San Francisco

CounterPulse launches new window displays of work by Tenderloin artists

Local theater company CounterPulse has been a strong supporter of Tenderloin artists, letting neighbors borrow their work for free through an art lending library. 

Now, the group is expanding into exhibiting artists' work, with new displays in the windows of 350 Jones St. showcasing pieces created by people in the neighborhood. (The building itself is home to the Homeless Storage Facility, a nonprofit that provides space for houseless neighbors to store their clothes and other non-perishable items.)

Each month, the art in the window displays will change to reflect a different theme. The February display is "Black Artists Matter," celebrating African-American artists as part of Black History Month. For March, the display will honor Women's History Month with "Women Artists of the Tenderloin."

Artwork on display at the Homeless Storage Facility at 350 Jones.

All of the artists on view this month are clients of nearby nonprofit Hospitality House. CounterPulse neighborhood arts manager Rick Darnell previously worked at Hospitality House for a decade, so the two organizations collaborate on events and programming quite a bit, he said. 

Two of the Hospitality House artists featured this month, Lord Frederick and Charles Blackwell, are both in their sixties and close to legally blind, Darnell said. Nonetheless, they're able to produce bright, colorful pieces and silhouettes that he considers "really remarkable."

The ceramics on display are by Kimberly Trice, a woman also living in Hospitality House.

Works by Lord Frederick (foreground) and Kimberly Trice (background), both of Hospitality House, on display at 350 Jones St. 

Since moving to the Tenderloin in 2016, CounterPulse has made numerous efforts to promote the neighborhood arts community. The theater company hosts monthly themed block parties outside its building on the corner of Turk and Taylor streets, featuring hands-on workshops led by local artists. 

Last year, the group received additional funding from fees paid by local developer Group i, which is behind the nearby mixed-use development at the corner of Turk and Market streets.

It used the money to install a mural across the street from Hospitality House, and conduct a neighborhood-wide arts survey to understand what the community is seeking in its art installations.

Based on the survey results, Darnell is transitioning away from “community arts” to focus more closely on “neighborhood arts,” he said. “People want uplifting art that is empowering and reflective of the community."

CounterPulse's Turk Street space. 

Along with other neighborhood art groups, CounterPulse has helped develop the Tenderloin Arts Working Group (TAWG), which is dedicated to connecting neighborhood residents with art. TAWG will be fully curating the April window displays at 350 Jones, Darnell said. 

CounterPulse always pays the artists participating in the neighborhood arts program a stipend, Darnell said. While much of the program's funding dried up towards the end of 2018, it got some help last week from the Haas Fund, which donated $45,000 to continue its programming. Local arts supply store Blick Arts is also donating gift cards to cover the costs of artists' supplies.

Thanks to that assistance, the program has a full calendar ahead for the spring and summer:

CounterPulse's current neighborhood arts calendar for 2019. | Image: Courtesy of CounterPulse

“The Tenderloin is coming into its own, and has this whole thing about life as art to share,” Darnell said.

Anyone interested in having their work displayed, or collaborating with CounterPulse on block parties or other programming, is encouraged to contact Darnell directly at

350 Jones Street

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