Rise Up! Social Justice in Art from the Collection of J. Michael Bewley

Robert Arneson
Five Times for Harvey, 1982
Mixed media on paper
30 × 24 inches
Gift of J. Michael Bewley
©Estate of Robert Arneson, 2018, licensed by VAGA, New York, New York.

Kara Walker
African/American, 1998
49 × 60 ½ inches
Collection of J. Michael Bewley
© Kara Walker, courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York.

Alison Saar
Deluge, 2016
Wood, ceiling tin, and cast iron
68 × 64 × 70 inches
Collection of J. Michael Bewley

Robert Arneson
I’m looking for you, Whitey, 1989
Latex, enamel, acrylic, oil stick on paper
72 × 51 ¾ inches
Collection of J. Michael Bewley

Luis Cruz Azaceta
The Scream, 1987
Lithograph on paper
48 ¾ × 35 ¾ inches
Gift of J. Michael Bewley

Friday, June 8, 2018Sunday, September 30, 2018

On November 27, 1978, San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk—California’s first openly gay elected official—was shot five times. The assassination and its traumatic and charged aftermath were still raw some ten years later when J. Michael Bewley, an employment lawyer in San José, walked into the backroom of a San Francisco gallery and saw Five Times for Harvey (1982), a suite of drawings by American sculptor and painter Robert Arneson (1930–1992) that boldly narrates Milk’s political life and legend. Though unlike the artworks Bewley had been acquiring over the past two years, Five Times for Harvey went home with him and dramatically altered the course of his collecting over the next three decades.

In 2016, Bewley generously donated Arneson’s work to SJMA along with eleven other significant pieces, many of which will be on view for the first time (alongside selections from his personal collection) in Rise Up! These works of art embody the value system of their collector. They explore issues that resonate with current political movements such as Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, and the contemporary LGBTQ movement.

Bold figurative expression of identity unites paintings, prints, sculptures, and textiles by Robert Arneson, Sadie Barnette, Squeak Carnwath, Enrique Chagoya, Dorothy Cross, Luis Cruz Azaceta, Lesley Dill, Marlene Dumas, George Grosz, Wangechi Mutu, Chris Ofili, Tino Rodriguez, Alison Saar, Mickalene Thomas, and Kara Walker. Resilience and radicalism resound through these powerful works. Collectively, they issue a call to action—rise up!

Organized by Kathryn Wade, curatorial associate.

For Freedoms Reading Library book list

Exhibition Catalog


The many faces of Harvey Milk on display at SJMA, SF Chronicle (SFGate)
September 28, 2018