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The Music Issue features | David Molina (Art) | Dan Dion (Art) | Michael Musika (Literature) | Afterlife (Style) | Vacation SF (Style) | Old School Cafe (Dine) | Urban Bedrooms (Design | Home)| Foggy Notion (Design | Home) | The She’s (Music) | Emily Jane White (Music) | Divisadero (Community) | Pinball Museum (Beyond SF) | Bakesale Betties (Beyond SF) | Rose Gold (Feature) | Vinyl Peddlers (Feature)| Om Records (Feature) | Karaoke Masters (Feature) | BART Musicians (Feature) | Radio Habana (Nightlife) | Nightlife Photos | Bells (Music) | Judgement Day (Music) | Silver Swans (Music)

On a cool, breezy summer evening, music emanates from the middle of the block on 18th Street, steps away from Dolores Park. The lovely voice of a woman summons, rather easily, others to a delightful space. Stepping inside, there are vibrant and colorful drawings of sweet breads and cakes adorning the walls. The music that lured people in is just as intoxicating as the wine and food served. A songstress taps at an upside-down metal bucket fashioned into a stringed instrument while singing with perfect key and timing. Looking around, the tables are filled with people and food. One of the chefs for the event walks over with sushi wrapped in nori with intricate laser-cut patterning. Sitting down on one of the benches and with possibly the freshest ceviche ever made, it was hard not to feel captivated by the warmth and uniqueness of the space—not your average closing art exhibition. Yet, this is the constant environment and ambiance found at nonprofit organization 18 Reasons.

In 2007, Bi-Rite Market took over the space formerly known as Blue Space from founders Cliff Leonardi and Dan DiPasquo. Paying homage to the iconic San Francisco 17 Reasons sign that served as a part of the Mission District skyscape, Bi-Rite decided to rename the event and gallery space to 18 Reasons after its new home on 18th Street. Despite the bustling surroundings and wide array of eateries in the area, 18 Reasons unites an undeniable combination of art, community, and food. With the objective of creating community through food and art, the programming literally and figuratively caters to the diverse San Francisco community.

The multifaceted approach toward community engagement requires programming and interfacing with the public in ways that offer new perspectives to the community through the arts. Eighteen Reasons offers not only an exploration of food and cooking, but also a multitude of approaches that touch upon more complex issues. Art serves as a great vehicle for broaching real-world problems in relation to consumption and our overall relationship to food. Regarding the greater curatorial practice, 18 Reasons curator Casey Carroll elaborates on her vision of the space as a gallery: “Beyond encouraging pleasure and a deeper appreciation of food and those that produce it (both the environment and our farmers), my vision is to push the envelope and encourage open dialogue that addresses some of the rougher sides of food: commodification, labor infringements, animal abuse, poor nutrition, hunger, and beyond.” Carroll adds that “each art show is tailored to the individual artist and the concept or vision that guides their work. What sets our programming and curating at 18 Reasons apart is that the art on the walls never stands alone. The programming that surrounds each display showcases its interconnection and interdependence with the culinary arts and social practice.”

Lastly, the art programming at 18 Reasons entails the Bathroom Residency. Yes, it is exactly what you think. The yearlong artist residency allows for an artist to create artworks for the 18 Reasons restroom. Believe it or not, this takes an incredible amount of innovation and strategic thinking around how to utilize the space. Granted, many restrooms have some sort of decorative artworks, but these residents make using the space an unforgettable experience. Carroll describes the Bathroom Residency as “the second piece in a long-term project entitled The Residencies, which launched in 2009 during Julie Kahn’s stay at the Headlands Center for the Arts. Julie decided to take over our bathroom for the year and install amazing works of art that ranged from Eucalyptus branches springing out of the wall to laser-cut nori. Julie wanted to stay true to our roots and make the residency feel seasonal, which is why each artist has four different installations over the course of the year.”

