This weekend, a new slew of sparkling art gallery spaces opens in the area formerly known as "Multimedia Gulch" -- it's now become Gallery Gulch. These new venues underscore an exciting economic revival in the corridor south of San Francisco's Market Street (SOMA) and north of Potrero Hill.
The district once housed dozens of technology startups during the mid- to late 1990s, all hoping to be the next big thing. I moved into this neighborhood in 2000 and remember that somewhat surreal time, with the many twenty-somethings speeding around the 8th and Townsend traffic circle in their convertible Corvettes.
We all know what happened after that. Most of those start-ups came, burned through their angel money, and went, leaving nothing but the vacant Cat-5 cable hubs in the walls of the mostly industrial, blue-collar district warehouses. There were a few survival stories; Macromedia at 7th and Townsend merged with Adobe, which makes the now-ubiquitous Photoshop software. Former video game giant SEGA held out in its multi-story monolithic brick headquarters until it's shutdown in 2010, and then Zynga took over. The arts were particularly hard-hit. The beloved alternative art space New Langton Arts ended its run in 2009, and dozens of galleries closed their doors.
But it's now over ten years later. The economic dust seems to be settling, and San Francisco is the fastest growing large county in the US with an unemployment rate of 5.9%, and job growth of 6.1% in the private sector between 2011-12. And tech is back - since 2010, the high tech industry created more than 20,000 jobs here.
And, thankfully, the art is back, too. The San Francisco gallery scene has now shifted to the area rimming the base of Potrero hill, with gleaming new gallery spaces and artist and designer workshops and outlets opening in several former industrial buildings. This Saturday, four new gallery spaces open their doors within steps of each other on Utah Street and Potrero Avenue -- Jack Fischer, Catharine Clark, Brian Gross, and George Lawson join pioneer Todd Hosfelt in inaugurating this new arts district (Todd Hosfelt opened his space on Utah street late last year). And just a stone's throw away is California College of the Arts' new Wattis Institute space on Kansas Street and Yves Behar's fuseproject art gallery, fused space, on 16th St. Rounding out the perimeter a few blocks south are Steven Wolf Fine Arts and Guerrero Gallery, on 19th St. If you want to venture a couple of more blocks west, check out the always-engaging Southern Exposure Gallery at 3030 20th Street.
Jack Fischer's gallery at 311 Potrero Avenue.
Catharine Clark wields a drill after installing artist Stephanie Syjuco's newest installation (made from the construction debris from the new space) at 248 Utah Street.
George Lawson's new venue at 315 Potrero Avenue.
Steven Wolf exhibits Linda Geary's newest work at 2747 19th Street.
If you're in San Francisco, don't miss the kickoff of the annual Potrero Art Walk that happens Saturday, September 7th - and be a part of ushering an exciting new arts landscape. Details of the participants are below:
Arch Art Arts & Crafts Store
99 Missouri Street
Brian Gross Fine Art
248 Utah Street
Catharine Clark Gallery
248 Utah Street
CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts
360 Kansas Street
Creativity Explored Studio Space
1 Arkansas Street, Studio E
Front Coffee Shop
150 Mississippi Street
1401 16th Street
George Lawson Gallery
315 Potrero Ave
260 Utah Street
Jack Fisher Gallery
311 Potrero Avenue
San Francisco Center for the Book Art Gallery
375 Rhode Island Street
Steven Wolf Fine Arts
2747 19th Street
Southern Exposure Gallery
3030 20th Street