Is your studio just too tiny to create art? Calling all TL artists!

Posted: November 15, 2010 in Uncategorized
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A place to cut and frame your artwork? Check. FREE Studio space? Check. Grand Piano? Also check! These are just a few of the services and spaces that the Community Benefit District has available at its art center in the heart of the TL.

I spent Saturday at their first weekly artist meet-up, which will be every Saturday from 12 to 3, hanging out at the Community Benefit Districts’ (CBD) art and gallery spot at 134a Golden Gate (at Post) and had a great time talking with the coordinator and curator of the place. The only problem? I was the only one there!

A full size grand piano awaits the talented fingers of local Tenderloin artists.

A full size grand piano awaits the talented fingers of local Tenderloin artists.

Granted I left an hour early, so maybe another guest or two slipped by without notice.  Still, this place is just too colossal and awesome too not be crawling with artists and art lovers alike. I mean, there’s even a huge hallway under the sidewalk that was used through the 30’s as a place to store old film reals, now turned painting space.

CBD has created this artist-run space to showcase, brainstorm and create art by Tenderloin artists. CBD says one of it’s main goals is to promote art that puts the neighborhood in a positive light and keep the space for, “artists of all skill levels, experience and expertise, to come and gather to exchange ideas about art and community.” Currently, the gallery and showroom features 36 pieces from four countries by 24 different artists.

The space even has a lush garden in the back to hang out in.

The gallery is part of CBD’s outreach to the community. They’re responsible for a lot of those commissioned murals around the neighborhood, including the “Three Faces of Fear”, the huge anime’ style neon faces that cover the entire building as you walk down Golden Gate to Market. Rick Darnell, the curator and coordinator of the project exposed me to the meaning behind this mural and I’ll always look at it differently. The first (green) face, is supposed to be the Tenderloin resident, fearful of the neighborhood he lives in and upset about what goes on in the street. The second (pink) face, is the prostitute, fearful of getting beaten by her pimp, and the last (blue) face, is the cop, getting ready to face the streets that day.

The program coordinators Wilton Woods and Rick Darnell are both passionate about the neighborhood. Darnell is a guy overflowing with life, you won’t be able to escape getting into a long discussion of art, politics, and even the history of the neighborhood itself. While Woods is more laid-back, you get a balance, and I immediately feel like part of the gang.

Curator, Rick Darnell browses the Tenderloin Art Lending Library

They are always looking for artists to submit art for a gallery show or to donate to the Tenderloin Art Lending Library (TALL), a new program that allows residents to browse through local art and choose a piece to take home for up to three months. It’s fairly easy to borrow, all you need is an ID card, and it’s intended to be easily borrowed to encourage the neighborhood to participate. Other donated art is displayed in the lower level space, along with some of Elaine Zamora’s personal collection.

Rick Darnell showcases ready-to-borrow art from a local Tenderloin artist

Rick Darnell showcases ready-to-borrow art from a local Tenderloin artis

Art featured in the gallery show rotates six times a year. The current show, features portraits of Tenderloin residents that would not have normally gotten a portrait taken. My favorite one was of a notorious local woman who came in with a huge black trench coat and hood that was then made to look like a off-the-shoulder dress. The crisp portraits reveal a hidden aspects of the characters usually framed by a negative light. This show will end on December 10, to make way for the “Uncharted Territories” exhibit, which is accepting submissions through Dec. 5. The theme focuses on, “blueprints for the inner workings of new civilizations, as envisioned by artists of various disciplines. Maps of imagined cities, countries, worlds, and even entire solar systems will expose created landscapes that await the occupancy of a post-apocalyptic society.” The best part? CBD charges no fee or commission rates. So hurry, you’ve still got time to get your art in the show!


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