• Through Feb. 16
• Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St., Oakland
Can’t get to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert for Burning Man? Then visit OMCA to see scores of massive community-driven sculptures and installations—including a 40-foot-tall temple crafted by lauded Bay Area sculptor David Best (whose work is often ritually set afire at the end of the weeklong art-centric celebration). The exhibition, which originated at the Smithsonian, also includes a companion show: City of Dust: The Evolution of Burning Man traces Burning Man from its countercultural origins in the San Francisco Bay Area to the world-renowned city in the desert it is today.
• Feb. 13–Aug. 9
• Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., San Francisco
What a long, strange trip it’s been for blue jeans—from utilitarian denim work pants created by Bavarian-born Levi Strauss in 1873 in San Francisco all the way to his namesake company’s IPO in early 2019. Levi Strauss is a riveting (and, yes, riveted) exhibition showcasing his life and the worldwide phenomenon he launched, one that has been embraced by 19th-century cowboys, 1950s Hollywood bad boys, and modern-day collectors (who don’t raise an eyebrow at the thoroughly modern price tag of $200-plus for some pairs). The show features more than 150 items from the San Francisco company’s archives.
• Through Mar. 15
• de Young Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr., San Francisco
What do activism and resistance look like in a gallery setting? This charged question animates the works of more than 60 African American artists in Soul of a Nation. Some answers: artist-activist Dana C. Chandler Jr.’s Fred Hampton’s Door 2, inspired by Hampton’s bullet-riddled front door (the Black Panther leader was killed in 1969 by Chicago police while asleep in his apartment), and Elizabeth Catlett’s Black Unity, a 1968 mahogany sculpture of a giant raised fist, which reminds us how the black power movement galvanized artists to use their work to resist racial violence and injustice.