The new BAMPFA, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive and part of the University of California, Berkeley opened on January 28th. With events, celebrations, and crowds last weekend, I decided to visit on a Thursday afternoon. Having the new space to myself would feel extravagant and wonderful. Traversing the space with the ability to breathe amongst stunning architecture and art vistas is the perfect gift. However a surprise, the first Thursday of each month is free and very busy!
From the BAMPFA website: “The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is the visual arts center of the University of California, Berkeley. Our mission is to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through art and film. We aspire to be locally connected and globally relevant, engaging audiences from the campus, community, and beyond.” Mission accomplished.
The museum was active with visitors of diverse ages and backgrounds. Art had done its job by bringing together the community and encouraging discussion. The World Garden, a large mural by Chinese artist Qiu Zhijie, showcases gardens from earth. The museum designed by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro repurposed a 1939 UC printing plant with intense sophistication. The tall sweeping spaces seem grand but intimate.
Female artists dominated my favorite art picks. Hyun-Sook Song’s 2 Brushstrokes proved once again that less is more. Meanwhile, Ruth Asawa’s lines, forms, and shadows captured my admiration. Louise Bourgeois was wonderfully represented and proved why she is one of the greats. Around the corner, Rosie Lee Tompkin’s quilt embodies abstraction perfection.
The sculptural assemblage of Al Taylor was a puzzle that used light and wood as its main players. It provided the same sanctuary as a 14th century Seated Buddha from Tibet. Both pieces meditated and observed.
Not a bad day at the museum. Berkeley should be proud. In fact, the San Francisco Bay Area should be. The new BAMPFA is masterful, thoughtful, beautiful, and a vision worth visiting for many years to come.