I was lucky enough to visit San Francisco this month. Excited about spending some time in the city (I had been there once before very briefly) and warmer weather (I narrowly missed the biggest storm to hit the Northeast) I couldn't wait to check out the city.
A bit to my dismay, my first day greeted me with cloudy skies, gale winds and sudden downpours. After a morning of soggy walking, I decided inside was the place to go. After all, the city wasn't going anywhere.
SFMoMA is located in the SOMA district, just off Mission. It's an amazing building to behold. The entry alone creates a tone of art within safe (in my case, dry) confines. All other thoughts leave your mind as you enter the atrium.
Murals by Kerry James Marshall flank the stairway. On either side, you're confronted with a bright landscape. Climbing the steps reveals a new perspective. I found myself checking the murals from each angle, seeing what I missed at the last past and what the new sight brings.
By the time I climbed to the top of the stairs all thoughts of my wet feet and the weather outside had evaporated.
The third floor opened to featured local artists. In a room to my left I heard music and saw images reflected of a video screen. Inside, I found the work of San Francisco artist Desiree Holman. I wasn't sure what to think from the start, people were dancing around with strange masks. The piece was called The Magic Window. A fifteen minute video, it makes commentary on popular families in American television. The piece was engrossing. As I stood, I realised that the room was filled with delicate pencil drawings of the characters. As a whole, it was one of the most complex installations I've seen.
As I worked my way through the museum collections, I was impressed with the variety. The installations weren't enormous, but they claimed their own spaces and created their own moods.
The Modern and Contemporary permanent gallery is what the museum is really known for. It's an exciting collection, even for a jaded New Yorker.
By far, my favorite piece was in the Contemporary collection. In this sculpture by Katharina Fritsch, three rings of poodles stand closely together pointing toward the center. It took me a few moments to see the center, it's dense with puppy sculptures - the figure of a baby sits lays in the center on a gold star. It's a simple piece, perhaps that's what's why it's so moving. Only three colors are used, only three forms (the poodles, the baby, the star). Without explicit religious connotations, she managed to create something quite moving.
By now my trip through the museum was complete. What a fantastic piece to end with! I peeked through a window and noticed that the sun was out. Not only had it stopped raining, but Yuerba Buena park was across the street, sparkling in the sunlight, awaiting me.Feeling introduced to the creative personality of San Francisco, I was now ready to explore the city itself.