San Francisco gets its own contemporary art institute

Several cities from Philadelphia to Los Angeles have museums called Institutes of Contemporary Art, or ICAs, which are known to be exper...


Several cities from Philadelphia to Los Angeles have museums called Institutes of Contemporary Art, or ICAs, which are known to be experimental and nimble and not have permanent collections. Now San Francisco has one.

Ali Gass, former director of ICA San Jose and the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art, has raised $ 2.5 million to launch a new institution called the San Francisco Institute of Contemporary Art. It will be located in the Dogpatch district of the city, which is already a cultural destination with many studios and galleries.

The plan is to support and showcase emerging artists in the Bay Area “who are poised to grab national and international attention,” Gass said, as well as exhibition projects from more established artists, with a breakdown of ‘about 50-50. Gass, who will be its director, explained that social justice is part of the museum’s DNA, as it grew out of racial and social calculations over the past 18 months.

“Starting an institution from scratch allows us to think deeply about contemporary art as a navigational tool for local and global issues,” she said, citing the extreme wealth disparity in San Francisco. as an example of a problem artists could explore.

The attention to economic justice is also one of the reasons why Gass prefers the model without collection. “Collections are extremely expensive to display and keep,” she said. “One of the principles of ICA SF is to address issues of pay equity for artists and staff. Instead of an arms race to collect, we pledge to pay artists and museum workers above average wages for our region.

Art collectors Andy and Deborah Rappaport, who founded the Minnesota Street Project gallery complex at Dogpatch, are ICA SF’s main funders and most closely involved. In addition to donating a million dollars, they signed a 15-year lease through the Minnesota Street Project Foundation for the museum building: an 11,000 square foot space that was once a children’s gymnasium.

Andy Rappaport is a Silicon Valley venture capitalist. Other early donors also have serious tech credentials, including Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger and his wife, Kaitlyn Trigger; Reach Capital’s partner Wayee Chu and her husband, Ethan Beard; and Kindred Ventures partner Kanyi Maqubela and his wife, Martha Muña. (A sign that this ICA is already operating differently from the city’s major museums? It has opened an account with the Giving Block for supporters who wish to donate bitcoin or other cryptocurrency.)

The museum plans to open to the public, free of charge, by fall 2022, with a preview of the space in January at the FOG Design + Art Fair.

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Newsrust - US Top News: San Francisco gets its own contemporary art institute
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