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Exploring Systemic with the Urbanauts
Urbanauts mapping urban exploration

This post was written in collaboration wtih Jasmin Bode.

In plain sight or behind closed doors, in basements, or beneath manhole covers, lurk the myriad systems that support city life—drains, running water, sewage treatment, and fire-suppression, to name just a few. The Urbanauts, current de Young Artist Fellows Sean Orlando and Rebar, have tasked themselves with the exploration of this infrastructure and its relationship to the everyday experience of the contemporary city. Their investigations began last October and now—during the second phase of their fellowship—they present Systemic, an installation on view in the de Young’s Kimball Education Gallery that will evolve throughout the month of June. We recently spoke with the Urbanauts about their project.

Photo by Adrian Arias

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Travels with Zarafa
Bedcover, ca. 1830. 2010.10

Last week, our friends at the San Francisco Zoo welcomed a zooborn baby giraffe. Today, we introduce you to our resident giraffe, Zarafa, who is pictured on a 19th-century bedcover featured in the special exhibition From the Exotic to the Mystical: Textile Treasures from the Permanent Collection (on view until August 4, 2013). In this blog post, Zarafa shares her fascinating history as she takes us on a fantastical journey across the world.

Bedcover, ca. 1830. United States. Cotton; block-print and appliqué. Gift of Mrs. Mary Swaine Morgan. 2010.10

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Museums and Art Fairs: The Inside Story
Assistant curator of American art, Emma Acker

Spring in San Francisco brings with it a season of art fairs, including artMRKT whose opening night preview reception this Thursday, May 16 benefits the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s newly created New Acquisitions Fund. Featuring 70 galleries from around the globe, artMRKT provides a unique opportunity for museum professionals and art enthusiasts to gather, discuss, and view the world’s premier contemporary and modern art. This year, artMRKT includes a series of special lectures presented by several of our own curators, including Emma Acker, assistant curator of American art. We sat down with Ms. Acker to discuss the relationship between art fairs and museums, such as the de Young and the Legion of Honor.

Emma Acker, assistant curator of American art

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On the Hunt for Rembrandt
Rembrandt's Self-Portrait Drawing at a Window, 1648

The special exhibition Rembrandt’s Century, closing on June 2, is remarkable not only for its breadth but also for the fact that it is drawn primarily from the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts (AFGA), the works on paper department at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. As curator Jim Ganz relates, this exhibition’s compilation required an epic treasure hunt through the Museums’ permanent collections, an endeavor that proved neither easy nor efficient, but was ultimately incredibly fruitful.

Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669). Self-Portrait Drawing at a Window, 1648. Etching, drypoint, and engraving. Bruno and Sadie Adriani Collection. 1959.40.19

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A Trompe-l'oeil Traveler
Conservation intern Laura Neufeld works on Pier Gustafson's paper suitcase

One of the most exciting aspects of working in paper conservation at the Legion of Honor is the variety of objects encountered on a daily basis. When working on a 17th-century print, for example, conservation intern Laura Neufeld faced many traditional paper conservation challenges. Pier Gustafson’s Father’s Suitcase, on the other hand, is a one-of-a kind artwork that required unique treatment solutions.

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