press release

Embark Gallery Presents "This Is A Test"

Four emerging artists present experimental work in Dada-inspired exhibition

Mengmeng Lu. Test 3*3, 2017. Digital photography.

Mengmeng Lu. Test 3*3, 2017. Digital photography.

Every Tuesday at noon the test of the emergency broadcast system echoes over San Francisco “This is a test. This is only a test.” Both ominous in a dystopian sense and reassuring in it’s reliable repetition, the siren and accompanying voice have become an emblem for this show, in which four emerging artists present experimental works that try and try again. As the original Dadaists turned to absurdity to protest the politics of their time, these artists trouble contemporary systems of logic through trial-and-error artmaking, ultimately presenting new possibilities for the “purpose” of art, and all the while documenting the process.

Mengmeng Lu (SFAI) exhibits a playful photographic series inspired by Eadweard Muybridge’s Horse In Motion. Whittling down identity to a cyborg-like character that she then applies to different models whilst simultaneously referencing this historical modernist achievement, Lu breaks down barriers of time and history. The work questions the threshold between “life” and “lifelike” and these double images act essentially as a performance of the artist’s own psyche, tested upon different bodies.

Judit Navratil (CCA) shares with us her long-distance somersault career, which is part of an ongoing project in which she inhabits different characters and travels to various locations to practice her craft. The rolling is a meditative practice, forcing the artist to accept and adapt to what lies ahead. Yet it also a demonstration of futility, akin to a hamster spinning in a wheel. It is in the superfluous and amusing qualities of this simple act that Navratil finds freedom.

Oberon Strong. ALL FALLS DOWN, 2017. VHS/digital video, 5 min 49 sec. Still.

Oberon Strong. ALL FALLS DOWN, 2017. VHS/digital video, 5 min 49 sec. Still.

Oberon Strong (SFSU) is an experimental filmmaker whose work explores the queer body and otherness. Strong’s work draws upon the aesthetics and technologies of their childhood to create a queer dystopia, in direct challenge to a utopia in which the hero overcomes repressive social constructs. The deconstructed qualities of the work aim to show that gender has no form or content, and embraces indefinability.

Cristina Velazquez (SFAI) will perform live in the gallery with an iteration of These Flags, a performance that challenges divisions made by Nationalism and invented borders. Questioning the rhetoric of a country that stands “united” during an actually extremely divisive presidential administration, Velazquez’s performance is a metaphorical action for peace that is ultimately futile, as the artist acknowledges such a utopian state will probably never be realized.


This exhibition was juried by Micki Meng of Altman Siegel Gallery and Clea Massiani of Bass & Reiner.

Press Previews by appointment.

Opening Reception: November 10, 2017. 6-9pm

Hours: 12–5pm every Saturday and Sunday, November 11 - December 16

Media Contact: Angelica Jardini, Curatorial Director

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Embark Gallery Opens “Humor US” Exhibition

For Immediate Release

August 25, 2016

Humor US features seven artists using levity to address political issues in the run up to the 2016 elections

Nathan Becka. Civility Pedal, 2015

Nathan Becka. Civility Pedal, 2015

Humor US will be on view from September 9-October 22, 2016, with an opening reception on September 9 from 5-9pm. This exhibition considers philosopher John Morreall’s definition of humor as “amusement that takes pleasure in a cognitive shift.” Indeed, much of what we find laughable also allows us to think differently about people, ideas, and states of being. Yet, in light of the current election season, humor can also function as an aggressive act of power and cause destructive effects. The graduate students featured in Humor US utilize comicality as a medium to reflect on the world outside of academia in the new upcoming presidential tenure. Through installations, videos, and photographs embedded with wittiness, the artists display personal experiences of disenfranchisement, criticisms regarding the American Dream, and platforms for positive social and political change made possible by the simplicity of simply listening to one another.

Jin Zhu. El Requerimiento, 2015, video.

