SFMOMA takes show on the road 

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s renovation overhaul has confused a few people, particularly tourists who didn’t get the memo that the building was closed.

But for the next two months, visitors to SFMOMA’s Third Street site will be greeted by a familiar, if not slightly curious, face in the form of artist David Wilson’s “Arrivals.”

Anchored authoritatively at 151 Third St. is what looks like a national or state park trailhead. The redwood bulletin board is the leaping point for “Arrivals,” Wilson’s six-part, multimedia, participatory installation series. It’s one of four off-site works commissioned by SFMOMA for the 2012 SECA Art Award. SECA stands for Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art; the biennial award was established in 1967.

Copies of Wilson’s charming, hand-drawn maps, reminiscent of old New Yorker cartoons, will be replaced every two weeks in the trailhead compartments on Third Street.

The free maps lead participants to Wilson’s installations; the first in the series is “Frog Woman Rock,” a 16-by-8-foot ink and pastel illustration nestled in a eucalyptus grove by the Presidio cemetery.

Each site in “Arrivals” is public; a soundtrack accompanies the artwork in each space.

Another SECA Award commission is Josh Faught’s “BE BOLD For What You Stand For, BE CAREFUL For What You Fall For,” an installation at the Neptune Society Columbarium in the Inner Richmond (the only place in city limits where ashes can be interred and displayed, and a popular resting place for the queer community).

Faught created three hand-dyed, hand-woven and crocheted knit works in muted, autumnal tones (inspired by William Morris’ all-natural palette) made with crimson juices from crushed cochineal bugs and plant-based indigo, walnut and weld dyes.

An artist who embraces kitsch, Faught found additional inspiration in the quirky, flamboyant and humorous memorials encased with urns in the Columbarium’s glass-cased niches. Besides the usual photographs, some contain favorite foodstuffs (Snickers, Chinese takeout boxes), clusters of wacky statues and figurines.

Faught’s textiles are similarly embellished, using rubber snacks, illustrated Hallmark cards, and homey slogan plaques found in tourist shops and roadside cafes.

The SECA Art Award’s East Bay component is Zarouhie Abdalian’s “Occasional Music,” a sound piece installed on the rooftops at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza.

Once a day through November 17, brass ship bells ring for several minutes in rhythmic patterns created by a randomizing programmer, adding an unexpected sonic ambiance to downtown Oakland. The bell ringing schedule is available on SFMOMA's website.

The SFMOMA website also has launched John Herschend’s short film “Stories from the Evacuation.” Blurring the lines of documentary and fiction, the piece appears to be a behind-the-scenes look at a museum packing up and locking its doors, which evolves into a tense narrative.


2012 SECA Art Award winners

Presented by S.F. Museum of Modern Art

When: Through Nov. 17

Admission: Free

Contact: www.sfmoma.org/secaaward

SECA artworks

“Arrivals” by David Wilson

Where: Maps at 151 Third St., S.F.

When: New released Sept. 23, Oct. 7, Oct. 28, Nov. 4 and Nov. 7

What: “BE BOLD For What You stand For, BE CAREFUL For What You Fall For” by Josh Faught

Where: Neptune Society Columbarium, 1 Loraine Court, S.F.

When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays

What: “Occasional Music” by Zarouhie Abdalian

Where: Frank Ogawa Plaza, 14th Street at Broadway, Oakland

When: Times vary

What: “Stories from the Evacuation” by John Herschend is online at www.sfmoma.org

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Lauren Gallagher

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