The Art-Bank: Preface.
-by Jaswinder S. Khalsa
The story of Local Maker Mart begins with something so unlikely as to border on astonishing, and yet, is exactly what you might expect in San Francisco: a handful of DJs, poets, and painters put an art gallery in an abandoned bank in the heart of North Beach.
“The old Citibank,” as it had been called for years, had been vacant and dark for so long that it was all but invisible to everyone except vagrants looking for a place to rest without getting in anyone’s way. In what seemed like a matter of mere days, it was suddenly filled with bright lights, irresistibly loud music, and mountains of unique, often stunning artwork, all of it made by Bay Area locals and natives.
How in the world did they, did we, pull this off, and get away with it?
It’s the autumn of 2019, late in the evening, on a seat beside a second-story window overlooking the intersection of Columbus, Kearney, and Pacific. This patently-SF traffic light is home to Mr. Bings, Comstock Saloon, and is just a half a block from Specs and Vesuvios. The place is Node, a coworking space with a triangular floor plan and unusually low ceilings. Node is a collective in the true sense of the word: a gathering place for the contemporary Renaissance men and women of San Francisco. If you stick around after one of their events, you’re likely to find yourself discussing anything from taboo political opinions to the best things happening in music nobody is talking about to how you actually set your rates as a freelancer to who can teach you the basics of a programming language.
And this time, the late-night conversation is about the birth of an idea, and the people who are going to deliver it into the world: moving a pop-up gallery and event venue by and for local artists into the old bank at Columbus and Green. The same old bank that, rumor has it, had been shown 200 times, with all 200 ending in the word NO. The same bank that was rumored to have an asking price of $87,000 PER MONTH. Read that again. Eighty-seven thousand dollars and no cents (pun intended), due on the first of the month, twelve months a year, until you inevitably resort to selling timeshares on asteroids to subsidize your overhead. Hey, you laugh, but the view is amazing.
Moving an art gallery that hosts live events by local DJs and musicians into this space isn’t Goldilocks sneaking into the home of the three bears: it’s Little Red Riding Hood sneaking into the den of the wolfpack and saying “bite me.” On November 22nd of 2019, that’s just what we did. We’re still here. And this part of the story might just have more to do with all of you than any of us. Dear reader: read on.
Day by day, you came through our doors and let us share our vision and our passion for art, music, and creative community with you. You supported our artists by taking their work home with you. You brought us artwork of your own, or you brought your friend who’s been painting for years into our space. You shared your ideas for a fun event to do in “the art bank,” and you made all the necessary introductions to make it happen. You came to our parties, with your squad in tow, and told your friends what a great night it was. You gave us that precious sensation of momentum, of traction. Each and every one of you gave us the confidence to think of Local Maker Mart as a long term project: a fixed presence and, perhaps, one day, a staple of North Beach just like Columbus Cafe or Caffe Sport just a few doors up the street from us.
Believe me when I tell you that it never fails to bring tears of gratitude to my eyes when I think of the way so many of you fell in love with both the vision for and the reality of our gallery at first sight. More times than I could count if I tried, my fellow collaborators and I have discussed, at length, how absolutely blown away we have been by your support, joy, appreciation, and selfless offerings of help in the form of everything from forwarding valuable contacts, coming in on your days off to create new art installations, or bringing us lunch when we couldn’t step out of the gallery (yes, really!). You walked through our doors and, daily and hourly, showed us that, sometimes, dreams really do come true. I will never forget what I heard from more of you than I can count: “thank you. This gives me hope again. Don’t ever give up.” And, how could we, how can we, even now, if giving up also means letting all of you down? Never. Again, a thousand times: Never.
With that being said:
- Our North Beach Essentials: Curbside Kiosk will be open Tuesday-Sunday from 12pm-6pm
- Our New Advertising Endeavor www.Valueads.org is offering discount ad's on our huge 7x12' LED wall right on the corner of Stockton and Green
- Our Live Streaming Studio is officially open for booking! email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more info or simply use peerspace!