A map of the Mission's galleries and art spaces.

Sarah Hotchkiss and Kellie Flint knew that Southern Exposure’s gallery guide was out of date, but it wasn’t until they sat down to review the list of art spaces recently that they realized how much had changed.

It took just minutes for the 2010 Mission Arts Trail Guide to become covered in ink as they crossed out gallery after gallery, marked others “moved” or “replaced, ” and labeled some with simply a question mark.

At least 14 galleries and art spaces have closed in the Mission in the last few years, and at least three have relocated as rents have become increasingly high.

“There is always good and bad,” said artist Jeremy Sutton, who has a studio on Bryant Street. For him, the influx of the wealthier tech crowd has translated into increased income. “Now professional artists are earning a living. It is good when the economy picks up and people have the money to spend on art.”

Sutton has been riding out the boom successfully, but his art is also relevant to the Mission’s new residents: he uses apps to generate works on an iPad. Sutton’s digital paintings have been so successful that they have earned him a spot at the de Young Museum’s Friday Nights, where he will be showcasing the process in November.

He says the 40 or so other artists in his building at 1890 Bryant Street, where Sutton has worked since 2006, are doing similarly well.

Other spaces have proven more vulnerable. Guerrero Gallery’s widely mourned announcement that it would be closing this month was surprising because it was exactly the sort of spot you would expect to benefit from the Facebook IPO. Young and well-dressed Missionites crowded into its final exhibition and interest in Ben Venom’s quilted heavy metal T-shirts ran high.

And yet, it wasn’t enough. The gallery cited changes in the city’s landscape as the reason for their need to move on.

It wasn’t the first to leave. Other recent casualties include the Michael Rosenthal and Encantada Gallery on Valencia, and Triple Base on 24th Street.

Individual artists have also faced the new rent realities. Mission artist Rene Yañez, who founded the Mission Cultural Center and the Galería de la Raza, is currently facing eviction from his San Jose Avenue home under the Ellis Act.

Allyson Seal, who has a studio at Art Explosion, said that despite the greater presence of the tech crowd at Art Explosion’s annual open studios last month, Seal didn’t sell anything.

“Art Explosion is always full, but this year it was a very different crowd – palpably younger. There was more of the Google, Apple, Facebook crowd. There was a different feel to it.”

Seal sees artists adapting by redefining what constitutes a gallery – primarily by setting up hybrid art spaces that double as retail stores. She says that selling more commercial items such as greeting cards provides owners of these spaces with a steady stream of revenue to support a small gallery space. The art also tends to be more affordable than traditional gallery spaces.

“It’s not that the shops are trying to fill the gallery void, but their style is not high-end, it’s more affordable. This is what is sticking around.”

Fewer galleries here, however, has not meant an end to new gallery space. Downtown galleries such as Catharine Clark and Hosfelt are finding their way to Potrero Hill and some are calling Utah Street a new arts district. For those more traditional galleries where paintings by Chris Doyle and Kara Maria can sell for much more than the price of a greeting card, the rents in the neighborhood are a bargain.

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Living in the Mission District feels a lot like home for former Brooklyn resident Emily Gibson. Both neighborhoods are happening cultural centers with their own unique stories to tell. As an arts reporter, Gibson, 28, hopes to highlight under-reported Latin cultural events and their role in the larger contemporary art scene.

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  1. One commenter has posted 21 of 49 comments on this page.

    Does this situation serve the purpose of these comment pages or do these comment pages serve an obsessive individual?

  2. As I am sure most readers already know, social darwinism is a long discredited theory along with the Earth being flat and being the center of the universe.

    1. Ooh, this sounds like fun.

      Socialism is a long discredited theory along with the earth being flat and being the center of the universe.

      1. Wrong. Socialism, the notion that the SOCIETY matters more than the individual, has never been more clearly beneficial.

        Capitalism / Socialism mixtures (Western Europe) produce the best quality of life for the most people.

        Capitalism / Bribeocracy (USA of recent decades) is in the process of imploding and unambiguously discrediting itself.

        1. All very fascinating, but I’m not clear what that has to do with determining how many galleries are optimal for the Mission, versus other types of establishments, entities and businesses

  3. Now the true colors emerge. A death wish for those who don’t adapt to the liking of anon, oops John.

    I encourage readers and commenters to read the comment pages of sfbg.com to understand where these pages are headed.

    1. Nice try, landline, but can you explain to me why natural selection is inconsistent with the capitalist society in which we dwell and, indeed, which we re-select every elecction?

      And for the record, the only “death” is having to live a few miles from SF, which you may even find that you prefer, particularly if that is fiscally more relevant for your circumstances.

