Gallery Profile: 18 Reasons ~ Asterisk SF Magazine Food Issue

On a cool, breezy summer evening, music emanates from the middle of the block on 18th Street, steps away from Dolores Park. The lovely voice of a woman summons, rather easily, others to a delightful space. Stepping inside, there are vibrant and colorful drawings of sweet breads and cakes adorning the walls. The music that lured people in is just as intoxicating as the wine and food served. A songstress taps at an upside-down metal bucket fashioned into a stringed instrument while singing with perfect key and timing. Looking around, the tables are filled with people and food. One of the chefs for the event walks over with sushi wrapped in nori with intricate laser-cut patterning. Sitting down on one of the benches and with possibly the freshest ceviche ever made, it was hard not to feel captivated by the warmth and uniqueness of the space—not your average closing art exhibition. Yet, this is the constant environment and ambiance found at nonprofit organization 18 Reasons.

In 2007, Bi-Rite Market took over the space formerly known as Blue Space from founders Cliff Leonardi and Dan DiPasquo. Paying homage to the iconic San Francisco 17 Reasons sign that served as a part of the Mission District skyscape, Bi-Rite decided to rename the event and gallery space to 18 Reasons after its new home on 18th Street. Despite the bustling surroundings and wide array of eateries in the area, 18 Reasons unites an undeniable combination of art, community, and food. With the objective of creating community through food and art, the programming literally and figuratively caters to the diverse San Francisco community.

The multifaceted approach toward community engagement requires programming and interfacing with the public in ways that offer new perspectives to the community through the arts. Eighteen Reasons offers not only an exploration of food and cooking, but also a multitude of approaches that touch upon more complex issues. Art serves as a great vehicle for broaching real-world problems in relation to consumption and our overall relationship to food. Regarding the greater curatorial practice, 18 Reasons curator Casey Carroll elaborates on her vision of the space as a gallery: “Beyond encouraging pleasure and a deeper appreciation of food and those that produce it (both the environment and our farmers), my vision is to push the envelope and encourage open dialogue that addresses some of the rougher sides of food: commodification, labor infringements, animal abuse, poor nutrition, hunger, and beyond.” Carroll adds that “each art show is tailored to the individual artist and the concept or vision that guides their work. What sets our programming and curating at 18 Reasons apart is that the art on the walls never stands alone. The programming that surrounds each display showcases its interconnection and interdependence with the culinary arts and social practice.”

Lastly, the art programming at 18 Reasons entails the Bathroom Residency. Yes, it is exactly what you think. The yearlong artist residency allows for an artist to create artworks for the 18 Reasons restroom. Believe it or not, this takes an incredible amount of innovation and strategic thinking around how to utilize the space. Granted, many restrooms have some sort of decorative artworks, but these residents make using the space an unforgettable experience. Carroll describes the Bathroom Residency as “the second piece in a long-term project entitled The Residencies, which launched in 2009 during Julie Kahn’s stay at the Headlands Center for the Arts. Julie decided to take over our bathroom for the year and install amazing works of art that ranged from Eucalyptus branches springing out of the wall to laser-cut nori. Julie wanted to stay true to our roots and make the residency feel seasonal, which is why each artist has four different installations over the course of the year.”

Originally posted to Asterisk SF Magazine + Gallery site, please view here

Advertisements

Author: Dorothy R. Santos

Dorothy R. Santos is a writer, editor, curator, and educator whose research areas and interests include new media and digital art, activism, artificial intelligence, networked culture, and biotechnology. Born and raised in San Francisco, California, she holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisco, and received her Master’s degree in Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts. She is currently the managing editor for Hyphen magazine. Her work appears in art21, Art Practical, Daily Serving, Rhizome, Hyperallergic, and Public Art Dialogue. She has lectured and spoken at the De Young museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Stanford University, School of Visual Arts, and more. Her essay “Materiality to Machines: Manufacturing the Organic and Hypotheses for Future Imaginings,” has been published to The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture in 2016. She serves as executive staff for the Bay Area Society for Art & Activism, board member for the SOMArts Cultural Center, and teaches at the University of California, Santa Cruz in the Digital Art and New Media department.

1 thought on “Gallery Profile: 18 Reasons ~ Asterisk SF Magazine Food Issue”

  1. Have you ever noticed the best food critics are the ones who just eat with gusto and never say a word?

    By the way, I’ve already had escargot (delicious when cooked just right, like how the French do it, and I’ve had Beluga caviar- out of this world.

    But I’ve never yet tasted truffles. If a friend of mine goes back to France I’m going to beg him into procuring some.

    On Casey Carroll, the very reason I was telling my photographer friend that although I’m not much of an artist myself, I hold them in the highest esteem because of their ability to reach out in profound ways..

    .”to push the envelope and encourage open dialogue that addresses some of the rougher sides of food: commodification, labor infringements, animal abuse, poor nutrition, hunger, and beyond.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s