9 San Francisco Art Galleries to Visit Right Now

Want to see what working artists are up to? Here’s where to do it.

Glass Rice Gallery in San Francisco

Glass Rice

By Adrian Spinelli

Art galleries are part of a city’s vital organs. If parks are the city’s lungs, San Francisco’s galleries are the right side of its brain, housing the creative juices that lead to new frontiers in artistic expression. As S.F.’s cultural identity continues to shift, so do the works within these spaces: queer, BIPOC and women artists increasingly make up a significant portion of the gallery landscape, yielding a vibrant metamorphosis of the scene. While exhibits are constantly in flux, these are the art galleries in San Francisco to check out right now. And hey, you might even feel compelled to walk away with something to keep.

Heron Arts
Becca Henry Photography

Heron Arts

SOMA’s Heron Arts is an incredible space. Since 2013, the vast warehouse has thrived on pushing the envelope of the intersection of art and technology. Recently, the third installment of Heron’s Resonance in Light series was on display, featuring the Gamelatron Project: A network of custom bronze gamelan instruments synced up through software that plays music composed by Aaron Taylor Kuffner, which also connects to lighting installations throughout the space. “It’s a sonic, kinetic, photonic organism,” principal cohort artist John Taylor says. Relaxing on a beanbag chair, you could feel vibrations from the gamelans bouncing back and forth in a series of programmed synapses, while feasting your eyes on musically responsive interstellar lights; truly an amazing experience and typical of the technological envelopes that Heron Arts likes to push. On April 6, Mexican-born, Oakland-based muralist and painter Jet Martinez’s floriographic Un Lenguaje de Flores begins. 

Visit: By appointment. Free, with an option to donate.
7 Heron St

Jonathan Carver Moore (left) and artist Andrew Wilson (right)
Tinashe Wertz Chidarikire

Jonathan Carver Moore

These days, Mid-Market isn’t typically a place where you’d find a burgeoning new art gallery, let alone one that showcases the work of underrepresented and overlooked BIPOC, women and LGBTQ+ artists. But it’s a commitment to laying roots in what’s also San Francisco’s transgender district that typifies the ethos of gallery owner/operator Jonathan Carver Moore’s expression. “I want to show that elite spaces can be used for creative purposes in the Bay Area. This is like a big proof of concept,” says Moore, who happens to be the only queer Black gallery owner in San Francisco. And while Andrew Wilson’s stunning double exposure photographs of Black men, in a collection dubbed Torn Asunder, just wrapped up, Moore’s next exhibition is a celebration of JCM’s first anniversary featuring Ghanaian artist Aplerh-Doku Borlabi. In his first U.S. residency, Borlabi employs a technique where he uses coconut sheath to depict the varying shades and details of Black complexions in his portraits. All of the works are original pieces that he created in residency at Moore’s 2,600-square-foot space next door to the main gallery. The Borlabi show, Bold, begins March 23 and runs through June 8.

Visit: Sat 12-4 p.m., by appointment other days
966 Market St

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Haight Street Art Center

San Francisco is renowned for its role in rock music history, so it feels especially appropriate that the current exhibit at the Haight Street Art Center centers on the poster art synonymous with live music. Women of Rock Art exclusively features works by female artists, from Fillmore legend Bonnie MacLean to Mexico City’s Dozergirl, spanning from 1965 to 2023. Concerts from bands who are notoriously committed to varying poster art, like the Pixies, Phish, Pearl Jam and Wilco, are everywhere, as are posters from festivals like the local institution Outside Lands. Female-fronted bands like Portishead and the Breeders play on the speakers as you walk through. Upstairs, there’s a print studio that offers screen-printing classes for the community. 

Visit: Thurs-Sun 12-6 p.m.
215 Haight St

On a bustling stretch of the Mission District’s Valencia Street corridor, City Art presents itself as a different kind of conceptual gallery: it’s run by volunteers and showcases the work of its member artists, rotating each month in both content and placement. A lottery system lets the artists choose where in the distinctive sections of the gallery space they’d like their work to be showcased, so the flow of the space feels more spontaneous. As all artists are locals, much of the reasonably priced work skews towards the beauty of San Francisco, but it’s certainly not limited to it — you can find handcrafted jewelry artists showcasing here, too. The first Friday of each month features a new art opening and it’s free to the public. 

