A trio of unusual exhibits 

Randy Shull's "Crossing Boundaries," now at the San Francisco Museum of Craft+Design, is a rich retrospective for an artist whose work ranges from bright, original furniture to small but powerful objects fashioned of wood and building material.

The son of a building contractor, Shull — whose pieces resemble folk art — has inspired his father to start creating art, rather late in life. "Crossing Boundaries" includes works by both men.

The North Carolina artist has exhibited all over the country, including the Bay Area, but this is the first time a whole show has been dedicated to his work. The retrospective is produced by Suzanne Baizerman, formerly Curator of Crafts and Decorative Arts at the Oakland Museum of California.

Prominent objects include "South Cabinet," a seven-foot-tall orange-colored object bearing the artist’s typical sanded paint layers and featuring hurricane-ravaged wood shreds.

Shull’s residency in the Dominican Republic is the source of "Cobalt Dream," a six-foot clock reminiscent of a yoga pose, and of a dining room suite, including colorful chairs with images of food carved on their backs.

At the hyperactive San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (with simultaneous shows of Frida Kahlo, the contemporary Chinese "Half-Life of a Dream" and others), "The Art of Lee Miller" is holding forth through Sept. 14.

The famed photographer (1907-1977) was the only female photojournalist allowed in World War II combat areas, and she was so avant-garde decades ago that her work still is unusual, even startling at times.

The large collection includes portraits of such celebrities as Charlie Chaplin and Pablo Picasso, pictures from the Egyptian desert, and harrowing images from the war. It also features a glamorous series for Vogue magazine.

The show, the first retrospective of her work, explores her transformation from model and muse — she was inspired by Man Ray — to serious artist in her own right.

Meanwhile, the Napa Valley Museum presents "The Art Books of Henri Matisse," a vibrantly colorful collection of illustrations and text by this great 20th-century artist.

Beginning in 1903, Matisse began experimenting with printmaking, and in the years until his death in 1954, he illustrated a dozen books, each issued in a limited edition. The Bank of America Art Collection, owner of these works, is making the Matisse prints available for the exhibit, running through Aug. 10, seen for the first time in the area.

Those who appreciate Matisse’s paper collages ("gouaches découpés"), such as the famed "Blue Nudes" series, may have a conflicting sense of familiarity and novelty when viewing these prints. They are "all Matisse" and yet different from his "painting with scissors" mode.

IF YOU GO

Randy Shull: Crossing Boundaries

Where: Museum of Craft + Design, 550 Sutter Street

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; until 7 p.m. Thursday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday; exhibit runs through Sept. 28

Tickets: $3 general; $2 seniors and students

Contact: (415) 773-0303 or www.sfmcd.org

The Art of Lee Miller

Where: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third Street

When: 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day except closed Wednesdays and open until 8:45 p.m. Thursdays; exhibit runs through Sept. 14

Tickets: $7 to $12.50; half-price Thursday evenings and free first Tuesday of the month

Contact: (415) 357-4000 or www.sfmoma.org

The Art Books of Henri Matisse

Where: Napa Valley Museum, 55 Presidents Circle, Yountville

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except closed Tuesday; exhibit runs through Aug. 10

Tickets: $4.50 general; $3.50 seniors and students; $2.50 ages 7 to 17

Contact: (707) 944-0500 or www.napavalleymuseum.org

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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