Remember when SFMOMA’s reopening was still hundreds of days away? The time just flew by and now their countdown clock is in its tweens. On May 14, SFMOMA reopens as one of the largest museums in the land.

If you didn’t snag tickets for the museum’s opening day, it’s still worth a visit to Third Street and the surrounding neighborhood on that Saturday; nearby institutions like Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Museum of the African Diaspora, the Contemporary Jewish Museum and the California Historical Society are getting in the celebratory spirit by opening their doors for free.

If — perhaps wisely — you choose to wait for the crowds to thin a bit before braving a visit to bigger, better SFMOMA, there’s plenty of good competition for your attention in the coming month.

Suné Woods, 'Landings,' 2015.
Suné Woods, ‘Landings,’ 2015. (Courtesy of SF Camerawork)

Suné Woods, 2016 Baum Award for an Emerging American Photographer

SF Camerawork, San Francisco
May 5 – June 25

Los Angeles-based artist Suné Woods is this year’s recipient of the Baum Award, a bi-annual prize given to “an artist of exceptional talent working in the medium of photography.” Woods’ collage works blend images of cosmic and natural beauty with Black hands and fingers, disembodied. Extracting these images from their initial contexts (travel and geographic books and magazines), Woods seeks, according to her most recent exhibition at Papillon, to identify the social phenomena “that indoctrinate brutality and hatred.” FREE!

Yin-Ju Chen, Video still from the multimedia installation 'Extrastellar Evaluations,' 2016.
Yin-Ju Chen, Video still from the multimedia installation ‘Extrastellar Evaluations,’ 2016. (Courtesy the artist)

Yin-Ju Chen, Extrastellar Evaluations

Kadist, San Francisco
May 11 – June 25

Taipei-based artist Yin-Ju Chen wraps up her four-month residency at San Francisco’s Kadist with an exhibition investigating the lost continent of Lemuria, a subterranean alien civilization believed (in some esoteric corners) to still exist deep beneath Mount Shasta, CA. In Chen’s adoption of the mythology, minimalist artists of the 20th century like Carl Andre, Mel Bochner and James Turrell are Lemurians; their cubes, monoliths and interventions into the landscape, understood by humans as art, are actually communication tools created to report back on humanity. Revisiting the turbulent 1960s through the lens of an alien intelligence, Chen presents archival photographic and video materials alongside objects created by modern-day Lemurians. FREE!

Otobong Nkanga, 'Contained Measures of a Kolanut: Kola hands,' 2012.
Otobong Nkanga, ‘Contained Measures of a Kolanut: Kola hands,’ 2012. (Courtesy of the artist)

Otobong Nkanga, MATRIX 260

Various locations, Berkeley
May 11, 7:30pm & May 14, 1-5pm

The first MATRIX Program for Contemporary Art to take place in the new BAMPFA goes to Nigerian-born, Antwerp-based artist Otobong Nkanga. In From Where I Stand (May 11 at BAMPFA), a brand new performance, she engages with the history and legacy of colonial European mining in Africa. And in Contained Measures of a Kolanut (May 14 at the Tropical House, UC Botanical Garden) she sits for four hours at tables arrayed with diagrams, maps and images exploring associations with the kolanut, engaging participants in conversation about this bitter nut indigenous to tropical African rainforests. For tickets and more information visit bampfa.org.

All the feels.
All the feels. (Courtesy Southern Exposure)

Real Feels and Rollercoasters

Southern Exposure, San Francisco
May 19 – 28

The student artists of Southern Exposure’s Artists in Education (AIE) programs take over the entirety of the Mission District gallery space with one of the best-titled shows of all time. Real Feels and Rollercoasters includes the work of participants in four of the organization’s AIE programs addressing the issues (and real feels) relevant to their lives. See what the next generation of Bay Area artists are up to! Also: FREE.

Weston Teruya at work in the Recology studios.
Weston Teruya at work in the Recology studios. (Courtesy of Recology)

Recology San Francisco Artist in Residence Exhibitions: Work by Kate Rhoades, Weston Teruya and Cristina Velázquez

Recology, San Francisco
May 20, 5-9pm; May 21, 1-3pm; May 24, 5-7pm

After four months of scavenging materials from the Recology dump, resident artists Kate Rhoades, Weston Teruya and Cristina Velázquez present three solo exhibitions over the course of one weekend. Rhoades’ video project Karen reimagines the Junk Lady from the film Labyrinth as a main character with a complicated backstory of her own. Teruya’s The Space Left Behind uses only paper to create precarious sculptures tied to the Bay Area’s equally precarious housing crisis. And Velázquez reclaims fabric into playful biomorphic sculptures in Enajenaciones. FREE!

Artful Dodger: Maximize Your May With Visual Art Happenings 28 April,2016Sarah Hotchkiss

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Sarah Hotchkiss

Sarah Hotchkiss is KQED Arts’ Visual Arts Editor, an artist and co-founder of Stairwell’s. Follow her at @sahotchkiss.

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