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Best Place to See Ruth Asawa's Art for Free 

The de Young Museum's east entrance

In November of 2006, not long after reopening in its newly designed building, the de Young Museum organized what it called the first complete retrospective of Ruth Asawa's career. It was a perfect match of equals — a San Francisco institution (the de Young) reborn in a world-class structure, and another San Francisco institution (Asawa) reconsidered in her 80th year. It's easy to take Asawa for granted, but there's still no one quite like her. Her life-size wire sculptures stop you in your tracks. Think of them as abstract mannequins that hang in the air. Some of them incorporate shapes that resemble gourds or bubbles from a lava lamp. Others look like mesh sea urchins. The de Young has more than a dozen of Asawa's most exquisite wire works on display near the east entrance. No ticket is required to be in this area, which is in a space that leads to the tower elevator. This permanent exhibition is priceless for any Asawa fan — or anyone who needs an introduction to her breathtaking work.

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