San Francisco's de Young Museum celebrates Bay Area artists

The de Young Museum in San Francisco is celebrating local artists with a special exhibit called "de Young Open." 

"You see this incredible image of this city that has partially been obliterated by bombing, missiles," curator Timothy Burgard said, pointing  a work addressing the Russian war in Ukraine.  It is part of the unique exhibit showcasing the talents of 883 Bay Area artists selected from 7,766 submissions.

"It's a wonderful snapshot in time of what they're thinking, feeling and, of course, the artworks themselves," said Burgard.

It is a display of artistry reflective of  contemporary social and political issues. 

There is a sculpture of Confederate General Robert E Lee.  

"Here, he's been toppled from his pedestal.  This is in reference to the toppling of all the statutes around the country," said Burgard.  

"The idea of memory, what's real, what's imagined is definitely a cornerstone of my work," said artist Jamil Nasim of Oakland.  

His "Down by the Riverside Painting" illustrates a baptism in the Black community in North Carolina, his home state. 

"In my work, I'm definitely trying to renegotiate my history as a Black person in the United States, being a descendant of enslaved people and having your history lost," said Nasim.  

Each artwork gives a voice to the person who created it.

"I use lines to express my feelings and words," said artist Sophia Lee.  

She immigrated to the United States from Taiwan when she was 9-years-old.
Lee describes her abstract painting as a blend of Chinese calligraphy and  rings, symbols of trees burnt in wildfires.

"They're ashes.  From the ashes, new life will grow," said Lee.  

The artists said there is excitement and a sense of community in having their work  be displayed with others in this special exhibit.

"Being recognized by such a prestigious institution is definitely reaffirming and it's nice to see the diversity of artists bring into this space through an open call. It's nice to be included," said Nasim.  

The exhibit is a visual feast from floor to ceiling. 

This is the de Young's second time celebrating creativity from local artists ages 18 to 87.  The first was held in September 2020 during the pandemic.

"Almost every possible style of art and subject matter  is represented in the de Young Open and it really speaks to the diversity of the art that's being made here in the Bay Area," said Burgard.  

Admission is free to Bay Area residents every Saturday. 

All artworks are available for sale and all the proceeds will go to the artist.  

This weekend, the de Young will be welcoming its 500,000th free visitor. 

The museum is urging people to visit and buy the unique artworks as holiday gifts.

The exhibit will be available through Jan. 7. 

Amber Lee is a reporter with KTVU.  Email Amber at or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on Facebook @AmberKTVU,  Instagram @AmberKTVU  or Twitter @AmberKTVU.