ArtSpan Studio Residency Program
The creativity of its residents has always made San Francisco special. Their ingenuity and imagination have made our city unique, beautiful, and rich. It's a culture inspired by creators, innovators, artists, freaks, poets, and outliers. It's a city known for embracing the different, strange, and beautiful. It maintains a fragile balance that needs nurturing to survive and a strong community of artists to flourish.
ArtSpan's Studio Residency Program exists for that very reason. Not only does this program provide local artists with the studio space they need to work, it provides a foundation for artistic communities to grow and thrive. The art studios at The Art Hive and The Journal Building are excellent examples of places incubating art and creativity in present-day San Francisco.
The Journal Building on Market and Van Ness is located on the city's busiest intersection and was originally built and operated as a printing facility for the Wall Street Journal in the 1920s. Nearly 100 years later, it is a temporary workshop to some 20 artists using its second and third floors for painting, photography, illustration, digital art, mixed media, collage, and printmaking.
"The Journal Building becoming a workspace for artists is possible because the building's owners, Build Inc., are open minded," said ArtSpan Board Vice Chair and program manager of the Studio Residency Program, Matt McKinley. "By giving us the opportunity to offer studio space in time-limited real estate we saw this as an opportunity to be proactive in slowing the artist exodus out of San Francisco. We intentionally sought Bay Area artists who are active and interested in public outreach and want to sustain a vibrant art community while engaged in the business side of art practice. All artists in the program are ArtSpan members and receive free seminars about the various aspects of being a professional artist. Our Studio Residency program is set up so that the artists rely on one another to manage every aspect of being in a community together, from trash management to participating in our fall SF Open Studios event."
ArtSpan's involvement with the Journal Building began in 2015 when it secured an initial nine-month lease for its artist members. To kick off the Studio Residency Program they christened the building by doing what artists do: they turned something plain into something wonderful.
ArtSpan artists, armed with 40 gallons of paint and several scissor lifts, transformed the building's 50 X 120 foot façade with a mural designed by ArtSpan artist Joshua Coffy. What was once a dull, gray, industrial wall on the city's main artery became something uplifting for everyone to enjoy.
"Artists are cultural place holders in a neighborhood," said resident artist Lexie Bouwsma. "We love this location. The space has now become a place of inspiration and camaraderie, a place to create."
"Artists are the type of residents that take space otherwise thought useless and remake it into something creative and vibrant. Artists have the vision to turn the dull, the dirty, the discarded, into something interesting and valuable. They have the vision to see the value and possibility in things" - Denise Laws, Journal Building Artist Resident
"It's as permanent as it can get in a temporary situation," says Matt McKinley, "but putting an artistic community in a neighborhood even on a temporary basis is like giving an entire area a fresh coat of paint and a cultural shot in the arm. ArtSpan understands artist's needs and has learned how to build out a raw space efficiently and economically, and make it functional for artists."
The Art Hive has a two-year renewable lease in the Portola District. ArtSpan's current lease in The Journal Building runs out in January of 2018, and will be reassessed at that time. The building will eventually be demolished, but the artists inside are familiar with displacement. Many, if not most, have come from spaces that have already been repurposed to accommodate a flood of new residents and developers.
It is as important as ever that programs exist to keep working artists in San Francisco. Affordable places for artists in the city have all but disappeared. ArtSpan's Executive Director, Joen Madonna, weighed in on the topic. "The simple truth of the matter is artists are resilient and resourceful. They have an uncanny ability to thrive in circumstances others would find too daunting. And while these spaces are temporary—the building is to be razed for housing once permits have been approved—it remains one of ArtSpan's key missions to create more spaces for artists in the city."
ArtSpan artist Ariel Gold had this to say: "There is no better way to network than with other artists. We all have the same common goal, to continue doing what we love in the city that we love. The art scene has been a fundamental part of what it is to be a San Franciscan so as the atmosphere changes in our city, we need to work hard to make sure that art maintains its presence."
Make sure to visit these unique spaces during SF Open Studios 2017. The Art Hive will be open Weekend 3, October 28-29, and The Journal Building will be open Weekend 4, November 4-5.