September 20, 2013 - San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) - 2012 SECA Art Award
September 20, 2013

2012 SECA Art Award

Jonn Herschend, Stories from the Evacuation, 2013. Production still, HD video, color, sound, 22:33 minutes. Commissioned by SFMOMA, courtesy the artist and Steven Wolf Fine Arts, San Francisco. © Jonn Herschend.

2012 SECA Art Award: Zarouhie Abdalian, Josh Faught, Jonn Herschend, David Wilson
14 September–17 November 2013

On view at various San Francisco Bay Area locations

For the first time in the history of SFMOMA’s biennial award program honoring Bay Area artists, the museum has commissioned the four recipients of the 2012 SECA Art Award to create work outside the traditional gallery context. Their site-responsive projects will appear in the following locations of the artists’ choosing: Zarouhie Abdalian in downtown Oakland; Josh Faught at the Neptune Society Columbarium in San Francisco; Jonn Herschend on SFMOMA’s website; and David Wilson in front of SFMOMA, leading to six outdoor locations in San Francisco. This unique iteration of the award exhibition is organized by Jenny Gheith, assistant curator of painting and sculpture, and Tanya Zimbardo, assistant curator of media arts, as part of SFMOMA’s slate of off-site exhibitions and programs taking place throughout the Bay Area while its building is temporarily closed for expansion construction.

The accompanying exhibition catalogue will be released in November, available at SFMOMA’s MuseumStore.

Major support for this exhibition is provided by SECA (Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art), an SFMOMA art interest group. Generous support is provided by Carlie Wilmans. Additional support is provided by the SECA Circle of Friends.

Zarouhie Abdalian
Downtown Oakland

Abdalian’s sound installation, Occasional Music (2013), consists of brass bells programmed to ring simultaneously at varying times each day from rooftops in and around Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, at 14th Street and Broadway. For several minutes, each bell will play a randomized rhythmic structure of accelerandi and ritardandos that will sound differently every time. The artist is interested in the way that “bells regulate the activities of social spaces—announcing the passing of hours, shift changes, festivals, calls to service, and emergencies—and become powerful mechanisms by which the listener is situated in space.” This experiential piece shifts the listener’s attention and awareness of the city center, a historic place associated with community gathering, performance, and protest. Abdalian first noticed the potential for this site in 2010 through gatherings in support of Oscar Grant’s family that were held in the plaza during the Johannes Mehserle trial. Since the bells are out of view from those who hear them, their sound has no visual anchor, an absence accentuated by the empty bell tower atop city hall. 

Josh Faught
Neptune Society Columbarium
1 Loraine Court
San Francisco
Hours: Monday–Friday 8am–5pm; Saturday–Sunday 10am–3pm; free admission

For his site-specific installation, titled BE BOLD For What You Stand For, BE CAREFUL For What You Fall For (2013), Faught created a constellation of hand-woven, fiber-based sculptures that respond to the architecture and history of the Neptune Society Columbarium, a repository for cremation urns located in the Inner Richmond neighborhood of San Francisco. The only nondenominational cemetery in the city, this 19th-century neoclassical treasure houses more than 8,000 inurnment niches that memorialize everyday people, cultural figures, artists, and other notable San Franciscans. Faught’s installation is inspired by the visual language of these personalized tributes, and takes the form of two freestanding works of crocheted and woven yarn on wooden armatures and one large, suspended woven sculpture—his largest work to date—that engage with the space’s central rotunda, Zubanan stairwell, and Dome. His color palette is restricted to hues that artist and designer William Morris articulated in the early 20th-century Arts and Crafts movement—including cochineal pink, indigo blue, walnut brown, and weld yellow. “Each of these natural dyes has a somewhat fugitive quality, which extends to some of the thematic narratives in the content of the work around transition and time,” explains Faught. The San Francisco–based artist’s first solo exhibition in the Bay Area also furthers his investigation of emotional support structures and various histories of craft, the queer community, and activism.

Jonn Herschend

Jonn Herschend investigates emotional truth, confusion, and absurdity in everyday life through video, film, installation, and performance. Shot on location at SFMOMA, his short film Stories from the Evacuation (2013) takes the museum’s temporary building closure as the point of departure for a behind-the-scenes look at its art and office relocation, exploring narratives of risk and personal transition, as well as public and private roles. The San Francisco–based artist interviewed several SFMOMA staff members about their perspectives on this significant time of change. “With all stories there is a front-of-the house and back-of-the-house,” he says. “There are stories we present to the world and there is the complicated and sometimes messy reality of how these things happen.” Herschend’s view of the tremendous collaborative effort and planning involved in the museum’s transition phase becomes increasingly focused on one interview subject’s personal backstory. 

David Wilson
Around San Francisco; visitors can pick up maps at SFMOMA’s 151 Third Street building entrance 

For Arrivals (2013), Wilson will develop a series of self-guided journeys to six outdoor sites throughout San Francisco. Each journey begins at a central trailhead located at the main entrance of SFMOMA’s Third Street building, where visitors can pick up hand-drawn maps with instructions for the experience. The first map leads to a eucalyptus grove at the Presidio, where the artist has installed an elaborate, 16-foot-high ink drawing spread over twenty sheets of paper. “I was looking for a spot in San Francisco where there would be a sense of outdoor, natural architecture—a gallery in the forest—and see what happens when a drawing is placed in a living environment,” he says. The drawing depicts another natural landmark in Northern California—called Frog Woman Rock, a distinctive rock formation in the Russian River Canyon recreational area that, for Wilson, evokes expectation and the excitement of arrival on his frequent trips to the area. Whether working in large groups or one-on-one exchanges, Wilson’s ephemeral projects often involve collaboration with a rich community of musicians, filmmakers, and other artists. Arrivals continues this interest, featuring tape recordings of song, music, or sound-based performances previously made at each location by Wilson with guest collaborators such as Andy Cabic (of Vetiver), Danny Paul Grody and Tony Cross (of Tarentel), Colter Jacobsen (of Coconut), Holly Herndon, Sonny Smith (of Sonny & The Sunsets), and Sarah Simon and Kate Sweeney (of Magic Magic Roses). 

About SECA
Established in 1967, SFMOMA’s SECA Art Award honors innovative and talented Bay Area artists whose work has not been accorded substantial institutional recognition. Recent SECA Art Award recipients include Mauricio Ancalmo, Colter Jacobsen, Ruth Laskey, and Kamau Amu Patton (2010); Tauba Auerbach, Desirée Holman, Jordan Kantor, and Trevor Paglen (2008); Sarah Cain, Kota Ezawa, Amy Franceschini, Mitzi Pederson, and Leslie Shows (2006); Rosana Castrillo Díaz, Simon Evans, Shaun O’Dell, and Josephine Taylor (2004); and John Bankston, Andrea Higgins, Chris Johanson, and Will Rogan (2002). 

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
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