Oshman Executive Director
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