Labyrinth Preview

Juxtapoz // Thursday, 08 Sep 2005
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ONSIX Gallery curators Sham Saenz and Chris Fitzpatrick have been working hard putting together a three-gallery/four-space art show that opens tonight [Friday, September 9th, 2005 | 7pm - 2am] in the greater "Sixth Street & Market" area of San Francisco.

It's a part of town in flux. Gentrification is creeping throughout SoMA, with gourmet groceries and lofts still being built even five years after the dot com money has gone away. The art galleries in this area are not part of that bright and shiny upswing though.

ONSIX, The Luggage Store Gallery, and Red Ink Studios (with two locations) will be displaying paintings, photography, installation, ceramics, sculpture, sound and video, and the general jumble of roughly 60 local and international artists in conjunction with one another for an exhibition called "Labyrinth." This is no clean and tidy middle-class art though. The art in these galleries reflects the neighborhood they're in. Rough on the surface and sometimes to the core, but there is beauty to be found if you look.

Wednesday afternoon, I stopped by ONSIX to see if I could get an in-progress looksee at what to expect. Sham took me on a tour of three of the four spaces (The Luggage Store was closed.) Between the galleries, I took a look around. As I tried to focus my lens across the street on Hooker's Gumbo Shack, I heard someone say, "Hold on before you take that picture!" and a scantily dressed woman with a big unhealing sore on the side of her arm walked quickly past my lens. After I took my shot, I passed her on the sidewalk ushering a group of nervous-looking older dudes up a dark stairway.

There's a lot of construction going on in the general area of Sixth and Market. The streets are all torn up and traffic is a nightmare right now. Maybe they're fixing the sewage system, but maybe they're trying to fix up one of San Francisco's big unhealing sores.

It's a bad part of town, but it's never been bad to me. I've been down there many times, day and night, walked around and taken photos of people, graffiti, buildings and trash, all while being generally unhassled and ignored. As much as I like a good gourmet grocery, I also like a bit of beautiful decay.

And, it's there. In the galleries, the art is odd, dirty, goofy, dark and light, and unusual, all of it brilliantly-executed and full of heart. On the street, there are amazing graffiti murals, wacky paste-ups, and opportunities to switch up your grill to something really shiny at the Gold Teeth shop.

As progress inevitably comes, and unblemished facades are built up around the obvious prostitution and drug use, Sixth and Market will probably remain a walk on the wild side for a long time. I kinda like it like that.

[[ Click here for sneak peek at the art (and the 'hood) ]]

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