Surreal cityscapes? Candy wrapper ball gowns? Binge on creativity all summer via these local art exhibits.

Nine new art shows to see right now around the SF Peninsula

A multi-faceted glimpse into summer art offerings on the Peninsula. Check them all out below.

Resolved to improving your cultural diet with fewer Hollywood blockbusters and more real deal art? We’re right there with you. When you’re having trouble connecting with the world on the cinematic big screen, a gallery or museum can offer a more personable experience. There’s that tactile factor — the physical slopes and ridges of marble that comprise a sculpture, the dip and flow of physical paint across canvas — that simply can’t be experienced with two-dimensional movie projections (not to mention a whole world of artistic experience beyond endless reboots of comic book heroes and rehashed takes on old monsters).

Lucky for us, the Peninsula possesses (or is a short trip to) numerous top-notch museum shows and off-the-beaten-path exhibits worth seeing this summer. So whether you’re drawn to group shows or solo exhibitions, local artists or international ones, photography or paintings, there’s something in here for you. Take a look….

(Images via SFO Museum website)

Clarissa Bonet: City Space (January 28 — July 22 at SFO Museum)

In her ongoing photo series City Space, Clarissa Bonet reflects on her experiences roving the streets of Chicago. Dramatic light and dark contrasts (in chiaroscuro style) highlight both the physical and psychological facets of urban life. Isolation, one theme in these cityscapes, is captured through faceless silhouettes and the near encounters of strangers passing each other, unnoticed.

A Florida native, Bonet talks of the culture shock experienced after first moving to Chicago in an interview with artist collective Strange Fire: “The landscape felt wholly foreign — the sheer expanse of the city, the anonymous individuals that I would never see again and the large swaths of concrete that covered the surface of the city… To understand this new landscape and my place within it, I started making images about it and my experience of it, which eventually turned into City Space.”

SFO Museum // San Francisco, 94128; 650.821.6700

(Images via Peninsula Museum of Art website)

Terra Infirma (May 19 — July 28 at Peninsula Museum of Art)

Multiple artists convene for Peninsula Museum of Art’s stunning Terra Infirma: An Exhibition of Artwork Addressing Climate Change. Encounter the work of Kim Anno, a Japanese-American painter (featured in prestigious museums like SFMOMA and Getty Research Institute) who combines art and science to consider issues such as climate change and adaptation. Exploring clues within our history and literature, she seeks to uncover the cause of our current environmental predicament.

She is joined by illustrator Doyle Wegner who probes people’s interactions with nature through images that blend the everyday with dreams, imagination, myths and fairytales. A third artist, Jon Kerpel, shares ‘Earth Saints,’ a series utilizing geometric patterns and found objects to recognize those who sacrificed greatly (even at risk of their lives) for the welfare of the environment.

Peninsula Museum of Art // 1777 California Drive, Burlingame; 650.692.2101

(Images via Charlotte Kruk’s website)

In the Artist’s Studio: Featuring Charlotte Kruk (April 26— August 4 at NUMU)

Savor the latest installment of In The Artist’s Studio from New Museum Los Gatos (NUMU) with their showcase of Charlotte Kruk, a local sculptress who repurposes discarded food and candy wrappers into wearable art. The sweet, colorful creations of Kruk reveal her reactions toward environmental, cultural, and personal experiences. Her playful past designs include a flamenco dress fashioned out of scarlet M&M wrappers and a Rococo gown comprised of powder-pink C&H sugar bags.

“It’s remarkable to imagine the art and science involved in the countless hours of creativity ignored by consumers as packaging quickly makes its way to trash,” she shares in an interview featured by the museum. “Repurposing the ‘clothes’ of our food seemed a fine way to comment on what is, or what isn’t, underneath all those layers.”

NUMU // 106 E. Main Street, Los Gatos; 408.354.2646

(Images via SJMUSART Facebook page)

Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World (now— October 6 at San Jose Museum of Art)

The large-scale sculptures of Rina Banerjee’s Make Me a Summary of the World delve into the adaptive culture and traditions that result from globalization. With thought-provoking titles and materials sourced from around the globe (everything from African tribal jewelry to Korean silks), Banerjee celebrates diversity and questions exoticism. Some even recognize her as one of the most significant artists of the post-colonial Indian diaspora living in the United States.

