In 1999, when Jack Hanley reopened the Jack Hanley Gallery at 395 Valencia (after a two year hiatus from San Francisco), he did more than open a gallery. For better or for worse -- in terms of gentrification, that is -- the Jack Hanley Gallery, version two, acted as an epicenter for a new artistic movement, along with Adobe Books and the Clarion Alley Mural Project.
The movement was called the Mission School, and Hanley's choice of location was in keeping with its overall philosophy: in the words of critic Glen Helfand, it was a DIY movement rooted in place, not "the shiny, distanced intellectual aura of art theory." Many of Hanley's artists -- Alicia McCarthy, Shaun O'Dell, Chris Johanson -- drew inspiration both in and on the streets of the Mission, doubling as graffiti artists and muralists, and the new Jack Hanley was now in their backyard: just up the street from 16th and Mission and across from the Valencia Gardens housing project. Parties were had, music was played, and the Mission School went international.
"Faces," Chris Johanson
San Franciscans both loathe the (East Coast) art industry and crow when we manage to infiltrate it. Thanks largely to the success of the Mission School, Jack Hanley has managed to do exactly this, moving the art of local San Franciscans into apartments and collections worldwide. At the same time, the gallery has also provided a showcase for San Franciscans to see cutting edge contemporary art from other US cities.
Part of the success of this recipe is that Jack Hanley has always maintained a multi-city presence, splitting his time between San Francisco, LA, and New York. And unfortunately for San Francisco, after nearly two decades of risk-taking and innovation, on April 28 the Jack Hanley Gallery in San Francisco will close its doors for good so that Hanley can concentrate his energy on the New York branch of his operation. It will be a sad, sad day indeed.
"They're All You," Alicia McCarthy
Until then, however, there is The Final Show, which includes newish works by a variety of soon-to-be alumni. If there is solace to be found, it is in the artists Hanley has fostered: Alicia McCarthy's drawings and Chris Johanson's starburst paintings (perfect complements), for example, or Carter's defaced laser print "Within Area Arranged" (2010). They, at least, will stay part or our visual landscape for a long time to come.
The Final Show is at Jack Hanley Gallery in San Francisco through April 28, 2010. For more information visit jackhanley.com.