Do you know that on January 20th in many American cities, art dealers shut their doors in support of the Women’s March? In San Francisco over 100,000 protesters showed up to march in the streets and The San Francisco Art Dealers Association reported that most galleries were closing in solidarity with the Women’s March and in opposition to the Trump inauguration. Just before the inauguration, I received an email from Catherine Clark Gallery notifying me of their decision to temporarily close the gallery. It may sound strange but I felt comfort in their decision to “art strike.” As an artist and someone who worked on Capitol Hill many years ago, I know that action speaks louder than words. San Francisco’s Eleanor Harwood Gallery boldly summed up her decision to strike. “Art galleries don’t often take an overt political stance. We fear losing our audience, our collectors, or respect. This fear can create silence. However, this particular election has pushed me too far to be silent. As a cultural institution committed to fighting sexism, racism and xenophobia as expressed by the incoming administration, I will be marching along with other colleagues in San Francisco, taking a stand for what I believe is right.” (quote from Hyperallergic) All I can say is “You go Girl!” Your support and solidarity is what makes me so proud to be a part of my local art community. A special kudos, too, to all the gallery owners who opted to join the sea of people who walked from the the city’s Civic Center to the Ferry building – San Francisco appreciates your ‘chutzpah’ and your support.
Currently I am tucked away in a transitional neighborhood of South San Francisco in my “new studio” surrounded by old warehouses. I haven’t lived in San Francisco long enough to know the best coffee places, but I have been fortunate enough to find a community of like minded artists. A few months back when I began looking for studio space I turned to ArtSpan, a local Arts organization that assists budding artists with engaging their community while developing their own art practice. As luck would have it, ArtSpan just happened to be launching another local collective (aptly named the ArtHive) and without hesitation I joined the group. In the few short months I have been here it has lead me to work with a diverse group of activist artists and, most importantly, to engage with my new neighborhood. Housed in those nearby warehouses and commercial spaces are businesses like glass design, automotive body work, and even contractor workshops. Loosely threaded throughout the fabric of this diverse neighborhood and others close by are other artists who share my activist tendencies. It feels rewarding to slowly enter an impassioned art community that shares like minded values.
Nearby in Bayview, San Francisco, and just six weeks before the inauguration of our 45th president, artists Danielle Satinover and Mark Harris were busy at work designing a community political exhibition. The show was to be held at a local pop up venue called the 3rd Street Village Gallery. The gallery, located at 4716 Third Street in San Francisco, is a non-profit arts organization started in 2015 and funded by three local contributors; Andrea Baker Consulting, the Bayview Opera House and Imprint City. It was launched in an effort to activate local business and develop a thriving 3rd street corridor. In 2015, Satinover saw a way for her neighborhood to find its own voice and seized the opportunity to curate what she thought would be a 3 month exhibition. A year and a half later Satinover is on her 7th exhibition. She openly expresses her views on curatorial work calling it the “creative part” and likening it to “doing sculpture in my practice.”
Advice for her 7th exhibition came from local artist Ron Saunders who urged her to focus on “what was close to home and what (she) had.” Working with the community, and local artist Mark Harris, Satinover decided to put a call out to artists for a locally focused political exhibition. Within six weeks “You Have a Voice” was born empowering both artists and community members to find a community voice. It was through my new (and I must say effective) ArtHive network that I learned about the local art exhibition. Thankfully a piece of my work was accepted to the exhibition just days before its opening.
Harris and Satinover have installed over 20 pieces of political art in “You Have a Voice” exposing issues of civil rights abuse, corruption, and political regression. They have also included works of art by local artists in response to our recent presidential inauguration. This dynamic artist duo built a solid programming schedule into a six week long community engagement to encourage activism through the arts Inspiring scheduled events include,
- Live Spoken Word by KPFA’s Aqueila Lewis and Randy Figures and music by Africali 1/27 7-9pm
- In distress – a Flag Art project with photographer Joshua Coffy 2/11 2-4pm
- Know Your Rights sewing circle community panel with a Bayview /Hunters-Point Legal panel2/24 7-9pm
- Making Art with artists Suchitra Sharma and Mark Harris and SF Poster Syndicate. ¾ 1-4pm
On closing day on March 11 at 10:30am community members will to take their art to the streets and raise their new voices. I will be there to stand by this amazing artist community and march my political piece up Third Street with my new local voice.
Article by Megan Segre
Megan Segre is currently a contributing member and the assistant editor at ProximityArts.org. After graduating from UCLA in 1984 she worked as a legislative correspondent on the Committee for Commerce, Science and Transportation. Read more about Megan on our contributors page.