    1. And also beware those who do not discuss the topic but merely repeatedly attack others and their viewpoints.

      Not exactly that famed San Francisco tolerance, huh?

  4. “It doesn’t matter that Oakland is a separate city. That’s the mistake that San Francisco exceptionalists always make i.e. that Oakland is somehow a different world.”

    – Actually John, this does in fact matter. It’s in a separate county, has different laws, a different bus system, etc. I don’t think it’s a completely different world, but it’s not quite the same as living in SF.

    “BART should run later, but there are all-night buses, plus cabs and so on. And that is only for the small minority with very odd hours. Most people still work 9 to 5.”

    Yes, BART should run later but currently doesn’t. With the ways things are going now, it doesn’t look like that will happen anytime soon. The buses are far more limited than you think and the idea of late night workers paying expensive cab fares home 5 nights a week is laughable. How do know this group is a small minority? Have you read through any recent labor reports?

    “My point is that if SF becomes unaffordable, it won’t matter as long as the surrounding cities and counties remain cheaper. That’s why we built BART in the first place.”

    Oakland hasn’t remained cheaper, rents are steadily increasing there as well. Your point is relying on things that either haven’t happened yet (the Bay Area uniting into one city ala NYC) or won’t happen (rent remaining cheap in Oakland or other nearby cities).

    “People need to lose this idea that they just “have” to be in SF. They don’t.”

    I actually agree with this 100%. Of course, this applies to you too, John.

    1. Z, viewing San Francisco as some kind of city island without the supporting hinterland is missing the bigger picture. Most major US cities extend across tens of miles and the Bay Area is no exception, even if there is a body of water in the middle.

      Yes, different BA cities and counties have (slightly) different laws, but that doesn’t prevent them cooperating and coordinating on various policies, of which BART and the new bay bridge span are only the most obvious examples.

      I’ve been watching Oakland RE prices and a condo or loft that would be 900K in SF is about 300K in West Oakland, just 10 minutes from downtown SF. Rents are proportionate, and people need to be more flexible.

      Many of the people who are lamenting that SF is too pricey should not be here in the first place. We should not be setting city policy based on the absurd aspirations of those who lack the skills to afford to be here, but want to be here anyway. They need to grow up and get realistic.

      1. “Many of the people who are lamenting that SF is too pricey should not be here in the first place. We should not be setting city policy based on the absurd aspirations of those who lack the skills to afford to be here, but want to be here anyway. They need to grow up and get realistic.”

        Don’t worry, artists aren’t going to want to stay here for long the way the city is headed. Then you tech-guys can all talk about the latest Best Buy deals over a round of blooming onions at TGIFridays without useless people interested in culture and community getting in your way.

        1. Nobody says the Bay Area cannot have artists. Only that perhaps living in San Francisco rather than, say, Oakland, might not be the smartest lifestyle decision they can make.

      2. John,

        I don’t view SF as a city island and would like to see more integration with other Bay Area cities. However, we’re years away from seeing the type of changes you’re talking about. As things stand now, the displacement that’s occurring because of evictions and skyrocketing rents in SF will have destabilizing effects throughout the Bay Area accompanied by very little of the measures needed (improved mass transit, more residential construction) to mitigate these issues.

        Your solution of advising people to move to Oakland is not taking into account the displacement that will occurr there as a result of the mass influx of people from SF. Kicking out longtime lower and middle class residents in SF and nearby BA cities is not an effective long term strategy for dealing with population growth.

        I hate to break this to you John, but representing the views of a segment of wealthy BA dwellers on a few websites doesn’t make you Lord of the Bay. Flexibility will be required of you as well. There are actual human lives involved here, not projections on an Excel sheet. This situation is far more complex than you may think.

        1. Z, I am saying little more here than describing a reality. While some places of the US and the planet are becoming poorer, the SF Bay Area and other enclaves of affluence are becoming wealthier.

          This situation cannot credibly be gainsayed and so must be accepted at face value. And that will indeed involve the gradual displacement of some populations and their replacement with others.

          But far from that being a tragedy, it is as much an opportunity, and in any event that has been going on in the US for centuries.

          We are a nation of change and mobility. to expect sclerotic levels of European immobility and entitlement grates with most Americans, and rightly so.

          If the poorer elements need to percolate out to the further reaches of the Bay Area conurbation then, while that might be inconvenient for them, it is in the best interest of our local economy.

          Adapt or die doesn’t seem an unreasonable request.

          1. Reality is what individuals shape it to be John. Unfortunately, none of us have the capability to have things 100% our way. I don’t necessarily disagree with some of your viewpoints but feel you are being unrealistic about how this will all play out.

