In early 2020, after the advent of the Corona Virus pandemic, art museums, music venues, and most public institutions closed their doors for public safety. With this impetus, San Francisco’s de Young Museum initiated an ambitious local project. Seasoned and emerging Bay Area artists were invited to enter a salon-style 9-gallery juried exhibition called “The de Young Open”. Out of more than 11,000 entries, 877 pieces by 763 artists had been chosen. I was honored to be one of those, with my piece “Heated Boundaries.” In spite of virus case surges and a planned 15 week show open for only 7 weeks, the show did open with mask and distancing protocols in place.
A salon style show is meant to be eye-popping and overwhelming. It invites you to return because you can’t possibly take in the scale and “wallop” in one viewing. The sensitivity and subtlety of subject matter also bring you back for exploration. You can see the show on line (and my piece) until January 31, 2021 at: https://deyoungopenexhibition.artcall.org/pages/web-gallery?keyword=Ileana+Soto
My piece “Heated Boundaries” refers to that zone in which populated areas and “the wild” come into close contact. It is here that we experience one of the many dangerous effects of the warming of our climate. Extreme fires have devastated communities in California and throughout the world.
The show is wide-ranging, including potent and relevant themes of Black Lives Matter, social justice, the pandemic, Bay Area views and scenes, representation, abstraction, and portraiture. All media were included. In viewing the show, I was thrilled to be in the midst of the diversity, artistry, and depth of expression that distinguishes our area’s artists.
The museum world is changing. De Young Museum Executive Director Thomas Campbell acknowledges that “looking locally and relying less on traveling exhibitions of internationally famous artists may be a key part of how Fine Art Museum San Francisco (FAMSF) will move forward.” Timothy Anglin Burgard, FAMSF curator-in-charge of American art, states that “museums have been dependent on the blockbuster exhibition schedule. Here, we are relinquishing that role for a more populist model that engages community.”