Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle’s “The Sower Pt. II” is on view in the annual SECA Award Exhibition at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. (Courtesy Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle)

Bold new work from SECA Award winners

Annual SFMOMA exhibition showcases Bay Area artists

By Hannah Bennett

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art recently opened its biennial SECA Art Award Exhibition, and the showcase of 2019’s awardees should not be missed.

The three winners represent a wide range of disciplines; Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle is an interdisciplinary visual artist, Marlon Mullen is a painter and Sahar Khoury is a sculptor.

Co-curated by Linde B. Lehtinen and Nancy Lim, the thoughtful, appreciative exhibition, running through April 12, is divided into three spaces, with each artist’s show in its own room.

The award was created in 1967 by the Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art (SECA) in an attempt to recognize and encourage local Bay Area artists.

Since its inception, more than 90 local artists have been honored. As a result, the award has taken on a sort of mythos. Past winners have gone on to be included in the permanent collections of SFMOMA and other storied art institutions.

Berkeley-based Hinkle’s series, called “They,” is an arresting multimedia show featuring National Geographic photographs and postcards from the 1800s of West African peoples, blown up and altered with the intent to regift the black figures their agency over their bodies. It’s a moving project that shocks the viewer into a new awareness of history.

Marlon Mullen reimagines magazine covers in his paintings; an untitled 2017 piece is pictured. (Photo courtesy Glen Cheriton, JKA Photography/Marion Mullen)

Mullen’s paintings are incredible. The artist, who is autistic and works out of NIAD (Nurturing Independence through Artistic Development) Art Center’s studios in Richmond, invites viewers to look through his eyes at popular magazine covers. His aphasia muddles words on a page and his re-creations show words as he sees them — in fits and starts and as shapes rather than as methods of communication. The exhibition reveals his stylistic evolutions throughout his considerably long career producing art.

Sahar Khoury’s 2017 “Untitled (Vase on Concrete Teddy Bears)” is part of SFMOMA’s SECA Art Award Exhibition. (Photo courtesy Becca Barolli/Sahar Khoury)

Oakland artist Khoury’s sculptures explore the idea of constraint in bold and new ways. Using traditional and unexpected materials including textiles, papier-mâché, concrete, ceramic and silk-screen, Khoury tackles the topics of constraint and power in traditional and unexpected ways. In an approach similar to Mullen’s, Khoury reimagines common ways in which power is held and communicated. A ticket window and an electric rotisserie are among the pieces that populate the jaw-dropping, memorable exhibit.


2019 SECA Art Award Exhibition

Where: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, second floor, 151 Third St., S.F.

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (except closed Wednesdays, until 3 p.m. Dec. 24 and Dec. 31, and to 9 p.m. Thursdays); closes April 12

Admission: $25 general; $22 senior (65 and older); $19 ages 19-24; free for 18 and younger

Contact: (415) 357-4000,

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