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To learn more about what to expect from this year’s fair, Whitewaller spoke with FOG’s new steering committee member, Sonya Yu, a creative director and startup advisor. She shares with us the galleries to keep an eye out for, the intersection of arts and tech in San Francisco, and the exhibitions around the city she’s looking forward to seeing.
WHITEWALLER: This is your first year on the steering committee of FOG Design + Art. Can you tell us how you got involved with the fair?
SONYA YU: I have been a longtime fan of FOG and attend the fair every year. Through my work at SFMOMA and in the San Francisco art world in general I’ve gotten to know the FOG steering committee and many of the dealers that exhibit at the fair quite well. I was asked to join the committee after last year’s fair, and was thrilled to be able to do so.
WW: This year, FOG will present a more tightly curated selection of galleries. How are you hoping that will impact the overall feel of the fair?
SY: One thing that visitors to FOG reiterate again and again is how much they love the boutique nature of the fair. Our intention with FOG is to let the fair grow and expand conceptually – to have ever more interesting booths and programs, and to always be working to increase the caliber of the FOG experience – but we want to keep it small in size. We find that the more intimate scale makes the experience much more engaging and enjoyable.
WW: How has FOG helped to create an anchor point for San Francisco Arts week?
SY: FOG has really helped to change the art world landscape in San Francisco. It has created an Art Week that has inspired other fairs, like Untitled, to come to San Francisco, and has encouraged local galleries and museums to put on some of their most stand-out shows of the years. We see a huge influx of collectors, curators, museum directors, and dealers from around the world timed to the fair, and it creates a wonderful buzz in the city. This type of momentum helps to raise up each arts organization in the city.
WW: Who are some of the FOG first timers we should keep an eye out for?
SY: We have a great list of new dealers this year: Gallery FUMI, Jenkins Johnson Gallery, Lehmann Maupin, Mercado Moderno, Nathalie Karg Gallery, and Tina Kim Gallery. They all promise to be must-see exhibitions at the fair.
WW: Can you tell us about your own interest in art and design?
SY: I see art and design as a foundational, integral way to interact and view the world. Art and design course through nearly everything we touch and see, from nature to computer code to abstract conceptual art. Through the lens of art and design, I can interact on a more elemental level, bringing about a sense of presence and appreciation for the thoughtful and often deeply personal approach to actuating an idea.
WW: Outside of the fairs, what are you looking forward to seeing around San Francisco this month?
SY: There is so much to see during Art Week in San Francisco! A few shows I’m particularly excited about are “Long Story Short” at Fraenkel Gallery, which celebrates the gallery’s fortieth anniversary, and Dashiell Manley’s “Pastimes” at Jessica Silverman Gallery. There’s a Ron Nagle solo exhibition at BAMPFA that is a must-see. He’s a Bay Area artist and this is his first retrospective in the Bay Area in 30 years, so it’s a very exciting moment for him and for the city. I’m also really looking forward to “Miljohn Ruperto & Ulrik Heltoft: Voynich Botanical Studies” at Friends Indeed Gallery.
WW: What are the best off the beaten path places to see art and design in San Francisco?
SY: There are a lot of great places. A few of my favorites are Minnesota Street Projects, and artist studio visits in particular. The Mission art gallery corridor is a really great area to visit, including Cushion Works, Kadist, Ratio 3, and Capp Street Foundation.
WW: San Francisco is an incredible intersection of art, design, and tech industries. How do you see that cross-section represented at this year’s edition?
SY: I think that what that cross section reflects is the fact that San Francisco is a city filled with creative people, so it’s reflected at the fair in many ways. We see a really diverse crowd of students, artists, local art and design enthusiasts, curators, and collectors at the fair. We see dealers showing works that they might not show elsewhere, as they want to appeal to the creative community here. We will also see it in our programming this year, as we have a few talks that look at this intersection; from a talk that delves into how digital platforms have changed how and what people collect, to a talk that explores what the art and tech communities can learn from one another.