Before the opening of dueling fairs in San Francisco this week, in the form of FOG Design+Art and Untitled, art types turned to bowling (and all the conspicuous eating and drinking that goes along with it). In what has become an annual tradition, Fraenkel Gallery—a long-running San Francisco shop devoted to photography since 1979—held a pre-fair party at Mission Bowling Club for a crowd of seasoned locals and visitors delighted to find a bowling alley with a cocktail list boasting ingredients like pickled vermouth and fermented nori bitters.
For the event, which was co-presented with David Zwirner gallery (in town this week to deal at both FOG and Untitled), John Waters was in attendance talking about the finer points of art magazines and all the different kinds of publications he subscribes to (he used to take 150, he said, though now he’s down to around 100). Other guests included collector Carla Emil, whose newly launched endeavor C-Project brings performance projects to Fog City, as well as San Francisco Chronicle art critic Charles Desmarais, Nion McEvoy (the Chronicle Books publisher whose McEvoy Foundation for the Arts is housed in town at the Minnesota Street Project), and Thomas P. Campbell, the recently installed director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, who could be seen dining on delicious fried chicken bits designed to be eaten by hand.
On the scoreboards above the bowling lanes was an intriguing sight: an accounting of successful (and less successful) frames, attributed to artists affiliated in some capacity with Fraenkel and Zwirner. What a wonder to look up and see digital tributes to Judd, Calle, Koons, Hujar, LeWitt, Sugi (short for the great Hiroshi Sugimoto), and many more.
Between turns on the lanes, Frish Brandt, Fraenkel Gallery’s president, said the bowling party started as a staff retreat that transformed into a holiday party and then an occasion that slid down the calendar so as to greet all sundry in San Francisco for the fairs. “It’s so democratizing, and it’s so much fun,” she said. “It’s ridiculous to throw a 15-pound ball down a shiny lane. If Fred Flintstone could do it, we can do it.”
She continued, while looking out over an assembly of experts and aficionados aligned with art: “We’re all so practiced in this other thing, but we can let our hair down and change our shoes.” Even more, she said, “We can all wear the same shoes.”