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20 Years Of The Yerba Buena Center For The Arts
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20 Years Of The Yerba Buena Center For The Arts

Picture of Adriana Jones
Updated: 5 January 2017
Located next to the Yerba Buena Gardens in downtown San Francisco, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is one of the most innovative and unique places to see visual and performing arts in the city.

The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts was founded in 1993 with the mission to ‘generate culture that moves people and a community that thrives on inspiration.’ It has succeeded over the past two decades, creating a hub for culture and creativity as a multidisciplinary venue. Featuring two main buildings — the Galleries and Forum by Fumihiko Maki and the Novellus Theater by James Stewart Polshek — the architecture of the building is visually appealing.

The exterior of the center © Ken Lund
The exterior of the center | © Ken Lund

Taking the original name of San Francisco, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is home to various programs, including the Youth Artists at Work program, that help connect high school artists and activists with the community at large. It has shown over 2,200 different artists and performances since its opening, and it prides itself on its ability to aid the careers of aspiring artists. The Yerba Buena Center sees itself as ‘cutting edge’ and tries to choose artists who push the envelope.

Art lined windows on one wall of the center © daveynin
Art lined windows on one wall of the center | © daveynin

The Yerba Buena Center hosts a wide variety of exhibitions. The visual art displays vary from international touring fine art features to locally curated community pieces. Currently, the center has two ongoing visual art features. The Sprawl will be in place until April 3rd and is a piece done by the group Metahaven as a commentary on propaganda in the media age. Golden Prospects is a piece by Kevin Cooley and will be in place until April 3, as well, to bring awareness to the problem of water contamination from mining, specifically in Colorado in light of recent events.

Barry McGee’s 2003 Exhibition © Becky Snyder
Barry McGee’s 2003 Exhibition | © Becky Snyder

Other ongoing exhibitions include performing arts and film/video pieces. ODC will present Dance Downtown in March, Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet will perform in April, and Smuin Ballet will perform Helen Pickett’s Oasis in May. Films and music performances are also featured at the center throughout the year; the full calendar can be found online.

Stairs within the Yerba Buena Center © Sharon Mollerus
Stairs within the Yerba Buena Center | © Sharon Mollerus

The center is currently in the process of creating its first fellowship program. Starting this March, the program will seek to answer the question: ‘Can we design freedom?’ The final result of this program will be presented at the center during the bi-annual event, Public Square. Its innovation and new projects are the reason it is often at the forefront of San Francisco art despite its small size.

The Global Lives Project at the center © Global Lives Project
The Global Lives Project at the center | © Global Lives Project

The center is open from 12-6pm on Wednesday and Sunday, and from 12-8pm Thursday through Saturday. The first Tuesday of every month is free, and the galleries are open from 12-8pm. It is closed on Mondays and major holidays; check the calendar before planning a trip, as the center can be rented out for private events.

Ticket prices for the center vary by exhibit. Visual art exhibits tend to be a flat rate of $10, but some can be seen for discounted prices for various reasons (including proof that you took public transit that day), while performing art exhibits vary from $20 to $80.