X is for Xzibit

tbh it's actually about exhibits with an 'e'

Hey there, happy Wednesday!

I know many of you have caught on (even thought I haven’t explicitly spelled it out), but my weekly issue themes have been going, in order, through the letters of the alphabet. Two weeks ago was V, last week was W, this week is X. I’m taking some creative license with the letter X to bring you “X is for eXhibits” because I think it’s better than something I just don’t have pictures of like “X is for Xylophone” or something obscure like “X is for Xyphoid.”

One of my favorite things to do when traveling (or honestly even when home) is to check out museums and this week’s photos are all from various museums and art exhibits. Museums are not the only way to experience or appreciate art, but they’re a common one! Apparently, as of 2014, there are more museums in the US than Starbucks and McDonald’s locations combined (35,000 vs 11,000 + 14,000). These are a few fun exhibits I’ve spotted, that I happened to have pictures I like of.

July 2018. Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (San Diego, CA)

After Amanda and Raj’s wedding, I had a few more days in San Diego. Lindsay, Dan and I wandered around downtown San Diego and we came across the local Museum of Contemporary Art. They had this neat installation near their lobby that almost looks like it’s just exposed wiring for the building. Sometimes I really enjoy stuff that looks so casual it makes you ask “is it art?” and this was one of those times.

November 2018. National Portait Gallery (Washington, DC)

I was back visiting in DC and grabbed lunch with a friend at Zaytinya (one of my favorites) and we wandered across the street to the National Portrait Gallery (which also has one of my favorite atriums to just hang out in). There was an amazing exhibit called “Black Out: Silhouettes Then and Now” with a lot of installations by Kumi Yamashita that, when lit correctly cast very different shadows. It’s so well done, I can’t imagine how much trial and error went in to making and setting up something like this. I’m so glad I got the chance to see this exhibit.

November 2018. Renwick Gallery (Washington, DC)

The Renwick Gallery is literally around the corner from where I worked in DC, and as part of the Smithsonian, it’s 100% free to visit. Embarrassingly, it took me until almost the end of my year there before I actually visited it. When I visited back in November 2018, they had a Burning Man exhibit, with art from the annual festival in Black Rock Desert. I’ve never been to Burning Man, but have some passive knowledge about it because so many people in San Francisco go. It was a little funny to see Burning Man items presented in a somewhat sterile museum context compared to what I think actually happens at the festival. For example, there’s no way the extravagant costumes on mannequins would be that clean if they were being worn in the middle of the dusty desert. It’s a good reminder that museums are not the only place for art, and that museums project their own perspective on to the items they exhibit, which affects our experience and understanding of them.

This same exhibit also came to the Oakland Museum of California earlier this year, so I got to see it again. There was a lot of the same stuff, but arranged differently because the museums have different spaces. I think it’s one of the first time I’ve been able to see the same exhibit in two separate museums, it was kind of neat.

But about this photo: this particular sculpture was lit inside and turned slowly, casting an amazing shadow on the walls as it moved.

February 2019. Museum of Craft and Design (San Francisco, CA)

The Museum of Craft and Design is a hidden gem in the Dogpatch part of SF. It’s small for a museum, but always has great stuff. This exhibit from artist Al Farrow called Divine Ammunition was quite an experience. It’s really hard to capture it in pictures. It features many scale models meant to look like churches, temples and so on, but they’re all constructed from gun parts. Here, the tower of the church is flanked by gun barrels, topped with bullet casings. The exhibit was a statement on how religion is often used to motivate violent crimes, even though most religious texts are much more tame. I happened to make it to the exhibit on its last day, a friend posted about it on Instagram and I’m so glad I got to go. There was another person there with a Leica Q model also taking pictures, and we exchanged knowing looks because we saw each other’s matching cameras.

February 2020. Minnesota Street Project (San Francisco, CA)

The Minnesota Street Project is also tucked away in the Dogpatch. Many of the galleries inside are free and open to the public on Saturdays, so when I have time to schlep down there, it’s always worth it. I saw a post about this particular exhibit on Instagram, so I made a point to go check it out. The Bitforms gallery had a solo exhibition called Surge by Daniel Canogar, and it featured these LED sculptures. The lights form flowing, almost water-like streaks and occasionally feature text. They’re displayed in a dark room and it was really calming. Maybe one day I’ll have enough money to get some of these and install them in a spare room.

That’s what I've got for the week! Looking forward to going to museums as soon as they’re back open. See you next time!

XOXO,
Margs