Arts & Theater

Here’s your 2018 museum preview for Sacramento and the Bay Area

“Feeding Chickens,” by E. Charlton Fortune
“Feeding Chickens,” by E. Charlton Fortune Jesse Bravo

A major show of works by internationally known Northern California painter Wayne Thiebaud from a crucial early period in his career tops the list of exciting shows that will open in the Sacramento Valley in the New Year. Also on tap will be a celebration of works by outstanding women artists E. Charlton Fortune, Faith Ringgold and Corita Kent, who faced discrimination in their time. A rich menu of enticing shows in the Bay Area includes an exclusive exhibition of rare works by the preeminent surrealist Rene Magritte; an exhibition devoted to precisionist works by Charles Sheeler and Charles Demuth, who were inspired by machine aesthetics; a look at the world of notorious 18th century seducer Giacomo Casanpva through paintings and decorative arts from the period; a groundbreaking show of works by California Jewish artists; and a monumental show of works by Bay Area artists from precontact times to the present.

Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at UC Davis, 254 Old Davis Road, Davis, 530-752-8500,

Jan. 16 to May 13: “Wayne Thiebaud: 1958-1968.” The first museum exhibition devoted to the emergence of Thiebaud’s mature work features more than 60 paintings, several rarely exhibited, from the Manetti Shrem collection, private collections and museums around the country. Described as “an overnight sensation a decade in the making” by Manetti Shrem founding Director Rachel Teagle, Thiebaud shot from relative obscurity to national prominence as he refined his singular sensibility. Admission is free.

Crocker Art Museum, 216 O St., Sacramento, 916-808-7000,

Jan. 28 to April 22: “E. Charlton Fortune:The Colorful Spirit.” The largest show ever of California’s most progressive early 20th century women artists, features 85 works by Fortune, a Monterey-based plein-air painter and nationally known ecclesiastical designer, whose bold, vigorous paintings were often thought to be done by a man.

Feb. 18 to May 13: “Faith Ringgold: An American Artist.” This dynamic exhibition features more than 40 examples of story quilts, prints, oil paintings, drawings, masks, soft sculptures and book illustrations by a renowned African American woman artist and activist who has championed equality, freedom of speech, and increased opportunities for women and artists of color.

Feb. 25 to May 13: “Corita Kent’s Heavenly Pop.” Nearly 30 silkscreen prints chronicle the most productive period of Kent, a nun, printmaker and social justice activist who brought a striking pop sensibility to religious art that combined images and words to create bold and joyous messages.

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, 2129 Oxford St., #2550, Berkeley. 510-642-0808,

Jan. 17 to May 6: “Way Bay.” This sweeping exhibition explores the remarkable creative energies that emerged from the Bay Area from precolonial times to today through more than 200 works – paintings, prints, photographs, films and poetry – by acclaimed artists such as Richard Diebenkorn and Joan Brown, as well as lesser known ones.

Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., San Francisco, 415-655-7800.

Feb. 22 to July 29: “Contraption: Rediscovering California Jewish Artists.” This revelatory show features 16 Jewish artists who have contributed to California’s artistic reputation, among them contemporary artists, Bernie Lubell and Bella Feldman; 20th century “City-as-Machine” cubist, Boris Deautsch; surreal social realist, Irving Norman; and UC Davis ceramic sculptor, Annabeth Rosen.

Legion of Honor, Lincoln Park, 100 34th Ave., San Francisco, 415-750-3600,

Feb. 10 to May 28. “Casanova: The Seduction of Europe.” Travel, courtship, theatre and the pleasures of dining are among the themes explored in this vibrant exhibition that explores the 18th century through the eyes of legendary adventurer, seducer and lover, Giacomo Casanova (1725-1798). Approximately 90 works from paintings by Francois Boucher and Jean Honore Fragonard and sculpture by Jean-Antoine Houdon to period decorative arts will be included, along with three tableaux with costumed mannequins that reflect social aspects of the period.

De Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Drive, San Francisco, 415-750-3600,

March 24 to Aug. 12: “Cult of the Machine: Precisionism and American Art.” The first large-scale exhibition in over 20 years to survey the characteristically American style of early 20th century modernism with a machine age aesthetic embraced by artists, designers and the public in the 1920s and 1930s. This major show includes works by Charles Sheeler, Georgia O’Keeffe and Charles Demuth; important photos and film clips from the era; plus a vintage Cord Phaeton automobile.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third St., San Francisco, 415-357-4000,

May 18 to Oct. 28: “Rene Magritte: The Fifth Season.” Exclusive, world-class exhibition focusing on the consummate surrealist’s late work, from approximately 1943 to 1967, through more than 50 paintings and 12 gouaches that reflect the instability and upheaval of World War II and the occupation of Belgium. Unlike his earlier, more light-hearted work, these late often disturbing paintings reflect Magritte’s creation of a world beyond rationality and outside the accepted conventions of time and space in a darker way.