SFAQ is an arts quarterly published in San Francisco with an ever-expanding scope that includes a new pop-up gallery in the Tenderloin, SFAQ [Project] Space. Founder Andrew McClintock, who also operates Ever Gold Gallery, aims to initiate projects that “exist outside of the mainstream and outside of corporate control.” SFAQ was already commissioning new work, so the new space will showcase and expand that realm. As McClintock explained, “I've seen the desire from artists at all levels to want to have a platform to experiment in an industry that doesn't allow much room for it anymore since it's so market-driven.” The Kenneth Rainin Foundation is a funder of the new space, and McClintock says they are filling a gap by supporting arts programs around the Tenderloin and mid-Market area.
Many artists feel that the larger SF institutions don’t support local artists and projects, so this civic duty is left to the alternative organizations. Amy Franceschini created the inaugural physical exhibition for the SFAQ [Project] Space. She is an internationally successful artist who creates most of her interactive projects abroad these days, and she likes the idea of doing something new in her home city, “Honestly, I have not done anything here for so long that it felt exciting to think about what I would do here now.”
Franceschini’s project investigates the shifting social landscape in San Francisco, as she explained, “The Conjurer is a tracing of three economic epochs in San Francisco through the purchase of three shares of stock (gold, grain and Google), the procurement of related raw materials, and the enactment of a magic trick performed by The Reality Thief (aka Brad Barton).” Referencing the famous “cups trick,” Franceschini made a custom set of cups and cement balls that are a nod to SF artist David Ireland’s 1989 sculpture Dumb Balls. Her project is a vehicle for exploring the new face of The City. “As a resident of SF since 1989, I have seen the city change and form into something I do not recognize anymore. Underlying all of this change is a fierce engine of capital which operates similar to magic. The key to the cups trick, also known as the shell game, is to simultaneously build confidence and distract your audience.”
This experimental, interactive project is indicative of how SFAQ will operate as a physical space. Franceschini expressed excitement, “I feel SFAQ is in its infancy. It will be exciting to see where it may go. I was excited to see the unfamiliar faces at the opening. For me, it was a great opportunity to meet younger artists and newcomers to this city—part of making sense of this new landscape.” McClintock has programmed the next four months with Tuesday night lectures and Thursday night performances and screenings, along with exhibits, interventions, short-term projects and more. As Andrew McClintock notes, “It’s a social sculpture and also a mini institution.”
SFAQ [Project] Space is located at 449 O’Farrell Street in San Francisco.
See a video about Amy Franceschini and her collective, Futurefarmers, on KQED Art School.