Closed for Installation

Closed for Installation

Dave Christensen, Director of Harvey Milk Photo Center
Osvaldo Ruiz, Sr. Lighting Technician Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Exhibit Dates:
Sept 21, 2020 – Jan 10, 2021


Jorge Bachman
Al Barna
Arie Knoops
Jason Lemkuil

Shana Muwwakkil
Raychel Severance
Tristan Telander
Arlo Valera

Several years have gone into this long-awaited collaborative project, which we are pleased to now present virtually. Such fascination has always held my deepest attention to what happens behind a set or scene, and in this case, galleries in these world-class museums, The deYoung Museum and The Legion of Honor, both located in San Francisco.

The beauty of the art and any collection is only enhanced by the “team” and army of people, collaborating behind the scenes, who orchestrate the stage, with the precision of the position, content, lighting, scale, juxtaposition, rhythm, and sequence. Curating is an art form unto itself. It must enhance the art being presented, as one would listen to a symphony performance, it all must merge and “lift” for the music to become its intended best. You can be assured that literally thousands of decisions, which are invisible to the viewers and guests are apparent, as they coalesce and fuse into the visual seamless performance we all get to enjoy when taking a stroll in a museum gallery, and for now, presented here, within our “Virtual Gallery”.

I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Osvaldo Ruiz, for his stellar collaboration on this special project,  as well as the talented photographers within this project, who have shared their unique vantage points, shown in this collection, giving us a rare perspective of their daily lives. I big thank you is in order for all of the staff who work at these incredible museums. These talented and dedicated artisans, transform our visits, into memorable, enchanting, and enriching experiences.  

In addition, I wish to thank Rafael Molina, who wrote and played the melodic and haunting musical piece for this project, as this perfectly sets the stage for what goes on “behind the curtain”.  

A big thank you to Nicola Bosco-Alvarez, for her assistance with the musical component for this project, as her dedication, support, and vision are legendary. 
And a big thank you to Qi Zheng, for his modern and elegant design for our HMPC Virtual Gallery website, and promotional materials, as his beautiful work consistently elevates our numerous projects to a new plateau. And lastly, a major thank you to RE Casper, who continually supports and transforms our website into the beautiful state, which we enjoy and appreciate today.

Dave Christensen
Director of Harvey Milk Photo Center
Sept. 21, 2020

About Curator Dave Christensen

Dave Christensen has curated and designed hundreds of exhibits, lectures, and gallery events showcased at HMPC, and The McLaren Lodge, in San Francisco, for over 10 years, as well as major exhibits in Mill Valley, California. Dave is also responsible for developing the photography programs, classes, workshops, and lectures. Dave also is the Creative Art Director for the promotional posters and materials and the HMPC website.

Illustrious photographers Dave Christensen has worked with and curated such masterful exhibits include: Imogen Cunningham, Eugene Atget, Christopher Rauschenberg, Ruth Bernhard, Minor White, Berenice Abbott, Pirkle Jones, Ruth-Marion Baruch, Nan Goldin, Man Ray, Horst P. Horst, Victor Skrebneski, Duane Michals, Peter Hujar, Robert Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Keith Haring, George Hurrell, Fred Lyon, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael Kenna, Judy Dater, Janet Delaney, Jeffrey Blankfort, John Wimberley, David Johnson, Gabriel Moulin, Arthur Tress, Thomas R. Schiff, Greg Gorman, Tom Bianchi, Gilbert Baker,  Jay Blakesberg, Daniel Nicoletta, Hal Fischer, Preston Gannaway.

Click here to see previous exhibits showcasing additional photographers & artists.

A museum exhibit is what the public sees. Any artwork viewed is, in fact, the surface layer of an environment in which art collector, curator, artist, art handler -indeed all museum personnel- live and work. Our photographers are influenced and responsive to this environment. The photographs in this exhibit are a glimpse behind the scenes, a document of technical and creative interaction, and a reminder that museum workers have always brought art into the light.

We would like to thank the following departments of the FAMSF: Marketing, conservation, registration, photography, and the photographers involved in this project, as we are very appreciative for their help with this exhibit.

Thanks also to the Harvey Milk Photo Center and a very special thanks to Dave Christensen for hosting this exhibition.

Osvaldo Ruiz
Sr. Lighting Technician
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
de Young | Legion of Honor
Sept. 21, 2020

About Curator Osvaldo Ruiz

Osvaldo is a painter, printmaker and paper engineer living and working in San Francisco. He immigrated to the Bay Area in 1997 and immediately fell in love with the cultural diversity that this town had to offer. His art has been exhibited in Mexico City, San Francisco, Boston and in Cassis, France.

Having worked for major museums in the SF Bay Area, including SFMOMA, AAM, YBCA, and the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, among others, this is his first incursion as a curator. He is currently the senior lighting technician for the FAMSF.

See the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco as Only a Member Can

It’s the perfect time to become a member, with world-class core benefits and truly magnificent exhibitions all year long. Our main page with our levels and benefits is here:

Member Wednesdays: Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving. Enjoy our newest member perk every Wednesday during regular museum hours throughout the run of Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving (only members and their guests can view the exhibition every Wednesday)

Free admission to the permanent collections and all special exhibitions at the de Young and Legion of Honor

Invitations to Member Previews and monthly digital events

Discounts on audio tours, lectures, in the Museum Stores, and more

Subscription to Fine Arts magazine and Member Monthly email newsletter

Photographs by Gary Sexton

Music Written & Performed by :

Rafael Molina

Rafael Molina, was inspired by the photography in this project, and then composed and played the original score. Rafael is a Latinx artist-activist transplanted in New York, originally from San Francisco. As a musician and composer, he has worked with various regional theatre, and production companies coast to coast. Recent performing credits include the virtual world premiere of Rodney Hicks’ Just Press Save (Pride Plays), She Loves Me (Village Theatre), and West Side Story (BATCO). In addition to his work as a performer and composer, Rafael has extensive experience in concept, writing and content creation in media and theatrical events. He is currently a producer for Seattle Shakespeare Companies’ Exit Pursued by Race and Education, a podcast about the history of systemic racism in Shakespeare and educational institutions, alongside the stories of community educators, students, and artists.

