Pier 24 – Another Reason to Visit San Francisco
by Peter Zack
Located almost at the foot of the Bay Bridge is Pier 24, a privately owned, 28,000 sq.ft. photo gallery. The Pilara Photographic Collection is housed in this renovated waterfront warehouse that was formerly a space used for cargo ships docking in San Francisco. The space has been extensively renovated, retaining its original character and making it perfectly suitable to exhibit the more than 2,000 images from the private collection of Andy Pilara, the site’s owner.
Andy Pilara began collecting photographs in 2003 and has collected images from very early masters, such as Eadweard Muybridge (1830 – 1904), right up to contemporary photographers. The most recent exhibit (Sept 16, 2010 – March 10, 2011) is from the collection of Randi and Bob Fisher which includes works from Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Hilla and Bernd Becher, Robert Adams, Diane Arbus, William Eggleston and others. If the name Fisher sounds familiar, you may know that Mr Fisher is the son of Gap Inc. founder Don Fisher.
The space is unique in a number of ways. From the web site: Born out of the desire to reinvent the ways in which photography and photographic ideas are presented, Pier 24 is a distinctive environment where art has the freedom to be seen and thought about differently. It is large and considered the biggest art space in the United States devoted to only photography. “I have not seen anything like it,” says SFMOMA (San Francisco museum of Modern Art) curator of photography Sandra Phillips, who has seen every major photography repository in the Western world. “There are photography museums, but nothing so spectacular and so personal and so giving to the experience of looking at a photograph. The whole thing is truly unique.”†
It’s open to the public but with several restrictions. You must book online to get an appointment, only 20 people per visit (2 hours) are allowed in and that only after your invitation has been confirmed at the door. The gallery is not in it for the money. There is no admission fee to visit the space and promotion has been very low-key, unlike the blockbuster ‘events’ that happen at other museum and gallery spaces. The photos on exhibit do not have any descriptive information cards and many do not even indicate the artist. The only information available is a photocopied page that indicates the photographers’ names and location of various photos within the space. Gallery hours are also restricted between 10 AM till 5:15 PM, Monday to Thursday.
The idea is to have a quiet space and remove any distractions allowing the viewer to have time to make their own connections or contemplate the works on display. My impression is that you don’t find this gallery by accident, you make it a point of getting in and being there. Given what the gallery has to offer and the limited viewing times available, if you’re going to San Francisco, book your time well in advance.
On a final note, I think the Pier 24 Facebook Page is well worth a visit. They provide information on photography exhibits at numerous venues and have a spot to subscribe to upcoming events on the extended info page.
Cheers and good shooting
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Tags: California, Exhibition, Photo exhibit, Photography, Pier 24, Robert Frank, San Francisco