Jin Zhu. El Requerimiento, 2015, video.

Jin Zhu’s video piece sets the tone for the exhibition by providing viewers with a historical context and well-trodden path associated with Western politics––the disruption and marginalization of the “other” by the white male.  Douglas Angulo's video piece, and his deafening stare within it, builds on Zhu’s concepts and asks us to take a hard look inward to consider how we form and project identity, and construct misconceptions of identity. The work of France Viana and Hui Meng Wang question what it means to step in and out of traditional and individual identity in a photographic exploration and video piece, respectively. Viana searches for answers in the neighborhoods of Filipino Americans and confronts their political values. In a satirical commentary on the emerging Chinese middle class, Wang’s video investigates the disconnection between their idealized lifestyle and actual reality that is increasingly shaped by the political and social interests of the West.  Nathan Becka's objects and the installation of Kaitlin Trataris mock the blind acceptance that follows campaign endorsements and empty promises given by both powerful figures and everyday citizens simply due to the chase of the American Dream. Finally, it is Boris Scherbakov’s sound installations that presents viewers with some answers while grappling with the current political elections: to truly embrace our everyday surroundings and focus on conversations that lead to greater cultural and political understanding.

This exhibition is curated by Tanya Gayer (CCA), whose proposal was selected in Embark's recent call for curatorial proposals from Bay Area graduate students.

Artists in this exhibition include: Douglas Angulo (SFAI), Nathan Becka (CCA), Boris Scherbakov (Mills), Kaitlin Trataris (SFAI), France Viana (Mills), Hui Meng Wang (SFAI), Jin Zhu (UC Berkeley).

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Opening Reception: Friday, September 9th, 5-9pm

Open Hours: Saturdays, September 10th-October 22nd, 12-5pm or by appointment during the week

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Following Humor US, the exhibition #simulacra will be on view from November 5th to December 17th, 2016. For this exhibition, artists were asked to submit works that the increasingly visual culture we live in where images are all-important, and are no longer mere representations of truth. This photography show, juried by Julie Casemore and Allie Haeusslein, is an exploration of reality vs model, signs, place, and memory.

From January 28th to March 4th, 2016 the gallery will host Get Lost, an exhibition inspired by philosopher Herbert Marcuse's notion of "the great refusal.” Get Lost showcases contemporary takes on queer identity politics by challenging the representational imagery that queer art is perhaps best known for suggesting that queer activism in the digital age may take more nuanced forms of expression.This exhibition was juried by Avram Finkelstein.

Embark Gallery, a 1,500 sq. ft. non-profit art space that opened in February 2015 and located in Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture, helps create and support an engaged community of young artists, curators and scholars during their studies and as they leave their graduate programs. We assist students to embark on their professional careers, while expanding the audience for up and coming contemporary art. The gallery represents the diversity of the talented artists studying at eight local art institutions including California College of the Arts, Mills College, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco State University, San Jose State University, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley and University of California, Davis.

For more info go to


Media Contact:

Tania Houtzager


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Embark Gallery Opens at Fort Mason Center to Support Bay Area MFA Students

First Exhibition Features Eight Artists Considering the Theme of Embarkation

(artist rendering)

(artist rendering)

On February 20, 2015, San Francisco’s newest art gallery will open at Fort Mason Center. Embark Gallery, a 1,500 sq. ft. non-profit art space supported by the Kabouter Foundation, provides exhibition opportunities to graduate students in Fine Arts in the San Francisco Bay Area, fosters an environment for an engaged community of artists, curators and scholars, and expands the audience for up and coming contemporary art. The gallery represents the diversity of the talented artists studying at seven local art institutions including California College of the Arts, Mills College, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco State University, San Jose State University, Stanford University, and University of California, Berkeley.

Bimonthly juried exhibitions will be held at the newly renovated space in the Fort Mason Center’s Building B. The gallery will host opening receptions for each exhibition and also provide the artists with professionally published catalogs. Embark Gallery will be open to the public the opening weekend of every exhibition and then by appointment only.

