The Mission, long a haven for artists, has welcomed a new exhibition space where local artists' works can be seen and purchased. Simply named State, the gallery is a collaboration between longtime business associates Kimberly Verde and Danielle Smith, who now pull double duty: the pair also runs Framework, a publicity firm serving the arts community.
The women spoke to Hoodline about their new venture, which some might see as risky. The Mission—sometimes referred to as Ground Zero for evictions and skyrocketing rents—has seen many of its artists forced out of the neighborhood.
"We have an understanding of what it takes to sustain an arts space in San Francisco," Smith told us. "So with the current cultural climate in this city under threat, it seemed like this was something we could do to give back to the community that we’re a part of."
Smith hopes that the new gallery will help keep the local arts scene vibrant. "We wouldn’t have our arts PR business Framework if there wasn’t an art scene in San Francisco," she said. "So this is us putting our money where our mouth is and hopefully contributing to the local arts scene in a positive way that continues to nurture love and understanding of the arts. The more vibrant the arts are in San Francisco, the better off our PR business is, and the better everyone’s life is, so it’s basically a feedback loop."
Smith is herself a longtime Mission resident. "I live in this neighborhood and I have for almost 13 years," she said. "This is home for me ... I can walk here in 12 minutes, my kid plays at the playground right up the street. I feel like what I’m doing has a direct and positive impact on the place where I live, and that feels really good. I’ve never had that before."
State, located at 1295 Alabama St. (at 25th Street), is located inside a storefront which once housed another gallery. It sits on a sunny corner which provides good lighting—perfect for viewing art pieces.
"I’m thrilled with the new space," Verde said. "I love the huge windows that run along the south wall and all the bright sunlight that spills in. The space was formerly the Eleanor Harwood Gallery and we’re happy to keep a gallery in the neighborhood. I love being so close to 24th Street and to so many other great and supportive galleries, bookstores and cultural centers."
Verde also spoke about why they opened a gallery while maintaining a busy schedule with their PR business. "Having a gallery has always been at the back of my mind," she said. "Very much like our clients and the artists in our personal and professional communities, we’ve had to change our thinking process in order to ride the wave of changes in San Francisco’s culture and industry. We wanted to be multifaceted in how we support the arts on multiple levels. Our work through Framework allows us to bring national attention to projects via the media."
State, Verde feels, is an extension of their publicity work. "We created State as another platform to support artists in a more intimate and local manner," she said. "The gallery also allows us to test the waters in the community and market to gain our clients’ perspective. It’s as if we’ve entered the battlefield so that we can become stronger generals."
State opened its doors on June 18th. Its inaugural exhibition, Material Limit, is currently on display and will run through July 30th. The show features works by Bay Area artists Alexis Arnold and Mary Button Durrell, whose work, according to State's press release, "center around the sustained investigation of material, and how that material interacts with space, light and time."
On August 20th, State will host an opening reception for t.w. five: Across From Us, its autumn exhibition. State's website describes this show as "a solo exhibition by Bay Area-based artist duo, t.w.five. The artists work in one material only – adhesive backed vinyl. The exhibition will feature a site-specific installation that will fully cover the front gallery in their signature cut vinyl, along with works from their larger-than-life Polaroid series in the back gallery."
So far, Smith and Verde are pleased with how their new venture is progressing. They say that the response to State has been overwhelmingly positive.
"I’ve met some of our upstairs neighbors, and they have been lovely," said Verde. "As expected, the art community is supportive and most understand the need for creatives to shift and reorient their practices to keep up with the ever-changing San Francisco."
"Our clients have all been really supportive of us, and our friends seem happy about it too," added Smith. "I think it’s a win-win for everyone."
State is open from noon-5pm, Tuesdays through Saturdays.
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