            The Bay Area is still left leaning enough to the point where you’re going to come up against a lot of resistance to any proposals that give wealthy individuals the complete freedom to displace massive amounts of the existing population. There are far more people of modest means living here than HNI’s.Unless you own a private army, good luck on getting everybody to leave quietly.

            Yes, this is a nation of change and mobility. But it’s also a nation that celebrates underdogs fighting against larger powers, whether it’s big government or big corporations. It remains to be seen if sentiments will align with your side.

            John, I’d really like to watch you stand in front of residents of West Oakland and Bayview and tell them to ‘Adapt or die”. How well do you think that would go for you? Do you think any of those people would care to listen to your Ayn Rand-derived philosophical viewpoints?

          2. Z, well the glib answer is that I do not have to stand up in front of anyone because i am not advocating any change to what is happening, and therefore have no need to convince anyone of anything.

            Rather I seek merely to explain what is happening so that the people affected can see it in the context of the bigger picture.

            And yes, the disenfranchised “great unwashed” hoi polloi may rise up in a revolution. But if Occupy is any indication of how effective that will be, then all we have to do is wait until the weather gets cold, and they will all go away.

            I’m not saying I don’t feel compassion for those displaced, but the idea that everything and everyone can be frozen in time is as undesirable as it is hopeless and irrelevant.

          3. You seem to spend a lot of time advocating your Libertarian viewpoints here and on other SF-based websites. A curious use of time for someone who feels no need to convince anyone of anything no? Yes, you aren’t physically standing in front of anyone here but you’re still pushing your agenda with gusto.

            For you to call U.S. citizens in lower income brackets the “unwashed masses” makes you no different than the European elites you like to rail against. I think you’ll find more resistance coming from other segments of the population though. Namely, other skilled individuals (wealthy or otherwise) who realize that chaotic, massive population displacement will have unfavorable consequences for all involved.

            I don’t believe that everything should be frozen in time. However, this whole process needs to be managed more slowly and carefully. Right now, the housing crisis and ensuing debates are dangerously close to spiraling out of control.

          4. Z, I don’t know what “other websites” you are referring to, and you should perhaps consider the possibility that more than one person holds the same views. After all, the city wouldn’t be this way unless a fair number of its residents liked it that way.

            But my point here was that I am not advocating a change to what is happening, so I am not seeking to change anyone’s mind. Rather I am seeking to explain why things are the way they are.

            I’m not arrogant enough, unlike many activists, to assume that I know better than other people what is good for them. Rather, I claim to see how human nature operates, and I understand why the changes we are seeing are happening.

            In fact, I think there is no other way, and understanding that enables one to accept it with more grace and tolerance.

            While if you are suggesting that the poor will rise up in some kind of violent insurrection against the successful then I can only say that I deem the average American to be far too fat and happy to be assed to ever do that. Just look how Occupy fizzled out into a pathetic farce as soon as it started raining.

            Americans really don’t do socialism.

  5. Mallarmé: “There is only one man who has the right to be an anarchist, Me, the Poet, since I alone make a product that society does not want, in exchange for which it does not give me anything to live on.”

  6. Catherine Clark shows some pretty radical shit. Her artists would be more at home in the Mission than downtown: Sandow Birk, Al Farrow, Travis Sommerville, Stephanie Syjuko…

  7. John–you are ruining this website’s comments section. You say the same thing every day, every post. Your well-written arguments would seem more credible if you didn’t keep repeating them.

    1. Yes, Ed, my opinions are consistent over time. If they appear repetitive it is because others bring up the same points over and over, and the refutation does not change. And because the same topics keep coming up, e.g. evictions.

      Are you sure your assessment isn’t informed by the fact that my viewpoints are less politically correct than some people are comfortable with? Some truths are inconvenient but no less true for that.

      I do not consider that to be “ruining” anything other than perhaps the complacency of some. If the sponsors of this site agree with you, they can write to me. If they do not, we can assume that your categorization is flawed, and that my contributions are welcome.

      1. “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. ”

        – Joseph Goebbels, NAZI Minister of Propaganda

        1. I see Godwin’s Law is kicking in early on this thread.

          Although it has been said that “consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds”, I do find virtue in beliefs upheld over time, despite adverse scrutiny and the most valiant attempts by those with vested interests to debunk them.

          So my apology for restating fundamental truths is going to be muted. I feel sure you similarly do not cower to those who seek to intimidate your right to freely express values that you hold dear.

          Ideas should never scare us.

          1. Two beers, if you have a refutation then actually make it, rather then merely dismissing the other opinion with three-syllable words that you think should impress people.

