The arts are back in full force this spring in San Francisco and the Bay Area.
From innovative art fairs to explosive dance performances to award-winning theatre, these evocative exhibitions and productions will help you remember the beauty of our collective humanity.
Art galleries, museums + fairs
(Eric Stracke, courtesy of San Francisco Art Market)
Aili Schmeltz and Katy Stone: Receiver
This exhibition at Johansson Projects in Oakland features the works of two artists inspired by the natural world, Aili Schmeltz and Katy Stone. The exhibition will combine sculptural elements, textile processes and paintings that link personal stories to shared landscapes, and explore our connections and place in nature.
// from March 4 to April 23; Johansson Projects, 2300 Telegraph Ave (Oakland), johanssonprojects.com
Pedagogy of Hope: Liberate, Reunify, Heal
This exhibition presented by Galería de la Raza at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts examines the work of the Caravan for the Children Campaign, an effort to demand the release and reunification of migrant children separated from their families at the US-Mexico border. Through photography and textiles, Pedagogy of Hope examines the group’s efforts and celebrates the humanity of happiness-seeking immigrants.
// from March 10 to May 29; YBCA, 701 Mission Street (SoMa), ybca.org
Alice Neel: People First
Radical social justice champion and painter Alice Neel is coming to the de Young this spring with a retrospective of her work, the first on the West Coast. Her paintings, drawings and watercolors depict the artist’s New York neighbors, political figures, activists and queer figures and celebrate the dignity of all individuals.
// From March 12 to July 10; de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr (Inner Sunset), deyoung.famsf.org
Rotationships: A Solo Exhibition by Augustine Kofie
At Augustine Kofie’s Rotations, the artist explores the idea of recovering the forgotten vestiges of the past. Using paper and pressboard from the 1950s through the 1980s, he showcases stripped-down art through a futuristic aesthetic.
// From March 12 to April 9; heron arts, 7 Heron Street (SoMa), heronarts.com
The Jim Henson: Unlimited Imagination Exhibition
Prepare for the Muppets and their forward-thinking creator, Jim Henson, to take over the Contemporary Jewish Museum. The exhibition highlights the puppeteer’s revolutionary television and film work and his social impact with 150 objects from the world of sesame street, fragglerock, The dark crystaland Labyrinth, as well as elements of his first experimental projects.
// March 31 to August 14; CJM, 736 Mission Street (SoMa), thecjm.org
San Francisco Art Market
After a two-year hiatus, the vast art market returns to SF’s Fort Mason Festival Pavilion for four days in April. The fair will feature contemporary and modern works from 85 galleries around the world – including Bay Area outfits like Chloe Gallery, Electric Works and Hashimoto Contemporary – and provide a vibrant atmosphere for collectors and art-lovers to come and enjoy. connect with dealers and the works they showcase. // April 21-24; Fort Mason Festival Pavilion, 2 Marina Blvd. (Marina), artmarketsf.com
Thank you to our Art Market partners.
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to Zellerbach Hall March 29-April 3.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
For the first time in two years, the exceptional Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley with five distinct programs. Each will feature new works by contemporary choreographers like Rennie Harris and current company leader Robert Battle, as well as classic Ailey performances such as 1960’s “Revelations.”
// from March 29 to April 3; 101 Zellerbach Hall #4800 (Berkeley), calperformances.org
The tip of my tongue
A company of fully multilingual, minority and immigrant dancers with the David Herrera Performance Company tackle this piece exploring communication as a tool for cultural visibility, perseverance and connection. Created by guest choreographer Antoine Hunter, the work uses real-life experience to challenge the idea that all Americans speak English. From March 31 to April 2 on the Steindler stage at Z Space.
