Art week shines as S.F. artists recover from weather’s wallop

Tony Bravo, SF Chronicle, January 22, 2023
Jenkins Johnson Gallery booth featured Dewey Crumpler. The San Francisco artist — who has been back in the news since 2019 because of his mural “Multi-Ethnic Heritage,” a response to Victor Arnautoff’s controversial frescoes in “Life of George Washington” at George Washington High School — showcased his work from the 1990s, inspired by an experience visiting the Keukenhof Gardens in Amsterdam and seeing an overwhelming display of tulips.

“I immediately saw them not as flowers but as memory,” Crumpler said. “They were related to the history of capitalism and commerce and used all over the Western world as currency. I saw that as similar to what happens when you use human bodies as currency and you create a capitalism structure around the movement of those bodies.”


Seen on their own, the works feel like exuberant bursts of abstraction, beautiful like the tulips and yet, more complicated. With Crumpler’s explanation, they took on an altogether different meaning. It was an interaction that underscored the importance of seeing and experiencing art in the company of artists — and why San Francisco must continue to support them all year, not just in times of crisis.