Set Against the Crashing Waves of the Pacific, a New Art Exhibition Takes On the Climate Crisis

Since 2003, the San Francisco-based FOR-SITE Foundation has centered “art about place,” mounting affecting exhibitions at Fort Mason Chapel (2017’s “Sanctuary,” examining “the basic human need for refuge, protection, and sacred ground” through a series of contemporary handmade rugs), Fort Winfield Scott (2016’s “Home Land Security,” which activated former military structures in the Presidio), Alcatraz Island (2014’s ​​”@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz”), and other sites. With its latest, “Lands End,” opening to the public on Sunday, the setting is San Francisco’s historic Cliff House, a former restaurant and ballroom built in the mid-19th century. There, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, 26 artists from 14 different countries are using painting, photography, sculpture, sound, and other media to respond to the climate crisis.

“It was an appropriate venue from a number of perspectives,” says curator Cheryl Haines, the founding executive director of FOR-SITE and principal of Haines Gallery. “From inside the building, you feel you’re cantilevered out over the edge of the ocean. It’s a very energized space, and it makes you acutely aware of how important the sea is to our existence here; how fragile and changeable it is.” All of that “opens your mind to greater issues, and the fact of a global connectivity,” she adds. 

An 1872 illustration of the Cliff House. Photo: Getty Images

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