      2. My assessment is only of the quantity and monotony of your posts. Just because you have a opinion doesn’t mean you have to share it on every article. I think the same of many of nutrisystem’s posts, and I don’t really have any illusions about political correctness in anonymous Internet chat threads.

        If your goal is antagonism or trolling, you are achieving your goals. If you seek dialogue or change, you’re employing a poor rhetorical strategy.

        1. Here’s an idea Ed. Ignore the posts that do not interest you. That’s what I do and it is so much better than getting all bitter because someone somewhere wrote something that you do not like.

          It also doesn’t clutter the comments up with personal attacks masquerading as “advice”.

    2. “Your well-written arguments would seem more credible if you didn’t keep repeating them”

      You are giving him a lot of credit with that half-compliment. His posts are verbose to mask the fact that the ideas within said posts are incredibly misguided.

    1. Who said anyone set fire to any building? If you have evidence of arson, you should contact the authorities.

      While I feel sure many landlords who are trapped by rent control might have thought about it, I am not aware of any cases of a property owner setting fire to his own building.

      If it’s happened, it was probably a SRO which had a lot of fires after the city passed new safety laws that few could afford to implement.

  8. I’ve always wondered how these galleries stay in business. Do they receive grants from the city? The openings I’ve gone to are just filled with people standing around, eating free wine and cheese, and buying nothing.

    1. In the end, a gallery is just a business, and it has to be financially viable to survive.

      A lot of the auto repair shops that used to be in the Mission have gone too. If they can’t make a decent living, chances are that something as fickle as art cannot make it either.

      Indeed, one might argue that there are too many galleries anyway, and that there isn’t enough good art to justify that many. San Francisco is well known in the art world mostly for “experimental” art and, to many people, that just means crap art.

      1. The reason the auto shops and art galleries are disappearing is the same: the rents are too damn high, owing to the carpet-bagging, transient, rape and pillaging infusion of taxpayer-subsidized Wall St/VC capital, which capital needs to be deployed _somewhere_ to seek a chimerical ever-increasing return,

        Most of these internet companies have never, and will never, show a profit, but Wall St has to park its trillions of dollars of QE2 bailout money somewhere, and much of it has landed here.

        Not only is this boom and bust tech-bubble causing skyrocketing rents and mass displacement, but the incoming millenial labor force displacing long-time middle- and working-class people and their families don’t have time for, or even the interest in, art and culture. San Francisco, long one of the country’s cultural meccas, is becoming a boorish, douche-laden wasteland.

        On the bright side, vacancy rates are increasing, and the rate of rent increases is slowing. The aftermath of the coming bubble collapse will be much worse than the previous one.

        1. When you say that the rents are too high, what you actually mean is that the rents are too high for the kind of people whom you personally prefer to have around, but they are not too high for the class of people whom you prefer not to have around.

          So in other words you appear to be making an objective statement “the rents are too high” when that is in fact a purely subjective statement based on your own world view. If the rents were really too high, then nothing would sell or rent, and clearly that isn’t the case.

          To your other comment about San Francisco being a “cultural mecca”, I’d say that is overblown. There is far better art and culture in many other cities e.g. New York, London, Paris, Milan and so on. San Francisco is in fact rather second rate when it comes to art, preferring to focus on “experimental” art which, as noted before, doesn’t appeal to many and particularly those with the money to spend on art.

          San Francisco is, in the end, a provincial city with a second-rate arts scene. What SF does have that’s unique is that it is the world capital of technological innovation. And that is our destiny, if we are to succeed at all, and not as purveyors of second-rate art masquerading as world-class culture.

          1. You are definitely the guy who dragged the sfbg.com comments into the muck.

            Your talking points and word choices are identical. You have just tempered the language and personal attacks (a little) because there is an email address associated with your screen name.

            I am replying to you for the last time as I don’t want to contribute to your pathological need for attention.

            I encourage others to ignore John as well or else these comment pages will be unreadable and unusable in short order, which would be a shame.

          2. So because someone expressed a political opinion you dislike, they are “dragging down” the comments? How tolerant and enlightened of you.

            Maybe if you spent less time dreaming up conspiracy theories and attacking other posters, and more time posting on topic, this comment section wouldn’t feel so “dragged down”.

          3. Those cities became great cultural centers because of a healthy relationship between strong economies/industry and art/cultural patronage. Hopefully the same will be said of San Francisco!

          4. Yes, Resident, I feel sure that there are enough wealthy patrons of the arts to sustain a reasonable number of artists and galleries. But bear in mind that the art market is global these days, and discriminating buyers buy regardless of location.

