Opportunities walk through the door daily at the Drawing Room. Opportunities of friendship, support, patronage, inspiration and connectedness are continually emerging - which is demonstrated by the Annex. Exactly one year after opening the Drawing Room and founding the business, an art patron and local building owner parked in front of my studio and walked in. He was aghast that there were still artists making work in the city, who weren't shoveled into their dining rooms, out of the city altogether or obsoletion altogether. He offered me an opportunity to use an empty storefront on Mission street, for the cost of utilities + $1 month in rent. We are on a 3 month-3month lease, which will be coming due end of April, I will know April 1 if we can go on another 3 months or if I need to move within 30 days.
Truth be told, the space was in total disrepair and not suitable or safe for exhibiting or working. Electrical and floor work immediately had to be done, to make the space safe.The walls were lined with dark grey slatted wall board, the floor houses a nasty carpet and there's a weird smell. At the time, I was surrounded by a lot of artists - it was Open Studios and a lot of artist-energy was flowing through the Drawing Room. I felt empowered to make it work and use it to fund the Drawing Room's current space and have some kick ass shows at the same time. And so it began......
A small and mighty army of artists and friends showed up to help - paint, clean, demo, patch, repair and schlep. Contractors donated time, labor and materials, and paint was sourced by artists from local museums and paint stores to get free and low cost supplies. The space came together rather quickly and miraculously and the calendar started to fill for the next 3 months. ArtSpan hosted "ArtWrap" in December, and then to honor all the helping artists, I hosted an exhibition of their works called "Into the Current" to give them each more exposure and community engagement. Volunteers offered to sit the gallery so the Drawing Room could also be open and Nick Maltagliati decided to take a leap and come on board the Drawing Roo, to help keep things organized and running smoothly. Between November and February, The Drawing gained 3 new investors and brought the Drawing's Room economy into a near almost happy place.
In December, Courtney Norris and Tom Seligman approached me to host an exhibition of Tom's work in a show titled "Nail Fetish" in the Annex which ultimately ran January-February. During this time, Tom and his wife Rita, rallied their communities of artists and patrons to attend his show, learn about the space and get actively involved in their local arts community by supporting his work and collecting. Both Tom & Rita, and Courtney the curator donated the proceeds of his exhibition to support the Drawing Room efforts to develop storefront art space for under represented artists and serving the communities they exist within.
In early February, the Drawing Room hosted a call for submissions from local SF women artists for an exhibition titled "Women Rising" - in honor or Women's History Month during March. Courtney was invited to co-curate with Renée and the call went out via various channels of communication. Over 100 submissions came in, and ultimately the show was able to accommodate exactly 100 artists, a tremendous fete to take on.
The opening, scheduled for March 7, was canceled due to COVID 19 and precautionary measures put in effect for public events. This exhibition was up through May but due to the pandemic unknowns, I decided to close the show as access to see it was impossible and I wasn't certain I'd be able to keep the space for another month.
In late June, the building owner invited me to stay through mid-September, when the new tenant's public hearing is scheduled. Yes, the Annex has been permanently rented to home furnishings store. Though a sad ending to what has been an incredible journey of immense work to build community, space and ultimately art experiences that would give the viewers something to think about, engage in and grow from. The story is not over though...
In addition to curating Women Rising, Courtney Norris of Curated State put together an exhibition at the Bayview Opera House just prior to the COVID shutdown, a larger than life portrait show created by artist David Aaron Smith. David served as a resident artist at Gardenville Station, in which time he created 9 portraits of figures from the Bayview, he interviewed each person and did large portrait of each person made of discarded materials, as well as a series of ink sketches to coincide with the larger portrait. The entire exhibition was taken down right after the shutdown and placed in a container back Gardenville. When I was granted permission to keep the Annex, Courtney proposed to install it here as the entire exhibition is available to view online, the 2600 square foot space of the Annex is large enough to accommodate limited visitors and aside from all conveniences - the show is relevant and moving. Each portrait and person is deeply associated with displacement - of people, waste, land, food, money. I didn't realize, wholly, when committing to this show, how pertinent and affected by it I would be and want to keep it up as long as I can. So it will be up through Sept 10, available to see online or in person by appointment.
We'll see where this all goes. Please reach out or subscribe to our newsletter to keep in the know and follow ways to support this and other upcoming projects. Please do try to make it by to see this show - it's well worth it.
Thank you for being a part of the Drawing Room!