Best awesome free art shows

Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art

The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Museum of Art showcases proactive, dynamic art—for free.

The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Museum of Art showcases proactive, dynamic art—for free.

Photo by Shoka

When the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art opened in November 2016, the first major exhibition was very Davis-focused: a dozen artists who were once UC Davis faculty. There was also a video piece showcasing the relationship between students and animals on the UC Davis campus, and a smaller exhibit detailed the design of the on-campus museum itself. While it was thoroughly exciting to have a new art center open in the area, it wasn't immediately clear how the museum's artistic vision would grow from there. Almost two years later, we have a much better idea: The Manetti Shrem is awesome.

Founding director Rachel Teagle has curated a number of visually arresting, politically charged and culturally relevant shows. A recent exhibit, You Broke the Ocean in Half to Be Here, hosted San Diego artist Andrea Chung’s collages, prints, video and more that all investigated the histories of Caribbean islands—specifically the colonization and racism that broke apart communities. And last year, Dimensions of Black featured more than 30 works by myriad black American artists from the past three decades, including Dread Scott’s 2007 flag that reads “A Man Was Lynched by Police Yesterday.” Repeatedly, Teagle has proven she’s not shy about confronting current realities.

Added bonuses: The docents are helpful, there are often interactive elements, and the striking architecture of the space is worth a visit alone. But the best part is that it’s free to visit for everyone, every day that it’s open.

We’re all for Sacramento’s galleries and art walks, but only 15 minutes away is a regional treasure built on the belief that art should be a public good—and that’s pretty special. 254 Old Davis Road in Davis, (530) 752-8500,