Catharine Clark Gallery: Grnad Opening

No, that's not a typo! It's the name of a piece in Catharine Clark's grand opening show at her new digs. This homegrown gallerist has relocated her eponymous space from 49 Geary to 150 Minna. Be assured, this move is a political statement. Clark abandoned her spot in the tony yet frosty A-list Union Square building in favor of the burgeoning egalatarian Museum District, carefully cultivated over the past fifteen-plus years by the San Francisco City Planning Department. Right across the street are SFMOMA and YCBA (Yerba Buena Center for the Arts). The Museum for the African Diaspora around the corner just opened last year and The Contemporary Jewish Museum one block away is almost complete. Clark's timing is perfect.

The new space on the immaculate alleyway (the brand new fancy St. Regis Hotel next door may have something to do with the pristine environment) went through quite a metamorphosis. Formerly a farming equipment warehouse, LA based architectural designer Tim Campbell was in charge of the overhaul.

Clark has invited sixteen artists to participate in this auspicious show. These are artists old and new to Clark and each will be featured more in-depth over the next eighteen months. Clark’s new space is the only gallery in the City to date which features a dedicated video project room- another pitch perfect decision. She replicated the media room installed in the old gallery in 2002, presaging SFMOMA’s January 2006 decision to hire its first curator of media arts, Rudolf Frieling.

As you approach the gallery you first see Nina Katchadourian’s GRNAD OPENING Banner, 2006. This vinyl swath recreates a scene she saw in her Brooklyn neighborhood, and represents the forfeit of control in a new endeavor (perhaps the difficulty of learning a new language as well?). This is a friendly, disarming welcome. Next you are startled by Ray Beldner’s site specific work Ground Breaking or In Advance of the Broken Shovel, a nod to Duchamp’s In Advance of a Broken Arm. The upright shovels are frozen at attention and buried a few inches in the poured concrete floor. You can buy just one if that’s what you want.

Clark’s first gallery, Morphos, opened in Hayes Valley in 1991. Before getting into the business of art, she was an art journalist writing for Cambio, a weekly East Bay Marxist newspaper. It was inappropriate to write about the art market for that publication, so she established her voice and eye by examining the intellectual aspects of the work she featured. Her brand still reflects those origins.

Bordering the neighborhood on the west side are pioneering Braunstein/Quay (pronounced "key") and Hosfelt who share a duplex style warehouse space at 430 Clementina Alley. Both used to be at Union Square but made the one mile move southwest during the dot-com boom. The neighborhood's development "paused" after the crash, but is fulfilling its promise now. It's just a ten minute walk from Minna and Third to Clementina and Fifth so fortify yourself with something to eat at Caffè Museo and then stroll three blocks through the Howard Street corridor to your destination.

This show: $975-$52000

June 2 - July 7, Catharine Clark Gallery, 150 Minna, Ground Floor, San Francisco, 94105,, 415.399.1439, Gallery Hours: Tuesday - Friday, 10:30 - 5:30, Saturday, 11 - 5:30