Citizenship, Meta-Practice

Intersection for the Arts as We Knew It

San Francisco’s relentless economics cuts close to the bone, dismantling Intersection for the Arts.

I had the honor of exhibiting at San Francisco non-profit art organization Intersection for the Arts in 2004 and 2012.

Backlit curator Kevin Chen speaks at the opening of "In Other Words," 2012. my Positive Signs drawings are on the wall behind him.

Backlit curator Kevin Chen speaks at the opening of “In Other Words,” 2012. My Positive Signs drawings are on the wall behind him.

 

In particular, curator Kevin Chen has been a major ally to me (he’s the “k” that kicks off this sequence of artistic advancements on Works Make Work). Moreover, he’s been a thoughtful, dedicated contributor towards keeping SF’s art programming current, diverse, and critical. (Here’s a great 2008 SFGate profile that captures his essence, i.e., “Placid, soft-spoken, with a low, late-night-radio kind of voice, Chen brings to his work a combination of sangfroid and compulsive work ethic.”) He’s worked countless late nights personally installing exhibitions; his work as a curator has really been curator/exhibitions manager/installer/art handler/framer. He could also be found delivering erudite introductions to Intersection’s jazz performances, and donating his time and expertise to classes and likeminded arts nonprofits. He’s a practicing artist, drawing detailed graphite drawings inspired by San Francisco’s skyline.

I came away from my first exhibition at Intersection’s Valencia Street location impressed with the staff’s commitment to excellence and inquiry despite a shoestring budget.

They’ve stayed afloat amidst recessions and busts, but they won’t survive San Francisco’s current climate intact. They’ve laid off curators including Kevin, and will suspend programming. See Christian L. Frock’s “San Francisco’s Intersection for the Arts Suspends Programs, Lays Off Curators” on KQED Arts (May 22, 2014) for more info. For many artists, this is another painful, irrevocable loss in the art community, as documented in Frock’s “Priced Out” series.

Since I moved away in 2010, people ask if I’ll return to the Bay Area. Its clearly hostile conditions, and the tolls they’re taking on the arts community, do not beckon.

What is to be done? Perhaps, as MA implored,

Everyone, go to galleries, museums, performances, and any and all cultural events!!! Invest in your local cultural institutions before they are gone…. please!

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