“I could never be a Minimalist artist,” Banerjee once told international magazine Artforum. “I am interested in corrupting fine art with everything I wish for. I want adventure and to feel the same sense of command that I imagine an explorer or a scientist would — like a visitor trespassing.”

San Jose Museum of Art // 110 South Market Street, San Jose; 408.271.6840​

(Image via SJICA website)

Surreal Sublime (June 23 — September 15 at San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art)

Featuring abstract, dream-like interpretations of natural scenery, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art explores the awe-inspiring in its latest group show, Surreal Sublime. Creatives marvel at the untamed beauty of untouched landscapes, but also warn against an apocalyptic, synthetic future.

Attaboy, one of the twelve featured artists, presents a throne of nightmarish plant life. While mixed media artist Kate Shaw combines glow-in-the-dark paintings with projection and audio elements. Meet the artists in person at a reception held on June 23rd.

San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art // 560 South First Street
San Jose; 408.283.8155

(Images via Kristen Martincic’s website)

Kristen Martincic: Swim Club (April 20 — July 14 at San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles)

Heavily influenced by a childhood dipping in and out of swimming pools and lakes, Kristen Martincic’s exhibit ‘Swim Club’ dives into the topic of womanhood through paper bathing suits. These delicate representations of swimwear act as a surrogate for the female body and discuss social conventions. The wispy, wafer-thin material speaks of the awkwardness of vulnerability while maintaining a lighthearted spirit.

“I use bathing suits and environments associated with water to reveal the fine line between public and private, intimacy and exposure, skin and clothing,” Martincic shares in an interview with Create Zine.

San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles // 520 S. First Street, San Jose; 408.971.0323

(Images via Pace Gallery website)

Liu Jianhua (June 21 — August 4 at Pace Gallery)

Liu Jianhua’s philosophical sculptures ponder the underpinnings of form, abstraction and beauty from a neo-traditional perspective. Porcelain, the artist’s medium of choice, is a material he has explored since an apprenticeship at a ceramic production factory in China’s Jiangxi Province during the ’70s, and it carries both cultural and historical implications. His exhibit at the Pace Gallery will include earlier series Blank Paper (white porcelain sculpted to mimic sheets of paper) as well as his more recent work simply referred to as Square. In this subsequent installation, Jianhua displays a Midas-like touch, taking porcelain and steel and transforming them into mesmerizing golden-glazed pools.

Pace Gallery // 229 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto; 650.561.4076

(Image via Cantor Arts website)

Josiah McElheny: Island Universe (February 23— August 18 at Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University)

In Island Universe, Josiah McElheny’s galactic chandeliers collide the topics of art and physics by responding to recent theories of the multiverse (the hypothetical existence of multiple universes). Aesthetically modeled after the eclectic light fixtures of the Metropolitan Opera, each creation resembles a spattering of constellations. The chromed metal, handblown glass and lightbulbs are positioned to represent astronomy professor David Weinberg’s scientific measurements mapping the history of time.

Cantor Arts Center // 328 Lomita Drive at Museum Way, Stanford; 650.498.1480

“Reflections on a Rainy Night” by Andrew Valencia Yan

Peninsula Photo Contest (May 21 — June 23 at Palo Alto Art Center)

The Six Fifty’s very own photo competition is on display featuring the work of winners and honorable mentions at the Palo Alto Art Center. Entries were submitted by photographers of all skill levels working, living or attending school in or around the 650 area code. Covered categories include portraits, the natural world, moments, nocturnal, abstract and travel.

Collectively, the winning entries add up to an eclectic series of compelling images that will likely inspire your own photographic interests. (Note that the exhibit ends soon!)

Palo Alto Art Center // 1313 Newell Road, Palo Alto

Stay up to date with other coverage from The Six Fifty by subscribing to our weekly newsletter, featuring event listings, reviews and articles showcasing the best that the Peninsula has to offer. Sign up here!

More local arts from The Six Fifty:

Johanna Hickle Profile Photo

Johanna Harlow

Journalist with a fondness for micro-cultures and all things quirky.

You May Also Like

Cinequest independent film festival debuts in Mountain View

From garages to spaceships, a new exhibition explores the evolution of Silicon Valley architecture

Take a peek: Here are the 2023 Peninsula Photo Contest’s winning images

Cantor photo exhibition shows there was much more to life in the 1930s than the Great Depression