2/22/24: Modern Farm and Magic: Bonnie Ora Sherk and 1970s San Francisco

Screening and discussion of the work of artist Bonnie Ora Sherk, featuring curators Tanya Zimbardo and Steve Seid.

Watch the full replay of the 2/22/24 event here.

This virtual screening/discussion presented the work of Bonnie Ora Sherk (1945-2021), presented in conjunction with an exhibition of her work at San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture (on view through March 10). Featuring a discussion with the exhibition’s curator Tanya Zimbardo and Steve Seid (retired curator, Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive), this event explored Sherk’s intersections with San Francisco’s early video scene and discussed her lesser-known archive of video recordings of the environmental education and multi-arts nonprofit Crossroads Community (the farm) that she founded and directed from 1974-1980. The Farm was one of the significant alternative artist-run spaces in that era.

Sherk was a pioneering, internationally recognized American artist, landscape architect, and environmental educator. Decades ahead of her time, she is now recognized as a key figure among the first generation of Conceptual Art and performance artists in California and the alternative or artist-run space movement of that era. The theme that runs through all Sherk’s work is the interdependent relationships between humans, animals, and nature. Her work has only grown in stature in the past decade, as her legacy can be seen in both the art world and in community-oriented efforts at sustainable food practices, environmental restoration, and the preservation of shared public spaces.

Steve Seid was a media curator at the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive for twenty-five years. During that time, he presented almost a thousand public programs, featuring experimental media, forgotten film genres, and a sampling of international cinema. He also helped build the PFA’s collection, particularly video art and personal cinemas from the Bay Area. Notable would be the restoration of Steven Arnold’s Luminous Procuress (1971) and poet ruth weiss’s only film effort, The Brink (1961). Seid has also been involved with several publications, most importantly, Radical Light: Alternative Film & Video in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1945-2000, co-edited with Steve Anker and Kathy Geritz; Ant Farm 1968-1978, co-edited with Constance Lewallen; and his recent solo effort, Media Burn: Ant Farm and the Making of An Image.

Tanya Zimbardo is a contemporary art curator based in San Francisco. As an assistant curator of media arts at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, she has curated solo exhibitions of work by Jim Campbell, Runa Islam, Pat O’Neill, and Kerry Tribe, as well as the two-person and group exhibitions Speculative Portraits Future Histories: Theaster Gates and Cauleen Smith; Soundtracks; Ragnar Kjartansson: The Visitors; and Susan Philipsz: Songs Sung in the First Person on Themes of Longing, Sympathy and Release, are currently on view at SFMOMA. Zimbardo featured Sherk in group exhibitions she co-curated at SFMOMA (Fifty Years of Bay Area Art: The SECA Awards) and at Mills College Art Museum (Public Works: Artists’ Interventions 1970s – Now). Over the past decade, Zimbardo has featured artists associated with Bay Area Conceptual art, performance, and experimental media in exhibitions and screenings at nonprofit art venues including di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art (Equilibrium: A Paul Kos Survey) and The 500 Capp Street Foundation (Organic Logic).

Bonnie Ora Sherk at work on The Farm.
Bonnie Ora Sherk at work on The Farm.



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