The first contemporary art festival in San Francisco’s Chinatown is making a very persuasive argument to carve out a large chunk of your Saturday for a free, outdoor and truly multimedia extravaganza. Among the art forms listed for “Neon Was Never Brighter: A Glimpse into the Future,” taking place on April 30, are augmented reality, site-specific installation, fashion and scent (!).
The day’s many diversions, provided by nearly 30 artists and collectives, are presented by the Chinatown Media & Arts Collaborative (CMAC), a partnership of local organizations that includes the Chinese Historical Society and the Chinese Cultural Center. “Neon Was Never Brighter” is CMAC’s first public event, a kind of proof-of-concept for what the future holds as the project works on its permanent home. In 2021, the state allocated $26.5 million to CMAC to purchase and develop 800 Grant Ave. into Edge on the Square, a new Asian Pacific Islander arts and media center scheduled to open a block from Portsmouth Square in spring 2025.
On Saturday, artists’ projects are distributed throughout the neighborhood with some on view for the duration; events are timed to allow audiences to flit from one showcase to another.
Not to be missed is Mike Arcega and Paolo Asuncion’s TNT Traysikel, a vibrantly painted motorcycle and sidecar, which will be on the move 3–10pm. This mobile sculpture/karaoke booth creates an instantaneous party wherever it stops—just follow your ears.