All the free spaces at SFMOMA

in Art, contemporary art, Entertainment, Museums, Recreation

I enter SFMOMA on Third Street, where the 1995 Mario Botta Building stands, and climb the stairs in search of the museum’s free Floor 2 galleries. My aim: to see as much of the museum as possible without paying a dime except, perhaps, for some food. Steps was on my mind that is, the museum café located off of Howard Street that’s freely accessible by anyone, with or without a ticket. But first, I wanted to experience some ART.


The Floor 2 galleries, unlike Steps, did require a ticket, free though it was through December 22nd of 2023. I was ready, and flashed my QR code to gain access.  I first checked out Sitting On Chrome: Mario Ayala, rafa esparza, and Guadalupe Rosales. It explores the lowrider culture of L.A. with photographs, sculptures, paintings, video, a sound installation, and more. It was so liberating to feel the theme of self-authorship rippling from all of the pieces in the exhibition. In addition to charging up my spirit with  moxie, I daresay it also shifted my appetite into gear.


Bagel Break!


Tummy a-grumblin’, I cruised over to Steps to see what they had a-cookin’. I saw bagels and found myself immediately ordering one (with extra cream cheese spread). As a canny afterthought, I went for a beverage, too: and an iced chai tea latte to round it all out.


Within mere minutes, my order was ready, and I dug right in. The bagel was fresh and tasty and the latte was perfect: satisfyingly spicy and creamy. Not only was the drink yummy to the max, it delivered a swift kick (in the very best way) to my afternoon. And the ambience was superb. The cafe was well-lit and had the respectful focus of an exciting library.


Back in the Game


Needless to say, I was fired up when I returned to the galleries to see Open Ended: SFMOMA’s Collection, 1900 to Now. Which was perfectly in order, given the seemingly gargantuan proportions of the collection. The vast amount of art in this exhibition  is organized into chapters that cast insightful light on the individual pieces. The chapters include philosophical underpinnings, like abstraction and surrealism, geographic locations, and relationships, to name but a few. There is so much to see—it’s a good thing I carbed up in the café before I approached. I saw some Thiebauds, a Warhol, some Lichtensteins, an O’Keefe, and even a Dalí. But my favorite works, perhaps, were from artists I hadn’t yet encountered. 


This dreamlike piece, Self-Portrait by Dorothea Tanning  (1944) was most intriguing to me. It was painted a year after the artist first visited Sedona, Arizona. But the effect was profound. She recounted, “One year was enough to sear it on the lens of memory…so that, in the studio alone with my dreams I would record it like a diary entry, just like that.”  It hung in a room with many other Surreal paintings, including one from Salvador Dalí, who is perhaps the most well-recognized of the Surrealist painters.


SFMOMA  is open from Friday to Tuesday, 10:00 am ‘til 5:00 pm, Thursdays from 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm, and is closed on Wednesdays. Tickets may be reserved/purchased hereSitting On Chrome ends February 19, 2024, and Open Ended is an ongoing installation.