Mini San Francisco Art City Guide

by Zoya Mirzaghitova

SF Art City Guide Ed

A few weeks ago I decided that I needed to go somewhere. Where I really wanted to go was New York or Europe (I know, pretty stereotypical..) but there was no way my student budget would allow it. So I decided that I will go somewhere on the west coast of the States, far enough away that it’s different but close enough that it’s cheap. The cheapest tickets ended up being to San Francisco, so off I went.

Having only a weekend to spare, my stay was short and sweet. I loved the city, Hitchcock rightfully calls it the Paris of America, and amongst my adventures I found a little corner of downtown with art galleries and museums, an exquisite tea lounge, and a beautiful park amongst the tall, tall buildings. Here is a quick guide to that little corner of the city.

Sound Art Intervention


On my way to the few blocks that seemed to hold most of the art museums and galleries in town, I encountered this art intervention. Two concave, concrete circles faced each other in a circular, wooden “rib” structure. If two people were to sit, one in front of each circle, the sound between them would be carried by the shape of the structure and they would be able to hear each other above the sounds of the city, despite being quite far away.

The Yebra Buena Gardens


The Gardens take up a block in the heart downtown creating a strange, green oasis amongst the skyscrapers. One of the first things I noticed when I arrived in San Francisco from Vancouver were the buildings. They were taller, bigger and much more numerous than the Downtown I call home. On a sunny Californian day (it rained when I was there), it would be a great place to go and watch the city move.

The Yebra Buena Centre for the Arts


The Art Centre shares the city block with the gardens. It is a large, two story gallery which puts on multiple exhibitions at a time. I was there during a performance piece in the lobby.

The Samovar Tea Lounge


If you love tea this is the place for you! This glass box of a building perches on top of an artificial waterfall in the Yebra Buena Gardens with spectacular views of the city. With more food options than the average tea café they offer a variety of afternoon tea services including British, Japanese and Russian!

The Contemporary Jewish Museum


The building that houses the Jewish Museum is sight to behold. It is an old, institutional looking, brick building with an addition on the side that looks like an enormous, black diamond. The exhibitions there were as varied as the architecture, with a room on Jewish music in the 50s, a contemporary art exhibit and a room dedicated to a children’s book illustrator, Arnold Lobel.

The Cartoon Museum

The Cartoon Museum is hidden amongst storefronts. Inside was a wonderful selection of original art work by many cartoonists, manga artists and graphic novelists.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art


…is closed until 2016 for the construction of a new museum building. The gift shop, however, is up and running just a block away. Their strategy for staying active without a building is intriguing: they say that they have “moved . . . everywhere.” They have moved their exhibitions and performances in to the city, holding regular events and creating public art projects. Unfortunately, I was not able to find anything happening the weekend I was there.


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