This obviously cannot be compared to the live experience of a museum or gallery. But with many such venues closed by the pandemic, a home computer can be a welcome way to watch the visual arts. The following is an overview showcasing sites to see exhibits that were scheduled to be seen in museums but canceled due to the lockdown. Some also feature exhibits from past museums and impressive permanent collections. Visitors can also live stream events, including talks and artist performances. Some require pre-registration and fees. Zoom events require a Zoom account.
Also below are some gallery exhibits that the public can safely visit in person. Most require an appointment.
Asian Art Museum: Thousands of works of art from the museum’s collection can be viewed online, along with selections from recent exhibitions. Virtual events include a discussion titled “From Art to Activism: Amplifying Black and Asian Voices of Resistance” (5 p.m. Sept. 10); an interdisciplinary Writers Lab reading with 15 local writers (1 p.m. September 12); and a cooking demonstration featuring chef Reem Assil and her Palestinian knafeh (phyllo dessert) recipe (6:30 p.m., September 17). asianart.org
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive: Virtual tours, slideshows, films and special event recordings include a dance performance of “Storm in Isolation” by inkBoat and a discussion titled “House and Home: The Transgender Experience” (4:00 p.m. September 12). Exhibits include “Kader Attia: Matrix 274” (October 18-November 17), which addresses the trauma of war. bampfa.org
Cantor Arts Center: A self-guided interactive virtual tour offers a “360-degree rendering of ‘The Medium is the Message: Art Since 1950′, an exhibition that explores artists’ non-traditional use of materials for critical and expressive inquiry”, including including works by Ruth Asawa, Titus Kaphar, Gwendolyn Knight, Alice Neel, Miriam Schapiro, Roger Shimomura, and Zhou Tiehai, among others. American Portraiture” are also online. museum.stanford.edu
Contemporary Jew Museum: “Levi Strauss: A History of American Style,” searchable online, covers the life and contributions to fashion, culture and counterculture in San Francisco of Levi Strauss, the Bavarian immigrant whose the SF-based company in the 1870s brought blue jeans into being. Also online: “Predicting the Past: Zohar Studios, The Lost Years,” a photographic exhibition in which artist Stephen Berkman pays homage to 19th-century photographer Shimmel Zohar. Zoom discussions related to the show are planned. thecjm.org
DeYoung Museum: Collections, which feature American art; art from Africa, Oceania and the Americas, and textiles; can be seen online. Special exhibits include “Uncanny Valley: Human Being in the Age of AI,” a group exhibit that examines humans’ relationship with machines that mimic human thought; and “Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving”, a collection of personal items from Kahlo’s home in Mexico City that collectively examine how gender, disability and ethnicity have shaped Kahlo’s art. famsf.org
GLBT Historical Society: Images from the exhibition “Reigning Queens: The Lost Photos of Roz Joseph,” known for its photos of drag queens and San Francisco balls in the 1970s, will be posted online September 21. Also playing are “Performance, Protest & Politics: The Art of Gilbert Baker” and “50 Years of Pride”. Events include “Mighty Real: A Celebration of Sylvester” with music videos and memorabilia from the disco diva ( 4:00 p.m. September 16) and “Reunion: Making History,” a fundraising gala hosted by Peaches Christ and Marga Gomez (4:00 p.m. October 16). glbhistory.org
Legion of Honor: The collections, which can be consulted online, present fine and decorative arts from Europe and ancient art from the Mediterranean basin, as well as works on paper. Also online is “Alexander Singh: A Gothic Tale”, a recent film and installation project inspired by gothic literature and film noir filmed in San Francisco. amsf.org
Africa Museum Diaspora: The MoAD focuses on the art and culture of Africa and people of African descent worldwide, and is one of the few museums in the world to do so. Virtual activities – artist talks, panel discussions, film screenings, book clubs – reflect the mission. They include a Zoom conversation with playwright-performer Anna Deavere Smith hosted by writer Sarah Ladipo Manyika at noon on September 11. moadsf.org
Oakland Museum California: “Dorothea Lange: Photography as Activism” explores the social activism reflected in the work of Lange, known for her images of the Great Depression. Also online is “Black Power,” an exhibit that examines black history, the Black Power movement, and Oakland’s place in it; and “Edith Heath: A Life in Clay,” which celebrates Heath’s physically robust and creative ceramic tableware. museumca.org
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Art: Exhibits, including the remarkable Dawoud Bey retrospective of photographs documenting underrepresented communities and African-American life and history, are featured online, as are pieces from extensive collections of modern and contemporary art, which include pop art, minimal art, figurative art, American Abstraction and German art. The videos feature artist talks and art-making activities. sfmoma.org
Dolby Chadwick Gallery: “Scrambling for Grace” features new paintings by Russian-born, Pennsylvania-based Alex Kanevsky, whose works combine representation and abstraction and trigger sensory, non-rational responses in the viewer. Kanevsky’s imagery suggests movement and the continuous advancement of time. Subjects include breakfasts and reclining nudes. [Oct. 1-31, 210 Post St., No 205, S.F.; dolbychadwickgallery.com, (415) 956-3560; email email@example.com for appointment]
Gagosian: “Transcending the Definition: Jay DeFeo in the 1970s” contains more than 20 works by DeFeo, the Beat-era multidisciplinary artist known for his enormous painting-sculpture hybrid “The Rose” (1958-66). The exhibit features paintings, photographs, and drawings created by DeFeo during his post-“Rose” decade. Many feature everyday objects that seem, in his own words, to “transcend space and time.” [Sept. 10–Oct. 31, 657 Howard St., S.F.; gagosian.com, (415) 546-3990; email firstname.lastname@example.org for appointment]
Maybaum Gallery: “Everglow” by Victoria Wagner contains sculptures and paintings made with redwood wood burned by the Northern California wildfires. The works also feature bright colors and geometric patterns. The artist’s use of burnt wood reflects environmental realities such as climate change and the destruction and resilience of nature. [Through Oct. 15, 49 Geary St., Suite 416, S.F.; maybaumgallery.com; email email@example.com or call (415) 658-7669 for appointment]
San Fransisco art Institute“From the Tower: Transmission,” experimental videos created by alumni and curated by video art pioneer Tony Labat, screened on all four sides of the institute’s Chestnut Street tower in North Beach; the public can view them from nearby streets or building windows, and online. [Through Oct. 23; 800 Chestnut St., S.F.; (415) 771-7020, sfai.edu]