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Sartle Caught Day-Tripping at SFMOMA

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The brand spankin’ new redesign has haters, sure, but we think it’s seven heavenly floors of artistic bliss [NOTE to SFMOMA: can I have free tickets now??]

We keep a relaxed vibe at the Sartle office. Sure, there’s a pretty strict “wear pants, Clayton, or you have to go home” policy during working hours, but we also agree that life’s about enjoying art and pugs, preferably at the same time. Why would Sartle go through the trouble of digging up all the dirt about these artworks with animals or mustaches (and pretty much any other topic you can imagine) if we didn’t like to cut loose and have some fun? In that spirit, we played a little hooky and took a day trip across the city to one of the best spots in the Bay for art, culture, and one helluva fried chicken bánh mi: SFMOMA.

It was almost noon by the time we finished braving the traffic and fog to reach our billowy downtown creative refuge. At the risk of missing out on some of the art (we did have a little bit of actual work to do), we gave in to the panging cries from our stomachs and foraged for nourishment. A trek up to Cafe 5 (spoiler alert: it’s on the fifth floor) permitted a lovely pre-rush lunch in the sculpture garden. The crowd favorite, by far, was the hearty, crunchy fried chicken bánh mi. 

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Honesty time: I took the side of pickles like a shot #noregrets.

Lucky for us, the sculpture garden had some gobsmacking pieces we couldn’t resist sharing. For instance…

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Czara z Babelkami by Ursula von Rydingsvard

Von Rydingsvard is a monumental sculptor based out of NYC who uses cedar, as pictured above, and other materials to examine the meeting of human-made and natural objects. One of her claims to fame is infusing these sculptures with her own haunting personal history; Van Rydingsvard was a child during the Third Reich and toiled throughout adolescence in the Nazi’s slave-labor camps. Czara z Babelkami itself was inspired by the sleeve of a beloved sweater that von Rydingsvard clung to for comfort throughout her ordeal under the Nazis and then, after the war, in refugee camps.

Another eye catcher was No Pain by Robert Arneson, whose Cali-centric sculptures are usually one part stoner-chic and two parts wry wit. No Pain, however, treads lightly into a darker place.

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No Pain, by Robert Arneson

Here, Arneson offers a self-portrait from the midst of chemo treatment for cancer which might have been exacerbated or directly caused by the chemicals used in his art. Maybe his noggin is giving a pain-induced wince, maybe it’s a grimacing shrug, maybe there isn’t really a difference when you’re facing life’s final curtain call. Neither work is in Sartle (yet!) but keep a weather eye out to our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for updates.

Of course, this post could approach the length of a book if I kept jawing on about all my favorites from their collection. The Chuck Close portraits astonished, the Lichtensteins dazzled, and one notably fruitful sculpture from Oldenburg and van Bruggen just made me hungry again.

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Geometric Apple Core, by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, with some bonus paintings by Lichtenstein to boot.

Our time exhausted, and emails beckoning us back to reality, the Sartle team departed for Fort Mason. But how could we leave without a little bit of gift shop booty? Answer: We couldn’t. Books, coffee mugs, and hats fell captive to our gluttonous whims. The best thing is there’ll be new stuff to tempt a purchase in whatever next glorious exhibition rolls through. No worries though, Sartle will return then, and again, and again.

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Cheers to that.

By: Clayton

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Clayton Schuster

Sr. Contributor

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