'Hackett Mill' Gallery Moves To SoMA Because 'Union Square Got Boring'

Hackett Mill, a gallery formerly located in Union Square, has relocated to 145 Natoma St. (between 3rd and New Montgomery streets), next to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

The space has opened with Decades in the Making: A Continuous Rotating Exhibition, a group showing of seminal artists from the 20th Century. The show runs through March 29. 

Curated by gallery partners Francis Mill and Michael Hackett, the exhibition is a retrospective survey of the gallery’s own history and brings together artists who each challenged the status quo of the art world in their respective time and place.

Hackett Mill co-owner Francis Mill. | Photo: David-Elijah Nahmod/Hoodline

"We were in a beautifully designed and renovated pre-war building," Hackett Mill co-owner Francis Mill told Hoodline, but "Union Square got boring. Historic and meaningful art in a sea of boring designer labels didn't make sense anymore."

Mill described the new space as an "atelier," the French term for an artist's workshop. Some of the walls are portable and hollow, which allows the space to transform and accommodate new pieces. Art hangs everywhere, including over the desk where he works. Visitors are free to peruse the entire space.

Art displayed over Mill's personal workspace. | Photo: David-Elijah Nahmod/Hoodline

"My aesthetic comes from a functional need," said Mill. "I don't decorate. For our atelier, I was designing for maximum flexibility, and to be able to transform and change the spatial composition was highly important."

Mill said the gallery's goal is "to encourage deep and meaningful looking at art, as well as collecting, championing, educating ourselves and others on an important artistic history, [and] find inspiration in art before it's too late."

Francis Mill (left) with colleagues John Obrecht and Jennifer Tucker in front of a portable wall. | Photo: David-Elijah Nahmod/Hoodline

A native of the Excelsior, Mill's family ran an appliance store where he worked during his youth.

"My grandfather was a painter and a poet," he said. "My father is an artist, a highly accomplished water colorist and calligrapher—I am working on a publication of his body of work right now."

Mills began painting next to his father "in the small breakfast nook off the kitchen" at the age of four. Later, he trained as an architect at Berkeley and pursued a degree in fine arts painting.

"I consider myself to be the black sheep in the family as I'm the only one to  pursue art as a multifaceted career," he said. "I know of no other way. All family members in my generation pursued the traditional business and accounting route, and I find that to be a big bore."

Mill and John Obrecht hanging art at Hackett Mill. | Photo: David-Elijah Nahmod/Hoodline

Mill said his SoMa residence, a former warehouse built in 1937, meshes with his personal aesthetic and inspires him creatively. "I chose this building because I always have to start with an architecture with soul and character," he explained.

He's not a fan of the newer "cookie cutter" glass towers that are changing San Francisco's skyine. "We need to live in inspiration that lifts us up, every single second of the day," he said. "We need that more than at any other time that I can recall."

Mill said he hopes visitors feel uplifted when they visit Hackett Mill. "We'll offer more inspired presentations of art and thoughts that you won't find elsewhere."  

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Hackett mill gallery moves to soma because union square got boring