What are words worth? (June 16 – September 2, 2023). Photo by Henrik Kam.


Farewell from McEvoy Arts

Dear friends and fans of McEvoy Arts,

On September 2, McEvoy Arts permanently closed to the public. While news of any institution’s closure may be difficult, I take pride in our accomplishments as I write this last message to you and the people who made this almost six-year experience exceptional.

McEvoy Foundation for the Arts was established on October 28, 2017 by Nion McEvoy to bring the beauty and brilliance of the McEvoy Family Collection into the public sphere. I remain honored that to be hired as the founding director. My time here has been rewarding in so many ways.  

Since opening, we’ve presented nearly 100 exhibitions, film programs, readings, performances, and events, all built from the themes and ideas in the McEvoy Family Collection. These programs were made available free or cheap to everyone.

While all the exhibitions embraced powerful themes found in the collection, a few are notable for the strong interest they produced, beginning with la mère la mer (2017-18), a whimsical survey that accentuated connections across the artworks about mothers and the sea. Others include Isaac Julien’s Lessons of the Hour (2020-21), a powerful multimedia exhibition on the life of Frederick Douglass; Orlando (2020), an exhibition of photographs curated by actress Tilda Swinton that explored themes of identity central to Virginia Woolf’s 1928 novel of the same name; and Ragnar Kjartansson: Scenes from Western Culture (2018), a multiscreen video exhibition from the collection, to which was added a significant painting by French Rococo painter Jean-Antoine Watteau, The Fortune Teller (c. 1710), made possible through a loan from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

We commissioned dozens of artists and curators and partnered with too many organizations to name to produce new artworks, exhibitions, and events. The projects we made together shared new perspectives and amplified the collection’s themes.

Even though the gallery is no longer open at 1150 25th Street in San Francisco, there are several exemplary projects in the world that you can still enjoy.

  • SOUNDWALK, Ellen Reid’s immersive, GPS-enabled public artwork that uses music to illuminate the natural environment continues in Golden Gate Park through June 2024. Featuring performances by Kronos Quartet and others, the quiet beauty of this free and accessible program, commissioned in partnership with the Kronos Festival for the 2021 exhibition Next to You, is not to be missed.
  • McEvoy Arts final exhibition, What are words worth?, wraps with essays by noted Bay Area writers Dodie Bellamy and Connie Zheng that are now available at The Back Room at Small Press Traffic. We are proud to add these co-commissioned pieces to our roster of collaborative partnerships. Click here to read these authors’ personal reflections on language, writing, and place.
  • Memories to Light, another project made for Next to You, is a film collage of Asian American home movies featuring a commissioned score by composers and performers Danny Clay and Theresa Wong. The film is directed by Chet Canlas and co-produced with the Center for Asian American Media. On Thursday, September 28, 2023, FOR-SITE Foundation presents a screening of the film with a live performance of the soundtrack at Fort Point. Find more information and reserve free tickets by clicking here.

You can find all our exhibitions and events at mcevoyarts.org. Sometime later this fall, the website will shut-down and a version of it will be saved on the Internet Archive. Please visit us there often.

So while we have ceased operations, we did what we set out to do—to bring the arts and humanities to the people. The only thing we asked of you is to visit, spend some time with the art, and walk away empowered to see and feel the world more fully.

Of course, we could not have done this work alone. There are many people and businesses that deserve our praise and gratitude for their contributions. The inspired and dedicated talents of McEvoy Arts’ small and mighty staff including Jen Loman, Amanda Nudelman, Dylan Sherman, and others, past and current, were instrumental to our success. Please watch for them in the world!

McEvoy Arts’ board of directors—Michael Carabetta, Jason Fish, Jennifer Gonzalez, and Susan Swig—were the backbone of the organization, providing wisdom, guidance, and advocacy to ensure growth and visibility.

I’d like to share a special appreciation for Amber Goldstein and Kevin Moore, talented stewards of the McEvoy Family Collection, for working purposefully with us to bring each exhibition alive in the gallery. Thanks to their ongoing efforts on behalf of the collection as it continues to move and live in the world.

As a small organization, we decided early on to work closely with several exceptionally skilled and creative vendors to build our program. These acknowledgements would not be complete without a shout-out to photographers Henrik Kam and Pat Mazzera, MacFadden & Thorpe Design, City Picture Frame, Martin Sign Company, publicist Wendy Norris, bookkeeper/accountant Susan Hanley, and Minnesota Street Project and its Art Services group for the years of commitment and service to McEvoy Arts.

Finally, and far from least, I add a warm and heartfelt thank you to founder Nion McEvoy, Leslie Berriman, and the entire McEvoy family for their generosity and commitment to the arts and humanities, expressed through McEvoy Arts and in so many other cultural endeavors.

In founding McEvoy Arts, Nion brought a unique vision, drive, and support to make the family collection accessible to everyone. As we move into the future, I’d like to suggest that we all carry his vision of arts access forward in our lives. I know I will. McEvoy Arts is a uniquely memorable and creative opus because of Nion and the McEvoy family.


Susan Miller
McEvoy Arts Executive Director
September 2023