‘Survival mode’ kicks in for many artists on both sides of SF Bay in spite of rising costs

By Frank Ladra | Bay News Rising

Aug 22, 2014

The slowly evolving and potentially declining state of San Francisco’s art community is hardly a new topic of discussion around the water cooler these days. As elevated real estate costs continue to drive gallery curators out of the city, some artists have risen to the challenge, drawing upon creativity and survival instincts in an effort to outlive the trending tech revolution.


With art preservation as their main focus, Oakland Art Murmur uses public programming and community outreach to increase awareness and participation in Oakland’s budding art establishment.

“Art is something important for an urban environment and it is difficult for artists that don’t have backing to make that happen,” said Meyers. “Art Murmur is an institution built from a desire for artists to work together for the greater community.”

From July 4 until August 9, Root Division, in collaboration with Aggregate Space and Adobe Books Backroom Gallery,  featured a multi venue exhibition called Survival Adaptations, which explored responses to the current economic climate of the Bay Area.

Aimed at showing how artistic communities and individuals adapt and survive in the changing environment, Survival Adaptations compared the instinctual migration and survival techniques to animalistic nature, dictating that “in order to survive and thrive in specific environments, animal species have developed a host of amazing characteristics that help them find food, protect themselves, [and] cope with tough environments.”

The show was designed to engage discussion around current hot buttons like housing relocation, gentrification, and the “beauty and infrastructure that ties San Francisco and Oakland together,” according to the gallery’s promotional release. Gallery attendees were asked what the economically driven relocation of cultural administrators, institutions, artists, and residents of racial, economic, and age diversity means for the future of San Francisco.

“It’s good to have an event to round out the conversation and change what happens in the art scene,” said Willis. “We want to change change the conversations from “What are we going to do?” to “This is what we are doing now.”

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