Press Releases


Exhibition Schedule 2018

San Francisco Art Institute introduces its 2018 exhibitions, taking place at both its new Fort Mason campus and its historic campus on Chestnut Street:


In Around Beyond
Main Gallery, Fort Mason Campus: Extended through January 21, 2018
Walter and McBean Galleries, Chestnut Street Campus: Through February 3, 2018

This group exhibition features artworks in, around, and beyond SFAI’s two campuses, representing the institution as a single point of departure, as an entry point, and docking station for artists who mine the past and model the future.

It features work by Keith Boadwee, Nao Bustamante and Miguel Calderon, Bryan Davis, Gutzom Borglum, María Elena González, Greenpeace, Bill Fontana, Mads Lynnerup, Alicia McCarthy, Laura Poitras, Postcommodity, Radio Healer, Rigo 23, Phil Ross, Jon Rubin, Kal Spelletich, Sans façon, and Mel Ziegler.

Isaac Julien's PLAYTIME
Gray Box Gallery, Fort Mason Campus: Through February 11, 2018

An ambitious exhibition featuring three recent video installations that explore the wide-ranging effects of how information, labor, and capital circulate in our global, networked societies. Presented by SFAI in partnership with Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture (FMCAC) and the Kramlich Collection, the exhibition occupies three spaces on the FMCAC campus. SFAI’s newly constructed Gray Box Gallery at Fort Mason is the venue for Better Life (Ten Thousand Waves) (2010), the cinematic cut of Julien’s monumental installation Ten Thousand Waves.



Bill Fontana: Landscape Sculpture with Foghorns
Main Gallery and Gray Box Gallery, Fort Mason: February 16–April 29, 2018
Landscape Sculpture with Foghorns exterior installation: February 16, 2018–January 1, 2019
Opening Reception: Friday, February 16, 6–9pm

Internationally-renowned sound artist Bill Fontana will re-present his 1981 work Landscape Sculpture with Foghorns. Installed in the same location on the eastern wall of Pier 2 (now the home of SFAI’s Fort Mason campus), the temporally-specific installation layers and overlaps with the contemporary soundscape of the San Francisco waterfront.

The original 1981 iteration of this work was a live acoustic map of San Francisco Bay. Microphones were installed at 8 different positions around the Bay in order to hear the multiple acoustic delays from the fog horns on the Golden Gate Bridge. Sounds were broadcast to the facade of Pier 2. Listeners are able to hear various locations simultaneously, delayed by the distances the sound has to travel, translating topography into sound.

Alongside this “sound sculpture”—Fontana’s preferred term for his work, for the ways sound can define space and immerse the viewer—Fontana presents recent audiovisual artworks, which he refers to as “acoustical visions,” within SFAI’s Fort Mason Galleries. These include Space Voyage (2015), Resonant Silences (Southern facing bell, MetLife Tower, New York) (2015), Resonant Silences (Temple bell, Nanzen-gi, Kyoto) (2015), Red Pylon Study (2014), and Black Sea Study (2014).

Bill Fontana (b. 1947, USA) is an American composer and artist who developed an international reputation for his pioneering experiments in sound. Since the early ‘70s, Fontana has used sound as a sculptural medium to interact with and transform our perceptions of visual and architectural spaces. He has realized sound sculptures and radio projects for museums and broadcast organizations around the world. His work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, the Post Museum in Frankfurt, the Art History and Natural History Museums in Vienna, both Tate Modern and Tate Britain in London, the 48th Venice Biennale, the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, the Art Gallery of NSE in Sydney, and the new Kolumba Museum in Cologne. He has done major radio sound art projects for the BBC, the European Broadcast Union, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, National Public Radio, West German Radio (WDR), Swedish Radio, Radio France, and the Austrian State Radio.

Phillippe Rahm: Anthropocene Style
Presented in partnership with swissnex
Walter and McBean Galleries, Chestnut Street: March 29–May 19, 2018
Opening Reception: Thursday, March 29, 6–9pm

Swiss architect Phillippe Rahm is known internationally for his groundbreaking work in the context of sustainability. His new installation at SFAI investigates questions around aesthetic choice: by what process does an architect, a designer, and even a painter or sculptor choose a material or a color for an artwork? What are the criteria for choosing one material over another, one color over another? Rahm argues that physical properties such as effusivity, emissivity, conductivity, and reflectivity are more influential than ever as part of this decision process—a development that has inspired Rahm to coin the term Anthropocene Style, a new Decorative style specific to our aesthetic and environmental era.

Philippe Rahm is a Swiss architect and the founder and principal of Philippe Rahm architectes, based in Paris, France. His work, which extends the field of architecture from the physiological to the meteorological, has received an international audience in the context of sustainability. In Venice, Rahm represented Switzerland at the 8th Architecture Biennale (2002) and was included in Aaron Betsky's exhibition Out There: Architecture Beyond Building (2008). He has participated in a number of exhibitions worldwide including Centre Pompidou, Paris; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal; Manifesta 7; and more. He has taught and lectured widely, including the AA School in London, Mendrisio Academy of Architecture in Switzerland, School of Architecture of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Cooper Union, UCLA, and more. His recent work includes the new 70-hectare Taichung Gateway Park in Taiwan, set to open in August 2018. Monographic books include Physiological Architecture published by Birkhaüser in 2002, Distortions published by HYX in 2005, Environ(ne)ment: Approaches for Tomorrow published by Skira in 2006, Architecture Météorologique published by Archibooks in 2009, and Constructed Atmospheres published by Postmedia in 2014.

