Monday, July 15, 2024

It’s Wednesday. The de Young museum is displaying hundreds of works by Bay Area artists through Jan. 7. Plus, we’ll be off the rest of the week for the Thanksgiving holiday.Over the weekend, I visited the spectacular de Young Open, a dizzying exhibition of Bay Area artists’ work at the de Young Museum, San Francisco’s flagship art museum in Golden Gate Park.

The 883 works in the exhibition were selected through an open submission process that invited artists living in any of nine Bay Area counties to submit paintings, sculptures, photography and more. The event, which the museum plans to hold every three years, follows a format more often seen at community centers, schools and smaller museums, as my colleague Jori Finkel reported.

“In the United States, no major museum other than the de Young does an open call on such a large scale, perhaps because it goes against the grain of how museum professionals these days are trained,” Jori wrote.

“It’s an experiment that changes the role of curators from rather controlling gatekeepers to highly democratic door openers,” she continued. “And that means that some of the work is horribly — or wonderfully, depending on your point of view — out of touch with curatorial and market trends.”

Read Jori’s article.

The current exhibit, which runs through Jan. 7, is the de Young Open’s second iteration. The first, in 2020, was held in part to help artists who were struggling financially during the pandemic. It was also a celebration of the museum’s 125th anniversary.

“It felt like we were doing something for the city and artists in that dark period, a real boost for the institution and a boost for the community,” the museum’s director, Thomas Campbell, told Jori.

This time around, artists submitted 7,766 works for consideration, and a group of de Young curators and local artists narrowed the choices down to 883. They are displayed in salon style, hanging nearly floor to ceiling in eight large galleries.

“One of the most distinguishing characteristics of the de Young Open is that it really takes the pulse of Bay Area artists in the moment,” Timothy Burgard, curator-in-charge of American art for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, told KQED. He said there were works addressing the Jan. 6 attack, the war in Ukraine, women’s rights, climate change and other themes.

And in a true sign of the times, there were 27 entries submitted that were generated by artificial intelligence. The judges, who were unaware of that, did not choose any of them for display.

“When you look at them, you can understand why — they look like Frankenstein monsters, cobbled together by sourcing imagery on the web,” Burgard said. But he predicted that they were just the beginning: “In three years, for the next triennial, 2026, there will not be 27 entires that are A.I.-generated. There will probably be hundreds, if not thousands.”

If you read one story today, make it this

Two years in the American West with the country’s elite firefighters.

Where we’re traveling

Today’s tip comes from Dick Sacco, who lives in San Clemente:

“Rockefeller Forest in Humboldt Redwoods State Park is one of a kind and that’s why my wife, Shirley, and I have biked it many times over the last 28 years. It’s like going back a thousand years in time!

With 10,000 acres of old-growth trees, Rockefeller is the largest single stand of coast redwoods on the planet, just waiting for you to bike up Mattole Road and enjoy their splendor. Can you imagine what it’s like to ride between trees that tower over you, many in the 350-foot range? There are no coffee shops or pizza places along the way. Just peace and tranquillity.

When you are done for the day, nearby Albee Creek and Burlington campgrounds provide real camping in a tent under the tall trees. Had not the founders of the Save the Redwoods League led the fight to save these magnificent giants, we would today be biking through a devastated stand of stumps.

Shirley feels that we should never forget the generosity of John D. Rockefeller Jr., who contributed so much to save these trees from the sawmill. Now it’s time for me to get on my bike and catch up to her as she sets a fast pace up the road through the forest!”

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

And before you go, some good news

Fans of Northgate Markets, the family-owned Southern California supermarket chain, got a treat last week in the form of a brand-new Mexican bazaar-style market in Costa Mesa.

The market, called Mercado González in honor of Don Miguel González and Doña Teresa Reynoso de González, the husband-wife duo who founded Northgate Markets in the 1980s, offers a vibrant cross-section of Mexican culture, including a wide range of foods, traditional pantry staples and artisan crafts, The Orange County Register reports.

Food stands serve up plates of slow-cooked pork, Sinaloa-style sushi and seven varieties of hot chocolate. Colorful murals created by Claudio Limón, an artist from Guadalajara, jump out from the walls, and live music completes the experience.

The emporium, on Harbor Boulevard, is open seven days a week, from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Thanks for reading. We’ll be back on Monday. Happy Thanksgiving. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.

Maia Coleman, Briana Scalia and Halina Bennet contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at

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