Celebrations, museum exhibitions, and gallery openings show love to San Francisco
Words by CATHERINE BIGELOW
Bob Fisher, Randi Fisher, Chris Bedford, Diana Nelson, John Atwater. Photo: JESSICA MONROY for Drew Altizer Photography.
From Bolinas to the Bayview, the famed atmospherics of San Francisco deftly spread its tendrils far beyond Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture to envelop a vast array of artists, dealers, cultural behemoths, galleries, and arts patrons amid the 10th edition of the FOG Design + Art fair.
FOG runs for only four days, but the city’s cultural vitality was celebrated in a weeklong series of exclusive dinners, new museum exhibitions, art openings, and even bowling (a coveted invite hosted by Fraenkel Gallery), all in homage to FOG’s theme: A Love Letter to San Francisco.
“I feel exponentially energized this year because I understand the impact of FOG on San Francisco and the arts community,” said San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Director Christopher Bedford, now in his second year leading the renowned museum. “With people from around the world traveling here, FOG has incredible momentum. Every day there’s two breakfasts, two lunches, and two dinners, plus cocktails and bowling.”
Photo: NIKKI RITCHER.
Yet the glamorous January 17 preview party, which benefits SFMOMA’s arts and education programs, wasn’t just a see-and-be-seen that unfurled at two historic Fort Mason piers. Serious shopping ensued at blue-chip galleries and the beloved Inner Richmond art emporium Park Life.
The fête was also a dazzling feast for the senses. Inside the Pier 3 Festival Pavilion, a giant purple placard emblazoned, with “To SF With Love,” greeted gala guests. The entryway installation was festooned with speakeasy-style seating that led to 46 international gallery booths and bounteous bars brimming with creative cocktails and abundant delicacies (sushi, dim sum, short rib “martinis”) dished up by McCalls Catering and Events.
Led by FOG steering committee members Douglas Durkin, Brittany Pattner, Sarah Wendell Sherrill, and Susan Swig, their vision was amplified by honorary chairs SFMOMA Board chairman Bob Fisher and his wife, Randi; SFMOMA Board President Diana Nelson and her husband, John Atwater; and advisory committee members Katie Paige and FOG founder Stanlee Gatti.
Strong sales were reported among the sold-out crowd of 2,000 supporters and collectors, who enthusiastically snapped up stellar works by such artists as Wanxin Zhang, Claudia Wieser, Pacita Abad, Alex Prager, Yayoi Kusama, Zio Ziegler, and Anicka Yi.
Jonathan Carver Moore. Photo: NATALIE SCHRIK for Drew Altizer Photography.
Right off the bat, half of the Schlomer Haus (San Francisco) collection was reserved. Jonathan Carver Moore, who recently opened his San Francisco gallery to highlight works by LGBTQ+, BIPOC, and women artists, sold two works by rising star textile artist Adana Tillman. Gladstone Gallery (New York) sold a Jim Hodges painting for $100K. And SFMOMA acquired a Sarah Myerscough Gallery (London) work, Storm Chair, by Full Grown artist Gavin Munro.
“In ten years, design and art has risen to prominence and the quality of work is now A-plus pieces,” says gallerist Jessica Silverman. “In Basel, Switzerland they say that to get into that fair, someone has to die. It’s not as dramatic here. But when dealers don’t return, that allows FOG to make space for new voices.”
This year, in a nod to the strength and resilience of FOG’s tin anniversary, the committee launched a new platform, FOG Focus.
Ali Pincus, Bridgette Lau, Jessica Silverman, Sarah Thornton. Photo: DREW ALTIZER PHOTOGRAPHY.
Held next door at Pier 2 — the former site of graduate studios for the late, lamented San Francisco Art Institute — organizers paid homage to that storied institution’s spirit of innovation and exploration by spotlighting nine emerging galleries (ranging in geography from Paris to Los Angeles) that showcase young, developmentally disabled, and underrepresented artists.
That space pulsed with tunes by DJ D Sharp and a gray box installation, Untitled (Human Mask), 2014, by Pierre Huyghe (on loan from the Kramlich Art Foundation). Pop-ups encompassed the Postscript Cafe and BOG (Books or Goods) bookstore featuring new releases by artist-run presses. José Figueroa was celebrated as FOG Focus’ inaugural artist-in-residence.
“It has been a remarkable ten years. Actually fourteen when you count that Stanlee (Gatti) founded SF20, the first modernism show, in 2008,” explains Durkin. “FOG Focus allows us to grow the fair as a cultural event that’s open to everybody. In securing Pier 2, we’re able to make space for younger dealers, smaller galleries and emerging artists that offers up another layer of the art market.”
LEFT: Lucy Sparrow. Photo: JESSICA MONROY. RIGHT: Wanxin Zhang. Photo: DREW ALTIZER.
One of those layers is delightfully expressed by British artist Lucy Sparrow. The @sewyoursoul creator, in her FOG debut, expressed her love of New York delis — and layered bagels — amid her mind-blowing Feltz Bagels bodega-inspired installation, which is stocked with 50,000 hand-sewn felt staples: condiments, crisps, booze, schmears, cigarettes, and bialys.
The fair also encompasses a series of smart panels, corralled by Susan Swig, a collector and longtime arts champion. In conversation are such dynamos as artist Tammy Nguyen, RE/Search publisher V. Vale, NIAD Executive Director Amanda Eicher, filmmaker Thomas Piper, artist Rafa Esparza, and fashion designer Erica Tanov.
“We don’t do PR, we get deeper. We curate talks relevant to right now and identify unique Bay Area institutions and artists,” says Swig. “FOG has always been good. But this year it’s elevated to a place with a distinct point of view. And everyone is happy to share the inspiration they derive from the San Francisco arts scene.”
That scene also celebrated one of its own at FOG’s Innovator Lunch, hosted by SFMOMA, this year honoring Stanlee Gatti. The mad modernist is a heralded San Francisco designer and devoted arts leader.
Stanlee Gatti, Penny Coulter. Photo: DREW ALTIZER PHOTOGRAPHY.
“FOG has always been led by a strong committee of creatives,” says Gatti. “The evolution of SF20 into FOG — as a serious, globally recognized art fair that continues to push boundaries — is thrilling for me. But as a San Franciscan, it’s heartening to see FOG expand as a civic endeavor synonymous with SFMOMA.”
During the McCalls-catered Innovators Lunch, starring Gatti faves of chicken pot pie and fried chicken, Bob Fisher toasted the creator, noting the invitation was one of the easiest to send out — and receive back almost 100 percent of “yes” RSVPs.
“There are very few people that can drive that kind of response other than Stanlee. He not only created FOG but has also given so much to San Francisco, a city he loves. Stanlee does an amazing job of bringing people together — not only in his work, but also in his life. I am enormously proud to call you a dear friend. Thank you, Stanlee, from the bottom of my heart, for all that you have done for us and SFMOMA.”
FOG Design + Art runs through 5 p.m., Sunday January 21. Piers 2 and 3, Fort Mason Center for the Arts, San Francisco.
Feature image: Zoe Fisher and Duyi Han attend FOG Design + Art Preview Gala on January 17th 2024 at Fort Mason Center Festival Pavilion in San Francisco, CA. Photo: KATIE RAVAS for Drew Altizer Photography.
January 19, 2024
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