Noe Valley Voice September 2011

Their Studios, Your Gallery

Noe Artists Open Their Doors

By Heather World

Kit Cameron: Still Life with Ganesh

Noe Valley becomes a neighborhood of sculpture, photography, and painting galleries open to the public Oct. 1 and 2, the first weekend of San Francisco’s month-long, self-guided Open Studios art festival.

Organized by the nonprofit ArtSpan for the past 36 years, Open Studios provides an opportunity to both emerging artists and established professionals to display their talents. Studios are open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The event is great for art lovers and artists alike, says Kit Cameron, whose paintings and drawings will fill her 200-square-foot studio (419 28th St.).

Gail Siegel: Necklace, Multichain Leaf

“In Open Studios, artists have an opportunity to start a relationship with people,” says Cameron, a Noe Valley resident since 1977. “It’s a more intimate encounter.”

The upside of Open Studios is more than finding a good bargain, although that is part of it too, she says. Seeing an artist’s work in the artist’s workplace tells the buyer more about the artist than would a piece in a gallery show.

“You can define the exhibit as you wish,” Cameron says.

Gail Siegel (1275 Noe St.) creates metal, wire, and mixed-media wall sculpture, baskets, and jewelry—a wide range of art.

“It’s a very good venue to show my stuff because I have a chance to put almost everything out, whereas when I show in galleries and stores, it’s a very limited range,” says Siegel, who has lived in Noe Valley for 30 years.

She has cultivated relationships with a few collectors, thanks in part to Open Studios, she says. Still, she has noticed fewer visitors as the economy slowed down. She moved from a group studio show in the Mission to her studio in Noe four years ago, and had 30 or 40 visitors the first year. Last year, only a dozen people came.

Photographer Ari Salomon says traffic to his living-room studio (16 Abbey St.) is often less than when he’s exhibited with groups of artists. However, a chunk of those who do come are collectors who’ve already singled out artists they like from the catalog or at the Open Studios Exhibition, which runs the month of October at SOMArts Gallery, 934 Brannon St.

“Though there are fewer people, they’re already interested in my art,” says Salomon, whose panoramic pictures from cities around the world pull the viewer around corners and up staircases.

The diversity of neighborhood artists reflects that of the city. There are the David Hockney-like saturated landscapes of David Barnett (1370 Noe St., #3), mixed-media collages by Jacob Fisher (3924 19th St.), the antiquities-like sculptures of Javier Perez (67 Landers St.), and the pulp fiction prints of Katie Gilmartin (4037 24th St.).

About two dozen studios in Noe Valley were listed in the Open Studios guide at press time, and more will likely follow, says Lindsay Barrick of ArtSpan.

“We usually have about 800 artists citywide that open their studios each weekend in October,” she says.

Each zip code is assigned a specific weekend, and Noe’s weekend also includes Bernal Heights, the Castro, the Excelsior, and the Mission. In mid-September, ArtSpan will publish a free guide that provides a list of all artists and studio locations. You can pick one up at Phoenix Books, 3957 24th St. For more information, visit

Ari Salomon: Tokyo, East Shinjuku, 2007