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Why I Love Going to Art Shows at Modern Eden Gallery

Updated: Feb 02, 2023 11:00
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Modern Eden Gallery, Photo by Michael Cuffe

Written By: Saraah Dickens

I’m always on the lookout for free things to do on the weekends, (because poor,) and my very favorite free events are art gallery show openings where I can get my semi-regular dose of beauty and culture. They’re all the art and fanciness of a museum but no cost for admission or docents following you around making sure you’re wearing your backpack like a kangaroo. So when I heard that my favorite gallery in San Francisco, Modern Eden Gallery, was having a new group exhibition opening in anticipation of Lunar New Year, I knew I had to go to the party.

San Francisco is many things, but ultimately, it’s an art city

San Francisco is many things, but ultimately, it’s an art city. From the countless murals of the Mission to the multiple art museums, San Francisco blesses us with visual media every chance it gets. There are great art galleries all over the city, and they’re an especially excellent option for something cool to do when you’re short on cash.

If you’re going to go to an art show, group exhibitions are the best bang for your buck (but again, it’s free!). You get to see a lot of different styles of art, from traditional oils and acrylics to sculpture and digital photography. At a solo show, if the art style isn’t your jam, it’s kind of a bummer; with a group show, there’s something for everyone!

If you want to have a visceral reaction to art, you have to go witness it.

Art show openings also give you the opportunity to dress up and get creative with your sartorial self-expression. Local artists with work in the show usually attend and they dress exactly how you would picture artists dress. They look exciting and mysterious. Sometimes even a little magical. It’s fun to try to figure out which artist goes with which piece. Half the point of going to an art show opening is dressing up, so match the vibe and dress like a serious art lover, whatever that means to you.

Modern Eden’s latest group exhibition is titled “Year of the Rabbit.” With San Francisco being home to North America’s oldest Chinatown, not to mention the large Asian American population of the Bay Area, Lunar New Year is a big deal in the Bay. According to Modern Eden’s newsletter, the show is “an exhibition celebrating Lunar New Year and the Chinese zodiac. Participating artists will set community intentions for a new year of health, happiness and good fortune!” A gallery opening full of rabbits in time for the Lunar New Year? How lucky can you get?  It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday night.

Photo Courtesy of Author

The opening was from 6 to 8 p.m. I invited my friend, Zuly, and we decided to go at 7. Getting there right at 6 would have been totally gauche, that’s for the artists and serious buyers only. Arriving in the middle of the party is the way to go. We found parking around the corner and walked to Modern Eden. You could see from the street that the opening had a good turn out.

Upon entering, we were struck by the stunning title wall featuring six incredibly vivid paintings of rabbits in all different styles. I had seen some of those pieces on Modern Eden’s Instagram posts leading up to the opening, but seeing them in person was a zillion times better. I rarely feel very affected by art that I see online but seeing art with my own eyes never fails to feed my soul. If you want to have a visceral reaction to art, you have to go witness it.

The show had attracted an unusually diverse range of ages to the gallery. The majority of the attendees were the usual mix of 20-40 something art appreciators but there were also a couple of seniors and a group of young teenagers thrown in. It was great to see so many people of different ages coming together to view some beautiful art and support artists.

I was particularly excited to see what artist Kelly McKernan painted for the show. She’s been a leading voice among artists speaking out against AI generated art and she’s wildly talented. Her activist work is really important to the future of the art world. She’s definitely someone to watch. Her small painting “Burrow” practically glows with otherworldly light. Another artist’s work I was looking forward to seeing was Stephanie Kilgast, and her tiny galaxy bunnies on take-out trash sculpture playfully titled “To Infinity and Beyond,” did not disappoint! Muralist Amandalynn also had a piece in the show, “Bunny,”a fun custom wood cut out of a Playboy Bunny-esque pinup posing on a carrot. Her giant mural “Full Circle” is kitty-corner from the gallery and totally worth checking out in the daytime.

A nice thing about Modern Eden Gallery is that if none of the pieces are in your price range but you feel like you want some original art in your life, they have prints at the gallery and online that are a fraction of the cost of what’s on display in the exhibition. They also have an annual sale, so consider signing up for their newsletter if you’re interested in being cool and hanging some art in your house.

We made our way through the show and slipped out into the misty night feeling cultured and happy. There was no way you could see all those brightly colored bunnies and not leave with a smile on your face. I definitely was hoping that being surrounded by so much art of 2023’s rabbit mascot would help me to have a lucky year. I guess I won’t know if it worked until the end of this Lunar Year, though.

This is the final week to view the “Year of the Rabbit” group exhibition. Modern Eden Gallery is located at 1100 Sutter Street in San Francisco. It’s open Wednesday through Saturday 12-5 pm. There will be a special closing reception on Thursday, February 2nd during SF First Thursday Art Walk.

I’ve never been to an art show closing reception, but I’m sure they’re as fun and enriching (and free!) as art show openings.  So don’t miss out, go see “Year of the Rabbit” at Modern Eden Gallery and increase your chances for good luck in 2023.

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