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Take a Walking Tour of Noe Valley Artists
By Laura McHale Holland
Each weekend in October visual artists throughout the city will open their doors for San Francisco Open Studios 2001. Approximately 35 participating artists based in Noe Valley hope their neighbors will stop by to get acquainted.
Some artists are exhibiting in small, home-based studios; others are grouped together in more public venues. Some are seasoned artists who have participated in this event for many years; others are new to their craft and showing their work for the first time.
"We have at least 12 artists who have been using our studio as their place of creativity," says Christine Simmons, owner of Terra Mia, a ceramics studio on Castro at 24th Street. "They're all local, and excited about being able to show their work and actually maybe create a new career for themselves by selling it. For me, it's rewarding to add a different dimension to the shop, where people can come in and get inspired by some high-quality artwork, and it's wonderful to support such an important and lasting program," she adds.
Open Studios began in 1975, with 150 artists who lived in artists' lofts in the South of Market warehouse district. "Open Studios was formed to address the primary challenge for all artists -- gaining recognition through exhibits of their work. This small group of artists in the '70s collaborated and came up with the idea to use their studios as exhibit space and open them to the public," notes longtime participant and landscape painter Sherrod Blankner, whose studio is above Little Lizards on 24th Street.
Now produced by the non-profit ArtSpan, the event has grown to include 750 artists. The show is not juried, and all manner of fine arts and crafts are represented, including painting, sculpture, mixed media, ceramics, print-making, glass, furniture, jewelry, and photography.
Artists are grouped by neighborhood, and each group exhibits only one weekend of the month. Noe Valley is set for the first weekend, Oct. 67. Exhibiting the same weekend will be artists in the Castro, Duboce, Mission, Glen Park, and Bernal Heights.
On Oct. 1314, artists will display work in the Richmond, Sunset, Fort Mason, Marina, Pacific Heights, Haight, Western Addition, Buena Vista, West Portal, Diamond Heights, Twin Peaks, and Mount Davidson. Oct. 2021 will feature artists in the South of Market, Potrero Hill, North Beach, Russian Hill, Tenderloin, Financial District, Bayview, Portola, and Excelsior neighborhoods. On Oct. 2728, artists in Hunters Point will open their doors.
A free guide to all the artists in this year's Open Studios will be available in selected bookstores, retail stores, and coffee shops. It features images of artists' work and contact information for over 650 of the participants. In addition, a map of studio locations will be published each Wednesday of October in the San Francisco Bay Guardian.
Ellen Singletary, a painter and poet who integrates original text into all of her canvases, is one of five artists who will be exhibiting at Noe Art Space, a gallery within Value Vacation's office at Sanchez and 23rd streets. For Singletary, it is a perfect fit. "When I went to Open Studios last year, I found that it was easier to park and go in and see eight, nine, or even 20 artists at the same place. So when I found out about Noe Art Space, I thought it would be good because with five artists together, I think we'll get more foot traffic."
Other artists, such as Sanchez Street resident John-Claude Hundt, enjoy inviting people into their personal workspace. A resident of Noe Valley for six years, Hundt paints in the home he occupies with graphic designer Rachael Brune. He describes his paintings as being "like archaeological digs, layers upon layers of imagery much like sedimentary rock."
Another artist who will open his doors is painter Mark Campbell, of 101 Hoffman Avenue. Campbell, who has been the artist-in-residence for an elder program at Laguna Honda Hospital for the past four years, says much of his work is "rooted in my love and awe of the human body."
Campbell's and his fellow artists' studios will be open both Saturday and Sunday, and admission is free. The opening reception -- at SomArts Gallery, 934 Brannan Street -- is also free and will be Friday, Oct. 5, from 5 to 8:30 p.m.
A special preview, providing an exclusive first look at one piece of work by each of the participating artists, will be held Oct. 4, from 6:30 to 10 p.m., also at SomArts Gallery. Tickets for this event are $100 to $125 via www.artspan.org or 861-9838. For all other information about Open Studios, call 646-0959, or visit www.sfopenstudios.com. M