San Francisco gave rise to the summer of love, which could be any summer in America’s LGBT capital, but the City by the Bay is also a great place to enjoy a summer of culture. Here’s a look at some of the art, theater, and music events happening in S.F. now and over the next few months.
De Young Museum
In the coming week, you’ll have your last chance to see Johannes Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring at the De Young Museum in beautiful Golden Gate Park. Making its first U.S. appearance in nearly 20 years, it’s one of about 35 Dutch Golden Age masterworks on loan from the collection of the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis in the Hague while the Mauritshuis undergoes renovation. Also in the exhibit are paintings by other 17th-century notables including Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Carel Fabritius, and Rachel Ruysch, one of the few female painters of the era. The show is at the De Young through June 2; if you can’t make it to San Francisco, however, it will be at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta from June 23-September 29 and at the Frick Collection in New York City October 22-January 19. If you do get to the De Young, enjoy the concurrent, related exhibit “Rembrandt’s Century,” a selection of works on paper by Rembrandt and others, and check out the museum’s excellent permanent collection, representing a diverse group of artists — Mary Cassatt, Diego Rivera, Thomas Hart Benton, John Singleton Copley, among others. And there are more special exhibitions coming up later in the summer.
Legion of Honor
The De Young’s sister museum, the Legion of Honor (their umbrella organization is the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco), holds a special place in the hearts of cinephiles: In Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo,it’s where Kim Novak, as Madeleine, stared transfixed at the portrait of Carlotta Valdes. You won’t find the portrait there, as it was a prop created for the film, but most of the museum scenes were actually shot at the Legion, and some pieces of art seen in the movie are still there, including Rodin’s bronzes The Thinker and The Age of Bronze, and Nicholas de Largilliere’s painting Portrait of a Gentleman. So find a spot on a bench and do your very best impression of Kim in a trance as you take in these and other noteworthy works; the Legion’s permanent collection includes art by Seurat, Monet, Gainsborough, and more. The Legion also has a good deal of ancient art, and much of it has been gathered into “Gifts From the Gods: Art and the Olympic Ideal,” a special exhibit that will be up until June 23. Those who appreciate the male form in athletic poses will undoubtedly enjoy this show; besides ancient artifacts, it has modern pieces inspired by them — such as Diane Arbus photographs of bodybuilders. And if it’s natural beauty you’re after, the museum’s grounds offer a breathtaking ocean view, and in good weather you can sit outside while you have a snack or meal from the café.
Walt Disney Family Museum
Yes, there’s a museum devoted to Disney in San Francisco, not Los Angeles (or Florida) — it was founded by Walt’s daughter Diane Disney-Miller, a longtime Bay Area philanthropist, and her son Walter E.D. Miller. The museum has extensive permanent exhibits on how Walt Disney built his entertainment empire, rising from humble beginnings in the Midwest. Many LGBT visitors will come for that alone, out of love for all things Disney, but this summer there’s also a special show spotlighting the great gay author-illustrator Maurice Sendak. “Maurice Sendak: 50 Years, 50 Works, 50 Reasons” celebrates the 50th anniversary of Where the Wild Things Areby exhibiting 50 original artworks created for the book, along with 50 statements from a variety of celebrities on what Sendak’s work means to them. Among the contributors are President Obama, Tony Kushner, Stephen Colbert, Michael Bloomberg, and Tom Hanks. It’s appropriate for Sendak to be feted at this museum, as he was inspired to become an illustrator after seeing the Disney film Fantasia in his youth, and he later became a collector of Mickey Mouse and other Disney memorabilia. The Sendak show opened in May and runs through July 7. In another special exhibit, “Camille Rose Garcia: Down the Rabbit Hole,” on view now through November 3, 40 paintings by Garcia offer a goth-style interpretation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.Joining them are seven paintings that Mary Blair, an innovative modern artist and one of the few women working in animation at the time, created as concept art for Disney’s 1951 film of the Alice story.
Asian Art Museum
This museum has one of the most comprehensive collections of Asian art in the world, encompassing 18,000 paintings, sculptures, textiles, furniture, porcelains, and other pieces, representing 6,000 years of history and diverse cultures from the Middle East to the Pacific Rim. Adding to the museum’s attractions beginning this summer will be “Proximities,” a three-part exhibition of new and recent works by Bay Area artists inspired by the vast continent. It’s curated by Glen Helfand, an educator and art critic who has written for The Advocate, among many publications. “Proximities 1: What Time Is It There?” deals with landscapes; it opened in May and continues through July 21. “Proximities 2: Knowing Me, Knowing You,” focusing on family, community, and ethnicity, runs October 11-December 8. “Proximities 3: Import/Export,” on trade and commerce, will be on view December 20-February 16.