MFA Exhibition
Main Gallery and Gray Box Gallery, Fort Mason: May 11–17, 2018
Opening Reception: Friday, May 11, 6–9pm

This spring, as a culminating event of its inaugural year at Fort Mason, SFAI gives the public a chance to discover the next Annie Leibovitz or Kehinde Wiley at its annual graduate exhibition. In a week-long pop-up exhibition, more than 50 MFA artists transform the Fort Mason campus into a dynamic, large-scale gallery of contemporary installations, painting, sound, video, sculpture, photography, printmaking, performance, and more.

Martin Machado: Fluid State
Main Gallery, Fort Mason: May 30–August 19, 2018
Opening Reception: Friday, June 8, 6–9pm

Martin Machado is a visual artist and alumnus of San Francisco Art Institute who has travelled the world on international commercial vessels as a merchant mariner. His work takes the form of drawings, paintings, and photographs that offer a window into this often-overlooked system of global commerce that underpins modern life. Cumulatively, the works in this exhibition illustrate Machado’s time at sea and his deep engagement with the people, places, and historical and cultural complexities of maritime exploration and trade. The exhibition’s title, Fluid State, alludes to the state of flux that defines both a life at sea and the shifting tides of global capitalism.

In the work on view in SFAI—Fort Mason’s Main Gallery, containers from commercial ships have escaped their regimented place in the global supply chain, as with the two sculptures Flotsam and Jetsam, which seem to sink into the gallery floor. Elsewhere, a selection of two-dimensional works appropriates and recontextualizes 18th-century images from the history of maritime exploration, which consistently highlighted the drama and heroism of early explorers as well as the otherness of the people encountered. Machado’s work resists this one-sided, colonialist viewpoint espoused by early explorers, illustrating instead the overlapping narratives and conflicting interests that define a contemporary experience of the world’s oceans. In many of these drawings, the containers are repurposed as a stage for historical representation and reenactment, reminding us that history is not a final statement, but a subjective and contested narrative.

Martin Machado is a visual artist based out of San Francisco, CA. His artwork is partially influenced by his experience with maritime labor, spending portions of his year working on international containerships and commercial fishing vessels. These voyages and the crew he works with have become intertwined with the narrative of his artworks.

Machado has exhibited internationally and select exhibitions include Festival Teatro Container, Valparaiso, Chile; Italian American Museum, San Francisco; The Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, Santa Cruz, CA; Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA; and Museo Diego Rivera Anahuacalli, Mexico City, Mexico. His work has been featured in The New York Times MagazineJuxtapoz, and New American Paintings. Machado earned his MFA from San Francisco Art Institute in 2007.

Will Brown: Ether
Walter and McBean Galleries, Chestnut Street: August 2–September 29, 2018
Opening Reception: Thursday, August 2, 6–9pm

Will Brown is para-curatorial experiment whose main objective is to manipulate the structures of exhibition-making as a critical practice. Will Brown recently mounted a solo MATRIX exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive and authored Bruce Conner: Brass Handles, published by J&L Books. Will Brown has realized projects with KADIST, Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, di Rosa, and the Ulrich Museum of Art, and related press has appeared in the New York Times, Frieze, KQED, and Artforum. Will Brown received a Creative Work Fund Grant in 2015, Alternative Exposure Award from Southern Exposure in 2012, and in 2013 was an artist-in-residence at Headlands Center for the Arts in Marin, California.

XL Catlin Prize Exhibition
Main Gallery, Fort Mason: August 22–October 7, 2018
Opening Reception: Friday, August 31, 6–9pm

SFAI is working with the New York Academy of Art to launch the XL Catlin Art Prize, a new juried art contest and traveling exhibition. Building on a 10-year legacy of the Catlin Art Prize in the UK, the XL Catlin Art Prize US will be an exhibition of figurative work (painting or drawing) by undergraduate or graduate art students enrolled in US art programs, with an exhibition jury featuring curators from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Museum of Modern Art and the prizes juried by acclaimed artists Eric Fischl, Nicole Eisenman, and Amy Sherald. The contest is sponsored by XL Catlin, a major art insurer, and the exhibit will tour New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. SFAI will exhibit the work of forty finalist artists in advance of the prize ceremony to take place in New York.

China Academy of Art Exchange Exhibition
Chestnut and Fort Mason campuses: November 17–December 16, 2018

In 1984, SFAI professor Fred Martin took a group of students and faculty to China Academy of Art, making SFAI the first art school in the western world to develop a formal relationship with a Chinese university following the Cultural Revolution. On the occasion of CAA’s 90th Anniversary, SFAI continues this historic partnership with a wide-ranging exhibition of CAA-associated artists working across traditional forms such as painting as well as digital and new media. In 2019, SFAI will send works of its artists to CAA for a corresponding exhibition in China.


About San Francisco Art Institute

Founded in 1871, SFAI is one of the country's oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher education in the practice and study of contemporary art. As a diverse community of working artists and scholars, SFAI provides students with a rigorous education in the arts and preparation for a life in the arts through an immersive studio environment, an integrated liberal arts and art history curriculum, and critical engagement with the world. Committed to educating artists who will shape the future of art, culture, and society, SFAI fosters creativity and original thinking in an open, experimental, and interdisciplinary context.


General Information

San Francisco Art Institute—Chestnut Street’s Walter and McBean Galleries are open to the public Tuesday 11am–7pm and Wednesday–Saturday 11am–6pm and are located at 800 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, CA.

San Francisco Art Institute—Fort Mason’s galleries are open to the public Wednesday–Saturday 12–8pm and Sunday 11am–5pm and are located on Pier 2 within Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, 2 Marina Blvd., San Francisco, CA. 

Galleries are free to the public.