Behind the Scenes at the Opening Night of artMRKT

For the past week, Max Fishko and company have been tirelessly converting the Concourse Exhibition Center from a cavernous abandoned train depot into artMRKT, San Francisco’s premier contemporary art venue. Tonight’s exclusive preview benefits the de Young and the Legion of Honor, so we thought we’d take you inside for a behind-the-scenes look at this remarkable transformation.


Entering into the Concourse, visitors will immediately grasp the magnitude of the space and all that artMRKT has to offer. Based on the original train station format with two platforms flanking a central track, artMRKT’s vast holdings are immediately apparent.


To the right of the entrance, visitors will encounter an inventive VIP lounge designed by Butler Armsden Architects. Fishko admitted that when the designers first showed up with a bunch of pallets (the wooden platforms used to transport large art objects), he was a bit concerned; but with artist quotes etched onto the planks and vibrant textiles upholstering the slats, the designers created a chic and unique enclave in keeping with Fishko’s vision.


Walking through the space, we met Beau Basse of LeBasse Projects in Los Angeles. Although covered in paint, Basse was no less articulate about the winning formula for a successful work of art: “San Francisco collectors are looking for the triple threat—work that’s aesthetically interesting, has a good story behind it and has the potential to increase in value.”

As we moved through the space, it became clear that many of the artists were installing art right alongside their dealers, lending the vibe a definitively San Francisco DIY authenticity.


Chatting with everyone we passed, Fishko said, “This is like opening up Christmas presents after staring at the wrapped boxes for months!”

Moving into the central exhibition space—where trains once came barreling through—familiar figures loomed large. Dolby Chadwick Gallery presented a phalanx of Stephen De Staebler winged figures, while the Weinstein Gallery impeccably laid out new work from Alec Soth (whose photographs will be featured in the upcoming exhibition Real to Real: Photographs from the Traina Collection , opening June 9 at the de Young).

SDS Phalanx


artMRKT has called upon several curators from the de Young and the Legion of Honor to participate in special panels and events throughout the fair’s run.

  • The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetes and Interior Design, featuring Dr. Lynn Federle Orr, curator in charge of European art. Friday, May 18, 2:30–3:30 pm
  • Flowing Forward: An Artist Talk with Hung Liu, in conversation with Karin Breuer, curator in charge of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts. Sunday, May 20, 1–2 pm
  • Stephen De Staebler: Humanist Sculptor in an Existentialist Age, presented by Timothy Anglin Burgard, The Ednah Root curator in charge of American art. Sunday, May 20, 3–4 pm

For a complete listing of artMRKT special programs, please click here.

Spot tomorrow’s art star tonight and support the de Young and the Legion of Honor with artMRKT’s o pening night benefit preview pass! As you can see, artMRKT warrants multiple visits—with the opening night benefit preview pass you'll be granted VIP return access all weekend long! Single-day and three-day passes are also available.

artMRKT is open Friday, May 18 and Saturday, May 19 from 11 am–7 pm and on Sunday, May 20 from noon–6 pm at the Concourse Exhibition Center. artMRKT is located at 620 7th Street (at Brannan Street).