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For more than 30 years, Cheryl Haines has developed exhibitions and site-specific public programs that have exposed new audiences to contemporary art and advanced the discourse surrounding what she describes as “art about place.” Through the FOR-SITE Foundation and her gallery, Haines presents provocative exhibitions by artists working across a wide range of media, as well as public, site-specific commissions on a national scale.
In 2003, Ms. Haines established the FOR-SITE Foundation to foster the creation, presentation, and public understanding of place-based art through artist residencies, arts education, and commissions in outdoor, historic, and cultural sites. Through FOR-SITE, Haines has spearheaded innovative partnerships with museums and public agencies—including the National Park Service, the Presidio Trust, and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy—to provide new platforms for leading artists to work outside of traditional museum or gallery settings, and for broad audiences to engage with their work. In her role as the organization’s executive director, Haines has conceived of and produced an acclaimed series of landscape interventions by Andy Goldsworthy in the Presidio, including Spire (2008), Wood Line (2010-2011) and Tree Fall (2013); as well as residency projects by Richard Long at SFMOMA, Mark Dion at the Oakland Museum of California, and Cornelia Parker at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts; among others.
Quickly gaining an international reputation for her curatorial work, in 2010 Haines organized the FOR-SITE project Presidio Habitats, for which artists, designers, and architects investigated and reimagined native flora and fauna of the Presidio. This was followed by International Orange, a 2012 exhibition Haines curated at Fort Point and presented via FOR-SITE that featured commissions by sixteen artists to mark the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge.
In 2014, Haines curated @Large Ai Weiwei at Alcatraz, a large-scale public art exhibition for which she commissioned the internationally renowned Chinese artist and political dissident Ai Weiwei to create new sculpture, sound, and mixed-media installations for the infamous former prison. Most recently, through the FOR-SITE Foundation, Haines organized Home Land Security (2016), an exhibition of new and recent works by eighteen contemporary artists at the Presidio’s Fort Winfield Scott that explored the human impact of the machinery of security and defense.
In her role as gallerist, Haines has organized many notable projects, including the first West Coast exhibitions for internationally acclaimed artists such as Monir Farmanfarmaian, Ai Weiwei, Andy Goldsworthy, and Shirin Neshat, using the gallery as a platform to inject global voices into the San Francisco Bay Area art scene.
In 1994, Haines curated the solo exhibition Andy Goldsworthy: Stone Work in America, which traveled to five museums within the US: the Scottsdale Center for the Arts in Scottsdale, AZ; Western Gallery, University of Washington in Bellingham, WA; the Aspen Art Museum in Aspen, CO; and Southern Oregon State College in Ashland, OR. The show marks a turning point in the artist’s career.
As a curatorial advisor to the de Young Museum, Haines was instrumental in the placement of several large-scale installation works, including Zhan Wang’s Artificial Rock, James Turrell’s Three Gems, and Andy Goldsworthy’s Drawn Stone (all 2005). These projects reinvigorated the institution’s relationship to contemporary art as the museum inaugurated its new home in a landmark Herzog & de Meuron building within Golden Gate Park.
In addition to her curatorial work, Haines is involved in a variety of public San Francisco arts and cultural organizations. She is a founding advisor for the Asian Contemporary Art Consortium, served on the Contemporary Advisory Committee at the Asian Art Museum, and is a member of both the Art Dealers Association of America and Art Table. She has provided her expertise at various speaking engagements, including SFMoMA’s “Designing a Legacy: Female Game Changers in Art and Culture” and “Urban Place and Art Making,” and SXSW Eco’s “Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz: Art, Parks + VR.” Most recently, her cultural work and curatorial achievements have been recognized by the Asia Society and ArtTable, which honored Haines with their Northern California Chapter's Award of Service to the Visual Arts.