Fraenkel Gallery Gets Back to Its Roots

A beloved San Francisco art space opens an experimental lab that will allow them to keep it weird.

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When Fraenkel Gallery was founded in 1979, specializing in photography was seen as a far riskier move than it is today. As early champions of photographers like Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand, and Christian Marclay, the gallery has seen its roster gain in stature while growing a formidable name for itself in the process. With a higher profile come new challenges. "We have a full exhibition schedule here, but what do we do when we see an interesting [contemporary] piece?" asks gallery president Frish Brandt. "You think, 'I want to show that to people—and if someone won't bring it to my city, maybe I should.'"

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That is the guiding principle behind FraenkelLab, a new experimental space aimed at bringing the gallery back to its roots. As Brandt explains, "It's returning to contemporary art as our original mission." On the docket: exhibitions featuring Vincent Fecteau, Richard T. Walker, and the collaborative group Gelitin—all of whom deal in innovative takes on multimedia art.

Beginning tonight, FraenkelLab is offering a five-day preview of its new program in its new Hayes Valley storefront on Market Street, which will pick up again regularly in April. Video artist Oliver Beer's Reanimation (Snow White) will play in the window nightly from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., concurrent with the third annual Fog Design+Art fair (featuring exhibitions from New York powerhouses like Matthew Marks, Maccarone, and Marian Goodman for the first time). The strikingly colorful video work appropriates the story and imagery of Snow White, pairing an animation of children's drawings with a psychedelic take on the 1937 Disney film's iconic song, "Someday My Prince Will Come."

The eye-catching art is sure to attract the attention of passersby going to and from neighborhood favorites Zuni, Rich Table, and Cala—and the message Brandt hopes to convey to those viewers is simple: "Here's an artist you don't know. Here's a space you don't know. Come on back."

Reanimation (Snow White) will be on view through Sunday, January 17, at FraenkelLab, 1632 Market Street. The gallery will open with regular programming in mid-April.

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