Yerba Buena: The little museum that should 

Not exactly a poor cousin, but admittedly less well frequented than the big, rich, famous Museum of Modern Art directly across Third Street, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts offers intriguing exhibits in its three galleries.

The emphasis here is on the local scene, on minorities, on community-based work, emerging artists and a convergence of traditional art and pop culture. Against SFMOMA’s $34 million annual budget (and nearly $200 million net assets), Yerba Buena galleries make do with a portion of the center’s $7.2 million budget and a small staff, but with hundreds of volunteers helping out. Only 13 years old, Yerba Buena attracts about 200,000 visitors annually.

Two current exhibits close Sunday, so now is the time to see them.

(Courtesy photo) "Sensacional! Mexican Street Graphics" at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts includes vibrant, colorful images.

One is a big, colorful, highly unusual show, called "Sensacional! Mexican Street Graphics." You may get downright dizzy standing in the middle of this torrent of comic books, fliers, posters and signs from Mexico. The other, for a more specific taste, is called "Underplayed: A Mix-Tape of Music-Based Videos." A companion to "Sensacional!," it is an exploration of collaboration between visual artists and musicians producing album covers and concert posters.

On the second floor, open through April 1, is a rich, little-known world of emerging art from across the Bay. "Cultivating Creativity: In Residence at Kala" is as varied as the 25 artists it presents. It encompasses installation, printmaking, digital media, photography and more. Kala Art Institute, founded in 1974 by Archana Horsting and Yuzo Nakano, is in the old Heinz ketchup factory in Berkeley. Kala has provided residency programs and school outreach for the last 33 years, but this is probably the first time that it is represented in a comprehensive exhibit.

Upcoming exhibits include "The Black Factory: Performances and Recent Work by William Pope.L," from March 17 through July 8. A visual and performance artist, Pope.L has staged many of his specialty crawls as part of his eRacism project. His longest project to date is a 22-mile crawl, taking him from the Statue of Liberty through Manhattan, ending in the Bronx.

"R. Crumb’s Underground" is scheduled for the same dates, presenting an eclectic show of Crumb’s early solo work, collaborations and the world premiere of his latest "spool" drawings. Crumb is regarded as the founder of the underground comic scene.

From April 13 through July 8, Yerba Buena will feature "The Collective Foundation," an ad-hoc organization for finding new forms of support for artists.

Curator Joseph del Pesco and artist Scott Oliver are organizing the project.


Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Galleries

Where: 701 Mission St. (at Third Street), San Francisco

When: Noon to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, except until 8 p.m. Thursdays

Tickets: $4-$6 general; $2-$4 seniors and students; free first Tuesday of the month

Contact: (415) 978-2700 or

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Staff Report

Staff Report

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