Nucleus for New Art in San Francisco

By Bill Bulkley

Photo by Brian Brooks

For years the Lower Haight has been a center of the local new art movement primarily because of the international design and clothing enterprise Upper Playground (220 Fillmore). The business is a Lower Haight icon with venues in Berkeley, Portland, London, and Mexico City. Their associated art space Fifty24SF Gallery (218 Fillmore) showcases local, California, and international artists. The show for April/May is Los Angeles based artist Johnny “KMNDZ” Rodriguez.

The new kid on the block, but by no means in town, is Fecal Face Dot Gallery (FFDG) which recently moved from their postage stamp gallery on Gough Street to a new postage stamp gallery in the Lower Haight (248 Fillmore). But size doesn’t matter as this venue packs a punch with challenging work by rising local and other West Coast artists, primarily. Their website, for over a decade,, “ chronicl(es)… the contemporary arts scene in the SF Bay Area and beyond.” The April show at FFDG is Portland based artist Josh Keyes followed in May by SF artist Henry Gunderson.

Stand alone galleries are rare. Many promising art venues are doubling or tripling their programming to hedge the economic risks of the art market. D-Structure San Francisco (520 Haight) features “Broken Gears”, by Sean Sczepanik in April. Their “flagship store is an art gallery…boutique, print shop, design house and event space.” Lower Haters (597 Haight) is also a gallery and clothing boutique that features local, California, and international artists. The April show here features local artist Pete Dolittle. Even Edo Salon, the beauty and gallery boutique, features fresh drawings and installation by the L.A.-based artist Ron Rege Jr.

The streets of the Lower Haight are filled with inspiration for the new art movement: graffiti, murals, tattoo parlors, music outlets, comics, and skate culture. The recent amalgam of art venues reinforces the sense of community and the seriousness of the art aesthetic happening here.