Art is perennial in San Francisco

BY KAREN KENYON Modified: October 22, 2012 at 1:28 pm •  Published: October 22, 2012

The de Young, founded in 1895, is noted for its permanent collections.

Currently the de Young's collection exceeds 27,000 works of art and is renowned for its holdings in American art of all periods, the art of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, as well as costumes and textiles representing a wide variety of Eastern and Western traditions.

For a last peak experience I went to the top of the tower in the museum to experience a 360-degree view of the west of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge.

The next day I headed for Haight-Ashbury, where I found numerous murals. There are at least 21 in the district, many of them on Haight Street. Here also are fun vintage shops and colorful, artistic people, some who have been here for years, but mostly tourists and a younger crowd who want to plug into the liveliness of the area.

A new discovery for me, back closer to the Union Square area, was the Yerba Buena Arts Center in the Yerba Buena Gardens district. Here also is the Museum of Craft and Folk Art and the Contemporary Jewish Museum — enough to take up an entire day.

The last morning of my visit seemed perfect for a stop at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Just the design of the museum with its high bridge walkway is worth a visit. This time I wanted to focus on the paintings on view from the permanent collection of 20th-century art, including Henri Matisse, Mark Rothko and Frida Kahlo. It was a joy to visit the rooftop sculpture collection, as well, where I saw an Alexander Calder piece — "Big Crinkly" — Barnet Newman's "Zim Zum I" and my favorite, Louise Bougereau's "Spiders."

I had traveled from the Renaissance to the '60s to today's contemporary artists — and in only four San Francisco days. But a special treat that seemed to sum up San Francisco art for me was when I saw examples of "Yarnbombs" in front of SFMOMA (no connection to the museum except that the artistic knitters chose the site).

Here the parking meter poles are adorned with colorful decorative yarn coverings that give them a homey, homespun touch. It seems that yarnbombers, or guerilla knitters, have been doing their "soft graffiti" in several cities, such as Los Angeles, Oklahoma City and London. Part of the idea is to add to the urban landscape with art, color and whimsy by adding the yarn coverings to objects in the urban landscape.

WHEN YOU GO

I stayed at the conveniently located W Hotel: www.starwoodhotels.com/whotels/index.html

To visit the Haight-Ashbury: www.sfgate.com/neighborhoods/sf/haight/

Yerba Buena Arts Center: www.visityerbabuena.org

De Young Museum: www.deyoung.famsf.org

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: www.sfmoma.org

To see some of the "yarnbombers": www.blog.sfgate.com/inberkeley/2012/06/11/berkeley-library-welcomes-back-yarnbombers-work

Karen Kenyon is a freelance writer. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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