Originally posted to Asterisk SF Magazine + Gallery site, please view here

When it comes to art, New York has been called a hub where intellectualism and creativity meet. Although it has a smaller population, the same sentiment can be said about San Francisco. As the city known for its diversity, its no surprise that one can find a multitude of extraordinary and unique artists creating art ranging from traditional to highly experimental and conceptual. These individuals need someone capable of navigating the art world as well as having the deft business acumen to run an art establishment. This person must also orchestrate opportunity while engaging the community. Catherine Clark fits this description perfectly. After her studies in English literature and Art History from the University of Pennsylvania, the San Francisco native found herself returning to the Bay Area. In retrospect, her decision was fortuitous for the San Francisco art community as it forged a place in the city’s art scene that has, arguably, made her one of the most prestigious galleries on the West Coast, if not nationally.

Originally called Morphos, the Catherine Clark gallery has become one of the most influential galleries showcasing both national and international artists. Her gallery began in Hayes Valley in the early 1990s, subsequently moving to 49 Geary in April 1995 and moving in 2007 to 150 Minna Street, her currect space. The 2,500 square feet ground floor space with two large galleries is a neighbor to the San Francisco Museum of Modern of Art (SFMOMA). The gallery  includes a dedicated media room that is uncommon to most gallery spaces in San Francisco. In recent years, she established a pop-up exhibition space in a residential apartment in New York’s Chelsea district on West 14th Street for her East Coast clientele. It has been said that Clark injected a bit of New York onto Minna Street. Yet, she wholly believes that San Francisco has a tremendous art community and notes regionalism exists in all places. In order to defy such insularity, exposure depends upon creating and building a community that can execute on a national and global scale.Alongside utilizing technology to gain a broader audience, local art fairs allow the community become much more involved. For this reason, San Francisco is rife with potential and ready to be seen as a place for cultural exchange. Clark asserts, “We have a lot of the ingredients already in place that make for a vibrant art scene…We could use more press for the art scene that reaches a national or international audience so that our assets are not just enjoyed and understood by the locals”. To further prove this point, Clark represents a myriad of individuals, many of them local, whose work she defines as content-driven, which certainly commands attention.

Clark strives to have her artists’ work and the content of these shows move past the opening night and outside of the space itself. Her hope is for the work to reach a wide range of patrons and art lovers. Exposure beyond a city’s limits is imperative to the success of any gallery. However, the foundation that nurtures and binds her gallery relies heavily on her intuition and a profound connection to her artists and their practices. Currently, she represents 25 artists. Although each has a unique story, the process of representing an artist entails her response to the work with an invested and serious commitment to their growth and development. In conjunction with the exhibitions, the new media program compliment the overall exhibitions. Large art institutions often notice the work Clark exhibits. “I have also been encouraged by how SFMOMA has taken more of an interest in artists working in this region. The recent Shadowshop project by Stephanie Syjuco is a great example of what I am speaking of relative to that museum”, Clark affirms. Some of the most notable artists in her program include Al Farrow, Travis Somerville, Sandow Birk, Stephanie Syjuco, Packard Jennings, Carlos and Jason Sanchez (Sanchez Brothers), Jonathan Solo amongst other talented artists.

Current and Upcoming Exhibitions

June 4 – July 16
Stephanie Syjuco
Media Room: Kate Gilmore

July 23 – August 27
Imagine Ireland (Irish artists and writers; in collaboration with Culture Ireland)

September 3 – October 29
Julie Heffernan
Media Room: Nick and Sheila Pye

November 5 – December 23
Ray Beldner
Media Room: Ed Osborn

Please click here to learn more about the Catherine Clark Gallery.

Published to Asterisk SF Magazine.

I don’t get it.

Why is this art?

I can do that.

A kid could do that.

This isn’t art.

Trust me on this one…


ArtHaus Gallery Profile

Over a month ago, I had the privilege of talking to gallery owners, James Bacchi and Annette Schutz, for Asterisk SF magazine. Not only was it a great conversation but a wonderful story of how ArtHaus has flourished over the years through a tough art market. They’re, certainly, a staple in the San Francisco Art Scene and know exactly how to spread much-needed passion and love for the arts. Please click on the image above to check out the gallery profile.

Also, don’t forget to check out Asterisk SF! Being an SF native, this publication is particularly close to my heart!