Handicap Accessible: Yes
Staff Size: 11–25
Parking: Metered street parking
Most popular offering: Visual art & performance
Pro Tip: SOMArts unique, post-industrial art venue can be a bit chilly in winter—dress warmly.
Good for Kids: Yes
Walk-ins Welcome: Yes
Q&A with the Communications Director
What sets your business apart from your competition?
Founded in 1979, SOMArts embraces the entire spectrum of arts practice and cultural identity, and it is beloved in San Francisco as a truly multicultural, community-built space where cutting-edge events and counterculture commingle with traditional art forms. The post-industrial building references the history of the neighborhood. SOMArts' facility, a former machine manufacturing plant, is a 26,190 square foot space featuring a 99-seat expandable black box theater, darkroom, printmaking, ceramics and dance studios, several classrooms and two large galleries.
What was the inspiration for starting this business?
The mission of SOMArts is to promote and nurture art on the community level, and to foster an appreciation of and respect for all cultures.
What is the best reaction you’ve ever gotten from a customer?
"By far - one of the coolest art venues and spaces that I have been to in a while. SOMArts is a truly impressive and rockin' art and community facility in the city. Their exhibitions are curated with a slew of well though-out insight and passion (try to ask for a tour if you can), their outdoor garden is picturesque and cultivated beautifully, and their indoor space is massive and so adaptable (just check out the slew of different events and organizations that they work with)." – Jessica T. on Yelp
What’s your favorite part about your job?
Working with exciting experimental and emerging San Francisco artists!
Examining the Exhibitor: The Art of Nicomi Nix Turner
Raised in Southern Oregon, Nicomi Nix Turner began drawing inspiration from nature early in life. The leaf and the bug captured her attention as much as the human form. That shows in her art, which traverses the boundaries between organisms. While her work is rife with symbolism, she often refers to her style as anatomical deconstructionism. She combines complex textures and broken silhouettes to create an image of many disparate elements.
Her piece Of Clandestine Nature, for instance, never quite fully depicts anything. Instead, she layers together flower petals with cacophonous butterfly and moth wings, creating an intricate, otherworldly shape in the midst of an otherwise blank page. At points, the foliage and limbs part to reveal snippets of a human face and skull, arranged in no particular order. It might seem conceptually grotesque if it weren’t for the beauty and perfect smoothness of every aspect of the rendering. As she puts it: “I work with a pencil in attempts to ‘paint’ with the graphite, and with paper because of the unforgiving quality it possesses.”
Varnish Fine Art
Many people believe that art makes the world a better place. Not all of them put their money where their mouth is, though. In 2003, Jen Rogers and Keri Stephens decided to do just that, opening an appointment-only exhibition gallery showcasing the finest, most skillful contemporary artists they can find. Contributors range from abstract sculptors to modern surrealists, and the collection changes regularly.
Reflecting on this childhood, Chris Keating sometimes feels as if he didn't exist. His parents' divorce left him with very little tangible evidence of his formative years, so he's spent his adult life as a photographer making sure children can look back fondly at warm family memories. Chris Keating and his Calgary staff have made this a reality for more than 3,000 families since opening the doors to Towne Photography in 2006. There, the professional photographic crew shoots posed and candid shots of families, children, couples, and babies at picturesque parks or against their studio backdrops, and they also snap triumphant graduate portraits, intimate prenatal shots, and provocative passport pics that make border crossing a breeze. Their ironclad guarantee allows unsatisfied clients to request reshoots, reprints, or resizing on all photographs, and they vow to remake or recapture any artwork that sustains damage over the years. Chris also takes his photographic knowledge on the road to conduct Betterphoto Workshops across the United States and Canada, teaching novice photographers how to artistically preserve their most precious memories.
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In the heart of the Mission District on Folsom Street is the Red Poppy Art House which has hosted many performances, exhibitions, workshops, and artist residencies. In this small space where the creative process lives and art and music flourish is a feeling of community. This volunteer-run artist’s studio/performance space features the power of music and art, and how that power can touch something in the souls of visitors there. In fact, what they say they like best about the Red Poppy Art House is that its environment that encourages visitors to take down the walls the separate them from other people with like interests there. People talk to each other. Friendships are born. Artists are inspirited. Come to a musical performance and you’ll be able to almost reach out and touch the performer. It’s that intimate. The center is open Tuesday through Saturday.
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