SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: The Fog is here with another hectic week full of art

January 9, 2020

Virtually every art gallery and museum in the Bay Area will pull out the stops during Fog Week, as many call the art fair period. Local museums often present special events pitched to people carrying VIP cards from one of the fairs. These cards are generally handed out to clients and potential clients by the galleries participating in the fairs, or by fair officials themselves.

Influential dealers and collectors come to town from elsewhere, while locals with a deep interest in contemporary art stay put and clear their schedules of conflicting obligations. As a result, many San Francisco galleries put on their most ambitious exhibitions of the year.

So, it won’t be hard to find good shows at the top galleries around the Bay Area next week. However, a few presentations are particularly notable for the rare opportunities they provide.

Gallery 181, the most luxurious by far, is a pop-up space that takes up half the 69th floor at 181 Fremont, a new office and residential tower in downtown San Francisco and the city’s second-tallest building. The gallery will exist in its current incarnation only until the building’s developer sells the apartment — or, shall we style it, “apartment,” as the unfurnished space makes a lovely high-end gallery, with soaring ceilings and a terrific mix of natural and artificial light.

The spectacular views across city and bay alone are worth the visit. Looking down on the frenetic construction proceeding below, considering the enormous wealth such development represents, one is filled with the kind of optimism that might allow one to fantasize investing in paintings priced from the five to mid-six figures.

Beginning Tuesday, Jan. 14, Gallery 181 will host a pop-up presentation from the prominent Los Angeles gallery Blum & Poe. The show will comprise a large number of post-World War II abstract works by Japanese and Korean artists, representing the Mono-ha group (Tokyo, 1968-72); Tokyo “New Wave Painting” (1980s-90s); and the Dansaekhwa (“monochrome painting”) movement in Seoul (1960s-80s). Generally open only by appointment, the gallery will hold public hours on Jan. 14 and 15.

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