Ripple effects of negative affects and positive actions from the San Francisco Bay Area.

[GOOD] Finally, a critical mass of media attention on San Francisco’s tech-boom/gentrification crisis


[BAD] …which means constantly hearing news that is sad (or bitter, angry, antagonistic, mournful, etc.)… and sometimes relating to that news:

“People ask me, ‘Aren’t you going to miss the Bay Area?’ And I say that I already do. It’s not the same Bay Area it once was before.”

—Walter Robinson, as quoted by Christian L. Frock, “Priced Out: San Francisco’s Changing Values and Artist Exodus,” KQED Arts, April 3, 2014.
Edward Ruscha,  OOF, 1962, Oil on canvasDimensions, 71 1/2 x 67" // Source:

Edward Ruscha, OOF, 1962, Oil on canvasDimensions, 71 1/2 x 67″ // Source:

[GOOD / GET EXCITED] There seems to be a funneling of energy into thinking about art as it relates to economics. Get excited for this:

Michele Bock // Source: I am an artist.  This does not mean I will work for free.  I have bills just like you do.  Thank you for understanding.

Michele Bock // Source:

Valuing Labor in the Arts: A Practicum
April 19, 2014

…ARC will present Valuing Labor in the Arts: A Practicum. This event will include a series of artist-led workshops that develop exercises, prompts, or actions that engage questions of art, labor, and economics; it will also include a series of commissioned writings by critics and researchers whose work focuses on artistic labor and cultural economies. …ARC will host artists, curators, and writers from the Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, to stage an intimate yet wide-ranging exploration about art and labor, about alternative economies in the arts, and about strategies for working in ever changing “art world” landscapes….

I’d totally go to this if I were in the Bay Area… In fact I’m sort of kicking myself that I’m not there for this. But alas, I’ll make do with reviewing the materials online at the special issue of Art Practical, and on the forthcoming Compensation Foundation,

“a public, online, open-source platform for collecting, sharing, and analyzing how contingent workers are compensated.”

Bay Area Art Workers Alliance.

And…. I’m thrilled to help promote the Bay Area Art Worker’s Alliance‘s call for participation, for preparators, art installers, and art handlers  to contribute to an exhibition in YBCA’s Bay Area Now triennial. These invisible roles in the making of art exhibitions, which are on-call, part-time, financially and sometimes physically precarious, are finally getting some much-needed recognition from this institution. Deadline: May 15. Spread the word!


Rochelle Steiner Lecture at CCA

Rochelle Steiner, Director of the New York-based Public Art Fund, gave a lecture tonight at CCA. The Public Art Fund is a non-profit organization that commissions new, temporary works of public art by contemporary artists. You have heard of Olafur Eliasson’s Waterfalls project, perchance? That was them.

I came away really impressed with the Public Art Fund’s work. The organization thinks of itself as a museum without walls, so their public works rotate after six months. Developing a new work could take years, so their commitment to keeping the art temporary is admirable.

Steiner showed Public Art Fund projects by big-name artists—Alex Katz, Mark di Suvero, Juan Munoz, Jenny Holzer, Anish Kapoor (whose Sky Mirror in Rockafeller Center might be one of the most brilliant public interventions I’ve seen), Chris Burden—so I was familiar with all of the artists. I must have been looking for art that seemed incongruous with the artists’ oeuvres, because I was a little surprised that it all looked like contemporary art. I guess I was expecting some public art works to have more of a “community art” feel. More modest, pictorial, “easier.” But it didn’t. And I think that’s wonderful. The work is top-notch, the kind of thing that audiences would flock to at the Venice Biennale. Of course, it was public art for New York, free for anybody walking by to take a gander at, and made in collaboration with city agencies or corporations, yet I didn’t see any signs of compromise, of the urge to dumb down the art for general audiences, or to simplify elaborate installations.

Lest you think that the Public Art Fund is all highfalutin’, they also do educational outreach. In the Waterfalls project, they developed, printed and distributed a curriculum to NYC classrooms, and developed boat and bicycle tours. Steiner also listed the huge economic benefit to the city. Of the Waterfalls’ $15.5 million budget, the City gave a $2m grant; but the economic impact in tourism, boat trips, etc., centered around Lower Manhattan, is estimated to be around $60m. (Not that I think art’s aesthetic payoff isn’t enough.)

I left the lecture with one small regret—there are no equivalents in the Bay Area, no nimble public arts non-profits free from the problematizing consensus-building that dominates civic agencies.

Ann Pasternak, Director of Creative Time, is talking at UC Berkeley’s Kroeber Hall on Nov. 24. Don’t miss it.