Autumn is a nice time to look at art. It’s quiet and contemplative, and we could all use a little time to ourselves between holidays — or maybe you’re desperate to entertain family. Whether you want to add a few stops to your itinerary for the upcoming free museum weekend or get a head start, here are four exhibitions to check out in The City right now.
The theme of the fifth anniversary exhibition at McEvoy Foundation for the Arts — artists working with color — is far from revolutionary, but it’s a forgivably broad excuse to include as many knockouts as possible. Iconic selections from the McEvoy Family Collection, including Wayne Thiebaud and William Eggleston, mingle with four newly commissioned works by Bay Area artists Sadie Barnett, Angela Hennessy, Clare Rojas and Zio Ziegler. Entries from both the old and new vanguards offer wide interpretations of the concept of color, from the aesthetic concerns of Donald Judd’s geometric sculptures or Rojas’s color field portraits, to social issues of race in Gordon Parks’s and Barnett’s documentary photographs. And both approaches offer visitors new ways of seeing. McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, 1150 25th St. Building B, S.F. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday–Saturday, Free.
Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate
This double feature smorgasbord co-presented at Casemore Gallery and Rena Bransten Gallery, both housed inside Minnesota Street Project in the Dogpatch, offers more art than some museums do in their entirety. Showcasing work from both galleries’ stables as well as private collections, the exhibition, whose title is a callback to a phrase printed on the IBM punchcard of yesteryear, brings together over 20 artists pushing boundaries with analog techniques across photography, painting, sculpture and video. Highlights include one of David Hockney’s explosive Cubist photo collages, a pair of Raymond Saunders’ sculptural paintings on wooden doors and Daisuke Yokota’s photographic prints of chemically manipulated film. There’s a wise irreverence to the whole affair, reminding us that the rules of art need not be taken too seriously and that even rigorous experimentation can be a playful pursuit. Casemore Gallery and Rena Bransten Gallery at Minnesota Street Project, 1275 Minnesota St., S.F. 12-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, Free.
Mona Kuhn: Timeless
Mona Kuhn’s photographs, blurry and bright, feel like calling cards for a cult of beauty. Coinciding with the publication of her retrospective monograph, “Works” (Thames & Hudson, 2021), this exhibition presents a modest sampling from six series spanning the artist’s nearly three-decade career. Each series offers variations on Kuhn’s evergreen themes and techniques — soft focus, muted tones and nudes — which she developed shooting the residents of a French naturist colony and has expanded to include nature and architecture. The pictures in “Timeless” live up to the exhibition’s title: a modern take on classical principles of aesthetics. EUQINOM Gallery, 1295 Alabama St., 12-5 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, Free.
Nudes, skulls and botanical still lifes are about as painterly as art gets, but subject matter isn’t the only way Richard Learoyd blurs the line between painting and photography. For starters, he makes his pictures using a giant camera obscura, a room-sized camera originally utilized by ancient and classical painters and draftsmen to trace projections. Now, in his fifth solo show at Fraenkel Gallery, he’s taken to drawing on his photographs with string, whether incorporating string into the still lifes or exposing it on top of the photographic paper itself. The breathtaking triptych “Drawing with straight lines,” 2021, which shows an elephant skull at different angles, includes both varieties of string to the effect of an overlaid scientific sketch, exemplifying how Learoyd’s latest technique pushes his pictures past pure representation. Fraenkel Gallery, 49 Geary St., S.F. 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Free.
Ragnar Kjartansson: The Visitors
When Ragnar Kjartansson’s “The Visitors” first showed at SFMOMA in 2017, I went every weekend of its six-month engagement and never failed to weep. Now, the Icelandic artist’s hour-long, nine-screen video installation is back. In the achingly simple piece, a band performs a folk ballad penned by Kjartansson’s ex-wife, each musician filmed separately in a different room of a rustic Hudson Valley house. “The Visitors” captures the ineffable power of music to unify people, through a feeling of yearning connection, as the isolated instrumentalists harmonize. Even Kjartansson, who can be seen on screen, strumming his guitar in the bathtub, is moved to tears. SFMOMA, 151 3rd St., 1–8 p.m. Thursday and 10 a,m.-5 p.m. Friday-Tuesday, Free-$30.