Visit: Sun, Wed-Thur 12-9 p.m.; Fri-Sat 12-10 p.m.
828 Valencia St

Glass Rice

The Lower Nob Hill/TenderNob neighborhood has been a ground zero of sorts for like-minded art galleries and small businesses that all breathe within a tight-knit community. Since 2016, Glass Rice has been a core part of these spaces — and owned by S.F.-born and raised Cecilia Chia. A Chinese-American, Chia’s mission is to support emerging artists and as many Bay Area, POC and women artists as possible — which is most of what Glass Rice shows. Most recently, Marcel Rozek’s large-scale oil paintings were on view, a reflection on the power of color and how it affects the wavelengths of our thoughts. Beginning on March 30, Michelle Favin’s Following the Footprints debut solo exhibit takes shape, a 10-painting series that explores Buddhist literature on the 10 stages of enlightenment. “I’ve been watching her style change the past two years or so and she’s really hitting a sweet spot in her work,” Chia says. Meanwhile beyond the high ceilings in the main gallery, Chia says the low-slung back display area will become a concept store later this summer. 

Visit: Thur-Fri 12-5 p.m., Sat by appointment
808 Sutter St

Minnesota Street Project
Adrian Spinelli

Minnesota Street Project

If you really want to pack in a bevy of diverse galleries, the Dogpatch district’s Minnesota Street Project features 14 of them under one enormous roof. The vision here is to provide economically sustainable space for galleries, artists and nonprofits, while building towards international renown for the entire community. Art follows you everywhere in the sweeping two-story space, from the the Clarion Alley Mural Project’s Manifest Differently exhibit spanning the walls of the atrium, to noted galleries like Jack Fischer and Rena Bransten. And with modern Indian restaurant Besharam holding court on the downstairs floor, MSP is a destination for locals and tourists alike to come by and discover for hours. 

Visit: Each gallery’s hours vary, but the MSP Atrium is open Tue-Sat 11 a.m.-6 p.m. 
1275 Minnesota St

Works from Julio Cesar Williams at COL
Phillip Maisel

A level below Ruth Asawa’s enigmatic Ghirardelli Square fountain lies one of San Francisco’s newest contemporary arts galleries in COL. Opened last September by Callie Jones and Julia Li, you can look across Beach Street and see Alcatraz in the Bay from the tall windows of the gallery’s facade, a companion to the canvases adorning the low walls. There’s a new show every six weeks; now through April 26, Oakland-born Julio Cesar Williams’s gorgeous paintings are on display. Williams’s pointed acrylic abstractions are inspired by the atmospheres and skies of California, which tie together so well when depicted in this magical corner of the city.

Visit: Most days by appointment
887 Beach St

Schlomer Haus

On the Castro District’s Upper Market Street stretch, Schlomer Haus has made it their mission to amplify the voices and perspectives of next-gen and mid-career queer artists since 2021. The unique space has a main gallery in the front showcasing the current exhibition, and then a smaller gallery in the back, which houses select works from the previous one. The two rooms are separated by two showcase alcoves, making it an exceptional space for curious creative minds. Currently on view in the main gallery until April 27, James Cherry’s Listening presents the artist’s alluring salvaged fabric mesh lamps and driftwood carvings made from wood foraged up and down the coast of California. Meanwhile, Devynn Barnes’s visceral photographs of the East Bay queer community and Oakland Black cowboys from Renaissance of Reclamation are in the back gallery. Exhibitions rotate every six to eight weeks, and opening parties are typically timed with the Castro Art Walk on the first Friday of every month. 

Visit: Tue-Sat 12-6 p.m. or by appointment

2128 Market St

Gallery 444
Adrian Spinelli

Real estate in San Francisco’s historic Union Square is expensive to say the least, so it’s a credit to Gallery 444 that the family-operated space has stood strong at the same Post Street location since 1993. The modest-yet-inviting fine art space features works like Marty Goldstein’s endearing bronze canine sculptures, French mixed-media pop art provocateur Jisbar’s large-scale canvases and Bolivian painter Graciela Rodo Boulanger’s famed depictions of cherubic-faced children. It’s a worthy stopover when you need a break from the commercial inundation of Union Square.

Visit: Mon-Sat 10-5 p.m.
444 Post St

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