// 450 Florida Street (Mission), zspace.org
Alameda Waterfront Park Launch Festival
Imagine a perfect day that begins with a ferry ride in San Francisco Bay. You’ll disembark and board a free trolley to Almanac Beer Co., where you can enjoy a misty IPA before walking to the new Alameda Waterfront Park. You’ll be treated to an afternoon filled with outdoor performances as the park opens, presented by the West End Arts District, Rhythmix Cultural Works and the City of Alameda. Look for Oakland-based Axis Dance Company, made up of dancers with and without disabilities; Crosspulse Percussion Ensemble, which is “part international drill crew and part polycultural rhythm section”, plus sound sculptures, theater, student ensembles and more, all with stunning city views . Plus, food trucks!
// 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., April 9; Alameda Waterfront Park, westendartsdistrict.org
Napantla Ballet valentina
This original performance by New York company Ballet Nepantla highlights the stories of women from Mexico’s revolutionary period. Combining traditional Mexican folk ballet with contemporary ballet, the work’s innovative choreography explores concepts of wealth and power, hope and despair, loss and triumph.
// 15 – 16 April; Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St (Mission), brava.org
Swan Lake made her American debut on the stage of San Francisco Ballet in 1940. This spring they are bringing back the timeless classic, this time choreographed by Helgi Tomasson. Let yourself be tempted by the breathtaking vision of this story of love and betrayal.
// from April 29 to May 8; War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave (Civic Center), sfballet.org
The Boyz II Men will take to the stage at Davies Hall on April 1 and 2. (Courtesy of San Francisco Symphony Orchestra)
Ninth Planet: Spirals and echoes
In its fifth “expedition”, the Ninth Planet ensemble travels through musical compositions that push the limits, including those of the 2019 and 2020 winners of the Suzanne Prize and Lee Ettelson. Unlike traditional symphonic or chamber music, these performances explore sound form and texture in sometimes jarring and distorted ways, and evoke in the listener everything from mystery to aggressiveness.
// March 19 at 7:30 p.m.; New Music Center, 55 Taylor St (Tenderloin), centerfornewmusic.com
Boyz II Men x SF Symphony
The soulful harmony of iconic ’90s trio Boyz II Men will rise and fall with the musicians of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra as they take the stage at Davies Symphony Hall. Together they will perform unforgettable renditions of some of the band’s most famous hits, including “End of the Road”, “I’ll Make Love to You” and “One Sweet Day”.
// April 1-2; Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Avenue (Civic Center), sfsymphony.org
SFJazz presents our very own Kronos Quartet in a three-night showcase inspired by the diversity of the Bay Area. With a different program each evening, the festival will feature Malian griot singer Hawa Kassé Mady Diabaté; trombone and tuba star Jacob Garchik’s version to music from Spielberg’s films; and the 13-movement piece “Cadenza on the Night Plain”.
// April 7-9; 201 Franklin Street (Civic Center), sfjazz.org
San Francisco Playhouse will premiere Water by the spoonful March 16.
Water by the spoonful
This intense drama by writer Quiara Alegría Hudes, author of the hit In the heights, explores the boundaries of family and community across physical and cyber space. The 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning play is based on Elliot, an Iraq War veteran who works at Subway while trying to become an actor, and offers a heartfelt meditation on redemption.
// From March 16 to April 23; San Francisco Playhouse, 450 Post St, FL 2M (Union Square), sfplayhouse.org
Fefu and his friends
Performed in the non-traditional Strand space of the American Conservatory Theatre, Fefu and his friends is an immersive tour through the lives of eight women who met in a New England country house in 1935. Set in four rooms in Fefu’s home, the play is an intimate, provocative, funny and burning on femininity by Cuba- American playwright María Irene Fornés. // March 24 to May 1; The Strand Theater, 1127 Market Street (SoMa), act-sf.org
The African-American Shakespeare Company has yet to release many details about its upcoming Shakespeare production. Richard II, but there’s one thing we can be certain of: the classic play, translated into modern verse by Naomi Iizuki, will speak to the black experience in a new and haunting way. An inside source tells us to expect a cool afrofuturistic vibe.
// April 16 to May 1; Navy Memorial Theater, 609 Sutter (Union Square), africanamericanshakes.org