FALL ARTS If advance schedules and press releases are any indication, this fall we’ll see a resurgence of nuanced, informed abstract painting in galleries around the Bay Area. Thoughtful formalist and abstract painting is always percolating somewhere beneath the flashier strata of the art world, and I’m heartened to see the number of galleries prepping shows that allow it some spotlight.
Another welcome development is the migration of four solid programs from downtown locations to within a block of each other in Potrero. Epicenter shift? Maybe not. But the Brian Gross, Catharine Clark, Jack Fischer, and George Lawson galleries — along with Hosfelt gallery — definitely give you a reason to add Potrero to your gallery route.
Christopher Burch, Aggregate Space
Christopher Burch offers darkly skewed takes on Song of the South allegories. His installation puts familiar and invented characters into terse psychological situations, recasting and heightening blues music lyrics in ways familiar to fans of Kara Walker. Through Sept. 21. 801 West Grand, Oakl; www.aggregatespace.com.
Alice Cattaneo, Romer Young
The Milanese sculptor starts with fairly modest materials — cardboard, felt, wire — to make precise, fragile assemblages in precise, contradictory ways that recall both Richard Tuttle and Fred Sandback. She’ll be in residency at Romer Young during September creating site-specific work for the Potrero space. Sept. 5—30, 1240 22nd St, SF; www.romeryounggallery.com.
Sandy Kim, Ever Gold
Sandy Kim’s hot, post-Vice photographs mine the now-familiar tropes of confessional, in-your-face documentary much better than most. Her flashy work communicates an immediacy and offhand confidence along with great attention to color and texture. Sept. 5—Oct. 5, 441 O’Farrell, SF; www.evergoldgallery.com.
Linda Geary, Steven Wolf Fine Arts
Linda Geary’s intuitive formalist paintings strike an assured balance of rigor and looseness, clarity and experimentation. Accompanying her paintings will be the group show “Hotbox Forever,” which she curated to include abstract painters Wendy White, Lecia Del-Rios, Jeffrey Gibson, and Maria Weatherford. Sept. 7—Oct. 19, 2747 19th St, Ste A, SF; www.stevenwolffinearts.com.
Erin Lawlor, George Lawson (Potrero gallery)
Parisian Erin Lawlor’s lush, nuanced abstract oil paintings evoke both Baroque dynamism and a cool, contemporary repose, all within a focused manner of execution and fairly subdued color palette. This show inaugurates George Lawson’s expansion into a second SF gallery in Potrero, a very welcome development for fans of abstract painting, as Lawson has a honed eye and a pretty deep stable. Sept. 7—Oct. 5, 315 Potrero, SF; www.georgelawsongallery.com.
Ward Schumaker, Jack Fischer
Ward Schumaker makes loose, gestural, mixed-media paintings, sculpture, and collage that tend to mix formal and narrative concerns by way of text, brushwork, and color field painting. His moody, ruminative compositions display a sure hand and questioning but unfussy approach. Sept. 7—Oct. 12, 311 Potrero, SF; www.jackfischergallery.com.
2012 SECA Art Award: Zarouhie Abdalian, Josh Faught, Jonn Herschend, David Wilson
With its building under construction, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is setting up four different site-specific projects to highlight its 2012 SECA Art Award winners, bestowed biennially on the Bay Area’s breakout artists. Zarouhie Abdalian will install programmed bells to ring in front of City Hall in Oakland; Josh Faught will create new woven sculptures for the Neptune Society Columbarium; David Wilson will create multidimensional experiences along walking routes at six outdoor locations; and Jonn Herschend will premiere a short film on the museum’s rooftop taking the building’s closure as a point of departure. Sept. 14—Nov. 17, various locations; www.sfmoma.org.
Edward Burtynsky, Rena Bransten
Burtynsky is famous for his arresting landscape photography which, like Richard Misrach, interrogates the way humans have irrevocably interrupted natural processes. His Rena Bransten show will feature aerials and large format shots related to water consumption and control in nine countries. Oct. 24—Dec. 14, 77 Geary, SF; www.renabranstengallery.com.
“David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition,” de Young Museum
Hockney is one of those artists that on paper ought to be talked about more: prolific, likable, a pioneer in his day, author of a mildly controversial art history book, and all that. His large-scale landscapes from the last decade get the retrospective treatment here, hopefully reminding us why at one point he was one of the world’s most famous living artists. Oct. 26—Jan. 20, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr., SF; deyoung.famsf.org.
Chris Fraser, Highlight
Chris Fraser uses splintered and filtered beams of light in installations that recast space in terms of mathematical rigor, reworked scale, and pregnant narrative. Nov. 28—Jan. 18, 17 Kearny, SF; www.highlightgallery.com.