SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- For San Francisco artist Ken Sakatani, art is often about freedom and inclusion, or the lack of it. They're ideas expressed both in his work and, now, in a unique exhibition.
"So I thank the de Young for taking that risk because it is a risk for them to put it out there and say, okay, you know, we have a community here," he said.
Sakatani joined hundreds of Bay Area artists who submitted their work for an exhibition called the "de Young Open." The floor-to-ceiling format recalls the famous salon exhibitions in 19th-century Paris that sparked democratic debate about a changing art scene, including the emerging Impressionists.
Sakatani's painting is titled "Closed Till Further Notice." He says it was inspired by the World War II internment saga of a Japanese American family that was uprooted from their home and job of tending to the nearby Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park.
"And they never when they came back, they never were able to, you know, live in their family home again, which had been promised to them originally. So, that sort of that injustice if you will, that sort of inspired me," Sakatani said.
And in this exhibit, inspiration comes from nearly every walk of life. Close to 900 works line the walls -- like neighbors in a crowded apartment building -- leaving visitors to peer through the windows.
"Every style and subject you could possibly imagine is represented in the 'de Young Open.' It took nearly the entire staff to organize it. And one of the artists said it's a giant love letter to the people of the Bay Area," said Curator Timothy Anglin Burgard.
He says the exhibit is also a deliberate departure from the high-profile exhibits the de Young is known for.
"I think that 'de Young Open' really represents a big paradigm shift from traditional perceptions of museums as guardians and gatekeepers of culture to a much more democratic model that really foregrounds the voices and visions of local artists," Anglin Burgard said.
And with styles and sensibilities flowing in every direction, visitors are left to judge for themselves. For Ken Sakatani and his fellow Bay Area artists, it's also a chance to be seen and appreciated as a community.
"I just encourage anybody that goes to the exhibit that they sort of give them time to it because it's so much artwork, Sakatani said.
It's ultimately a rich and raucous tour of the Bay Area's diverse art world. And in that democratic spirit, the museum is offering free Saturday admission to the de Young Open, which runs through the first week of January.
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