Zach Klein, a SoEx board member and co-founder of the video-sharing site Vimeo, had brought members of his current company DIY (a creative projects site for kids) to the installation. As they entered Parker’s “steam egg,” members of the team, echoing the lingua franca of the tech world, began describing a heightened sense of connectedness, both with others moving through the installation and with the space itself. As Lisa Martin, Communications and Outreach director at SoEx, reiterated, this experiential aspect of art has the potential to connect long-time members of the arts community with newer arrivals to the Bay Area.
As with the open spaces at Minnesota Street, SoEx creates an environment where visitors can see artists at work and watch an installation take shape in real-time. Advocating for this porousness between art and daily life, Maloney wants to enable “experiences that shake people out of the status quo in a way that increases arts patronage, but that can also positively change the values and aspirations of people who are exposed to them.”
To help such experiences take root and grow, the San Francisco government might take a look across the Bay. While the city of Oakland is not without its own challenges, it was through official support that the Oakland Art Murmur, a walk between eight galleries in 2005, became the full-throated, monthly cultural event of 25,000 visitors that today is Oakland First Fridays. The region will need more initiatives like that one, and increased support from the government and tech industry, to ensure the health not only of the larger gallery imports—the Gagosians and the Paces—but also of spaces with deep cultural roots, like the Mission District’s Galería de la Raza.
The Bay Area was a beacon for artists, political revolutionaries, and counter-cultural ideals before it became the epicenter of forces that have changed the way people interact and do business across the world. Despite the clash of cultures that continues to unfold in cities around the Golden Gate, there are many reasons to be optimistic about art’s victorious spirit there.