BFA Cornish College of the Arts. Rafael is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.

For the following galleries, please click image to enlarge.

Jorge Bachman

Image Production Technician

Artist Bio

Jorge Bachman, is a photographer, and a multimedia and sound artist. He collects images exploring the strange, unique, and microcosmic visions of everyday life. His photographs create immersive atmospheres exploring social and sensual constructs and experiences.

Jorge, Bachmann has exhibited and performed in North America, Europe, Taiwan, Japan, and South America.

Al Barna

Health and Safety Officer

Artist Bio

Al Barna is a San Francisco based photographer whose work has been shown at the Rayko Photo Center, the Tenderloin Museum, Perfect Exposure Gallery, de Young Museum, and the Legion of Honor Museum.

His photographs have been featured in Alta magazine, The Sun magazine, CA Modern magazine, Shots magazine, Society for Commercial Archeology Journal,,, and

Arie Knoops

Senior Museum Technician

Series Held in Trust

Since the library of Alexandria was established by Ptolemy I in 280 BCE, museums have been the caretakers of mankind’s art, science, culture, and history. They hold this in public trust the enrichment of society, although what is valued by one generation may not be held in as high esteem by the next. These fleeting fancies of fashion dictate the disposition of these objects and ideals.

Artist Bio

Arie Knoops was born and raised in NYC during the 60s and 70s, this was a time when the city was at its best and its worst. The diversity within the city’s unique and different neighborhoods imbued in him a sense of history and cultural memory. This was further reinforced as both sides of his family lived under the occupation of Europe during WWII.

After completing his BFA from Cooper Union in NY, he moved to Arizona. It was here that he embraced the barrenness of the desert, rich with its own special history. History and memory have usually guided his pursuits: from tuning pipe organs to driving a horse drawn carriage in NYC, as well as his passion for fencing and vintage motorcycles. Arie lives in San Francisco

Jason William Lemkuil

Museum Technician

These images give a glimpse into art show production. The snapshots not only document the process of displaying art but also highlight the unseen work needed to showcase art. As such, utilitarian tools can be viewed as works of Still Life, bringing the background vignettes into focus.

Artist Bio

Jason is a San Francisco based photographer. His background is in shooting large format landscapes.

Shanna Muwwakkil

Security Officer

Diplopia, a portrait by Shana Muwwakkil.

This portrait shows Michael Dias from behind, during the exhibition of the video piece, Vertighost, by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Vertighost was commissioned by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and features brief footage of Michael in the same pose, only this time contemplating Amadeo Modigliani’s portrait of Pierre-Edouard Baranowski. In Shana’s digital portrait of Michael, he is looking at himself from behind looking at the painting on the wall: like a mirror in front of a mirror, and at the end of the mirrors, we see a young man looking back at us. Shana’s intuition to take the picture of her friend is playful and genuine, a moment shared while at work as security officers of the museums.

Artist Bio

Shana Muwwakkil is a proud native, born and raised, of Oakland, California. Working for the Fine Arts Museums has given her a place for reflection and an appreciation for the arts; she sees her job there as an opportunity for new experiences. Shana is a candid photographer: never missing the opportunity to take a picture or video of her beloved family, friends and all random things under the sun. She currently lives in her dream house, the home that has belonged to her family since 1968.

Raychel Severance

Exhibition Graphic Designer

Artist Bio

I am a Vermont native graphic designer, photographer, typographer, screen printer, vinyl installer, dog mom, bicycle lover, music maker, story collector, iced coffee drinker, and general art enthusiast. Art and creativity have been at the epicenter of all of my acquired experiences and adventures.

I value the chances I get to take in the museum world to do something creative and different, learning constantly through trial and error. It’s so rewarding when production time comes, giant installs are happening, and I get to take a hands-on approach rather than paying someone else to get the effect I want. In the regular world, I believe that there’s so much you can accomplish with a little bit of confidence and a lotta bit of YouTube. But in the museum world, you don’t need YouTube, just ask a technician.

Tristan Telander

Exhibition Designer

Artist Bio

Tristan is a well-rounded designer, environmentalist, and runner. She has enjoyed ten years in the design profession working for an architecture firm, an advertising agency, and four fine art institutions. Tristan’s goal is to continuously grow while exploring the field of visual communication as it changes with technological advances, and, in regards to the environmental footprint.

Arlo Keo Valera

Woodshop Operations Specialist

I wanted to share how it feels to work behind the scenes in our museum. Some of my favorite moments are when we handle and install the artwork together as a team. The art can be very fragile or delicate or large or heavy and sometimes even dangerous. Handling the art often requires a plan. I get a lot of satisfaction from completing a successful exhibit or installation with my colleagues.

Artist Bio

Arlo Keo Valera has worked at the De Young Museum and the Legion of Honor in San Francisco for the past six Years. Arlo began as an Art Preparator. He currently works as a Woodshop Operations Specialist helping to build the exhibits and shows at both museums.