On view from February 20 to March 22, 2015, the inaugural exhibition titled Embark relates to the physical location of the gallery. Housed in the historic Fort Mason Center, once called the San Francisco Port of Embarkation, the very architecture of the Embark gallery is imbued with the spirit of the 1.6 million passengers who came to Fort Mason to commence voyages into the unknown. Artists were asked to submit works of any media pertaining to the theme of embarkation: the inception of change, beginning anew, and journeys of any kind. Whether the understanding of “Embark” was narrative, philosophical, abstract or otherwise, artists were encouraged to provide innovative submissions with exploration and risk-taking in mind. This exhibition includes work in all media from artists including Bobby Anspach, Matt Smith Chavez, Jose Figueroa, Matthew Goldberg, Omar Mismar, Jacqueline Norheim, Michelle Ott, and Courtney Sennish.

Student applications were reviewed and selected by a jury of experienced and knowledgeable local art professionals. The first three shows were selected by Julie Lazar, independent curator and founder of ICANetwork, conceptual and performance artist Michael Zheng and Embark Gallery Director Angelica Jardini with support from Catharine Clark, owner and director of Catharine Clark GalleryThis jury panel will also select the artists for the two subsequent exhibitions, What Grows Here and Perception.

Jardini says, “As a graduate of the Master’s program in the History and Theory of Contemporary Art at SFAI, I valued the collaborative exploration of ideas there among peers. As Director of Embark Gallery, I am excited to facilitate similar dialogues that extend beyond isolated institutions to expand conceptions of what contemporary art is in the Bay Area, and what it can be.

Gallery founder Tania Houtzager comments, “I’m so excited to introduce Embark Gallery to the art scene in San Francisco. With decreasing numbers of commercial galleries and art spaces in the Bay Area, especially those that showcase student art, Embark is an opportunity to support the art schools and vast community of artists at the very beginning of their careers. Fort Mason is the perfect location for our gallery with the arts and cultural community already here, its a dynamic center for creativity and innovation.”

Fort Mason Center Executive Director Rich Hillis adds, “For nearly four decades, the Fort Mason Center has provided an affordable home for the arts in San Francisco. We are proud to support Embark Gallery and are enthralled at this opening as we continue to create a home for the next generation of San Franciscan artists here.”

Following Embark, the exhibition What Grows Here will be on view from April 10 to May 25, 2015. For this exhibition, artists were asked to submit works that engage with the exhibition Fertile Ground: Art and Community in California on view through April 12 at the Oakland Museum—artwork as varied and diverse as California itself. Topics include local or personal histories, California style, past or current political issues, the ever-changing landscape, and art that engages with contemporary California culture.

From June 12 to July 26, 2015 the gallery will host Perception, an exhibition that highlights the diverse possibilities of a specific medium, in this case performance and installation, with the goal of showcasing work that explores the relationship between the environment and the artist and how shifts in one might change the other.

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Media Contacts:

Libby Garrison                        Carolyn Nickell           


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Embark is a not for profit gallery funded by the Kabouter Foundation, a private not for profit registered in California. Kabouter Foundation also supports, the world’s #1 resource for salacious, sizzling, art history news. Kabouter is a Dutch word which means gnome.

For more than 35 years Fort Mason Center has served as a unique destination in San  Francisco, hosting arts and cultural events, organizations, and programs in a historic campus along San Francisco’s scenic northern waterfront. It is an extraordinary example of repurposing former military land and buildings for contemporary uses, including museums, performance spaces, and a vibrant schedule of art and cultural exhibitions and events. Each year the Fort Mason Center provides more than $2.2 million in grants to local arts groups like Embark Gallery. With more than 1 million annual visitors, the Fort Mason Center is one of the highest attended arts and cultural organizations in the Bay Area. For more information, visit or call (415) 345-7530.

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