SFAI Chestnut Street Tower

San Francisco Art Institute’s iconic Chestnut Street Tower
Editorial credit: Suzette Leg Anthony / Shutterstock.com

The San Francisco Art Institute, the oldest art school west of the Mississippi, faced closure this spring after COVID-19 made it impossible to reopen for in-person classes this fall. But an April vote by the school board confirmed that the school would remain open, offering a wide variety of grant-supported virtual offerings, and a small selection of on-site offerings.

One of those offerings has been announced recently. An eight-week art exhibition entitled “From the Tower: Transmission” will feature a retrospective of student art from the SFAI’s New Genres Department. Pieces both from contemporary students and from the archives will be projected on the school’s iconic Chestnut Street Tower, which also physically houses the school’s art archive. From September 4 to October 23, art will be shown on all four sides of the tower, allowing viewers to partake in the display from almost any of the campus’s many vantage points.

The series, which will change weekly, will be curated by SFAI’s Master of Fine Arts director and alumni, Tony Labat. SFAI will also be offering a livestream of the projection, so the public can observe it from anywhere in the world. There will also be a mobile-friendly page on the Institute’s website, showing the best viewing points and offering an audio soundtrack to accompany the work.

The show will highlight the history of SFAI’s New Genres Department from its 1970 conception through the 2019-2020 school year, with both archival and current works by students and faculty. It will include fine art, film, performance, and installation pieces, as well as many works that combine more than one of those. Each week, the selection will change, so repeated visits to the campus or livestream are encouraged to see it all. Specific show-times have not yet been announced, but sunset in September in San Francisco is between 7 and 8pm.