The art culture of Southeast San Francisco

By Alma Ayala

“Building the Art House” opened a multigenerational art exhibit to the public in City College’s Rosenberg Library on May 4, 2017 and will run for six months until Nov. 3, 2017.

It consists of a three part show that features different types of artistic ways of Southeast San Francisco. It includes paintings, drawings, electronic arts, sculptures, textiles, photography and video installation displayed on different floors.
The exhibit represented 50 different artists living and working in the Portola, Bayview/Hunters Point, Vis Valley and Excelsior.

The concept of the exhibit came into fruition because it has a powerful relationship to City College considering many of the students come from the neighborhoods that are being represented through art.

The art gallery started on floor two with a neon sign that displayed Laborhood but flickered to emphasize “labor.”  It delivered the simple message of the importance of culture and the land we have now. This level offered many types of art unlike the other two levels.  Students created paintings, women art, photography, graphic novels, charcoal art and lithograph prints.

Many of the guests were overwhelmed as they stopped by to see a lithograph print made by Juan R. J. It was a perfectly handcrafted father carrying a womens basket with four children with the words, “Solo el que carga el morralito sabe cuanto pesa” meaning, “only the one who loads the bag knows how much it weighs.” Which goes back to the topic of labor and culture that many of the community are familiar with.

As guest found their way to the end of floor two, they were greeted by indigenous jewelry which made a bold political statement. A simple pair of handcrafted earrings read, “they try to bury us… they don’t know we are seeds,” leaving a prideful smile on visitors as they headed up to the next floor.

Floor three focused on the importance of gardens and the continuation of planting seeds. Visitors were going around a circular exhibit with photographs of flowers and greenhouses around the area. Guests were offered maps of green space around Southeast San Francisco along with brochures of garden tours to get involved with the community.

The visitors acknowledged the importance of green spaces as they read “we need farms” on a photograph. It attracted visitors and provoked them to think about being more involved in a community garden.

The last stop was floor four which devoted its gallery to photography in the Bayview area. Visitors had warm smiles as they recognized familiar places that were photographed like the El Toro Night Club. Most of the photos displayed were street photography style images that captured the rawness of locals enjoying their time, whether it was dancing all night at El Toro Night Club or eagerly picking up a $7 plate at the Bayview Boat Club.

It gave insight into the Croatian American Cultural Center which is an African clothing and jewelry store with photographs of locals in action.            

One of the organizers, Kate Connell, proudly shared her hopes of a good turnout after the opening. “We’ll have lots of special programs beginning in the early fall semester.”