For those of us who have spent hours on the couch with CNN, Netflix and takeout, it’s time to stretch limbs and massage the gray matter.  A visit to the de Young Open at the de Young Museum will inspire, delight and provoke in a one-stop shopping spree that will steady those curled up sea-legs while it benefits artists who have been creating while we’ve been staring at a variety of screens. The folks at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco faced a challenge. How to best encourage and support the artists who are the lifeblood of a community, how to utilize the venerable buildings that have space to display the work being made these past months? The result is a marshalling of resources, and the de Young would open wide.

The call went out to all nine counties that comprise the San Francisco Bay Area: Submit work for the opportunity to see it displayed at the de Young’s Herbst Exhibition Galleries, to be  offered to the buying public with 100% of profits going directly to the artists. A panel of Fine Arts curators, along with local artists Enrique Chagoya, Mildred Howard and Hung Liu, selected from among 6188 submissions, judged them solely on merit and selected 762 pieces, including film and video pieces which are being shown in the adjacent Media Room. 

Paintings are hung salon style, each high wide wall composed thematically, and capacity restrictions result in plenty of space and time to absorb the art buffet, yet fully explore a topic. The first gallery addresses social and political movements, ranging from global warming to LGBTQ rights, with a special emphasis on Black Lives Matter.  Portrayals of the pandemic follow, and both subjects explore emotions from rage to reconciliation.  The San Francisco Bay Area, Abstraction, the natural world and the human figure each have their space, so you can find a comfort or stretch out of your zone. 

We all feel on the edge, we all feel that we’re at a precipice.  It’s  revitalizing to know that artists are making work that can soothe or stimulate, and in the end, help us see through the fog.

The de Young Open shows in Golden Gate Park through January 3, 2021.