            Art follows the money, and SF’s affluence bodes well for galleries, just not all of them.

          5. The rents are too high for anyone who isn’t rich.

            No one is saying SF is on NY’s level for art. Nowhere else in the world is on NY’s level for art. But SF has a long and rich art and cultural history. Your lack of knowledge of this betrays you as a gold-digger, a transient here to exploit the boom. Come the bust, you and your type will be nowhere to be found to clean up the mess you’ve made. But not to worry: the middle and working classes will once again bail you out of the consequences of your risky business, leaving you free to ply your trade in another boom and bust locale.

          6. And where are the essential workers for your utopia going to live, John?

            The janitor is far more important to an organization than the CEO. If the CEO misses a week, no one notices. If the janitor misses a day, the organization grinds to a halt.

            Where are your janitors (and cabbies, and waiters, and salesclerks, and plumbers, etc) going to live in your tech utopia where only the rich can afford to pay the rent?

            The economy you promote is no longer a productive one: it is merely extractive. And extractive economies collapse upon themselves, because they are built upon quicksand.

          7. Two Beers, the janitors etc. can live in Oakland and other places a little further out. That is why we built BART.

            People who cannot afford Manhattan live in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island or New Jersey.

            Your mistake is thinking the city is San Francisco. It’s really the entire Bay Area.

          8. John, BART stops running after 12;30 AM. NYC’s subway system operates 24 hours a day. That makes it pretty hard for a janitor or bartender to get back to the East Bay at 3 AM.

            I’m not sure why you think equating the Bay Area’s system with NYC is a valid argument when there are obvious differences between the two. Oakland, Berkeley, etc. are not boroughs of SF, they are completely separate cities. Your mistake here is in thinking the Bay Area has achieved “West Coast NYC” status when it clearly has not.

          9. It doesn’t matter that Oakland is a separate city. That’s the mistake that San Francisco exceptionalists always make i.e. that Oakland is somehow a different world.

            Yet it is as close to downtown SF as Staten Island and most parts of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.

            BART should run later, but there are all-night buses, plus cabs and so on. And that is only for the small minority with very odd hours. Most people still work 9 to 5.

            My point is that if SF becomes unaffordable, it won’t matter as long as the surrounding cities and counties remain cheaper. That’s why we built BART in the first place.

            People need to lose this idea that they just “have” to be in SF. They don’t.

          10. John – When those whose annual salaries are easily in the six-figure range are not able to consistently contribute to their savings account due to their monthly rent, I’d say that’s pretty indicative of rents being “too high”. Also, when a city’s rental rate becomes the highest in the nation…is there really an argument against rental rates being too high? You can argue subjective thinking all you want, but I think that is nothing more than your attempt to get a rise out of people.

            The “rents are too high” tag is not a complaint limited to those of us who are outside of the tech world. It is the tech workers, though, who continue to pay these ridiculously high rental rates, simply because it makes their housing search quicker and easier, in an effort to live in neighborhoods that are perceived “places to be”. Or at least, were at one point places to be.

            The one argument you have where relative thinking applies, at least somewhat, is the SF art world. Though, the majority of the cities you have listed are outside of the United States. So, in other words, you are saying if someone wants to live in a top-class arts city, they’ll need to move outside of the US – yes, that seems entirely feasible. NY, Chicago, SF…there aren’t too many other cities with praised art culture in the US. You’re clearly arguing for the sake or arguing, without putting much logical thought into what it is you’re attempting to say.

            “What SF does have that’s unique is that it is the world capital of technological innovation. And that is our destiny, if we are to succeed at all,” – Of all the recent points of argument I’ve read over the last few years related to this topic, this statement has got to be the most laughable. If San Francisco is to “succeed”, we must be completely reliant upon the tech world? I have a feeling your definition of “success” would most likely make the majority of SF residents uncontrollably dry heave. What bubble (I use that term deliberately) are you living in? There are so many different avenues of response I could take, I’ll just leave it at that rhetorical question and end there.

            Anyway, your posts are good for a laugh, so I hope to get a response…

          11. M, saying rents are too high is an easy claim, but it misses the point. Rents are high because property prices are high. Property prices are high because land prices are high. And land prices are high because we are surrounded by water, because we have strict height limits for buildings outside downtown, and because SF is desirable.

            So it’s not just a problem for low-income people renting, or even for those people making 100K a year as you suggest. It’s a problem for everyone here. Heck, 2 million doesn’t get you much of a house in SF for that matter.

            Everyone who wants to live in SF pays a premium to do so, and it is a matter of choice for each of them whether it is worth it. Some are here for the work, some for the “culture”, some out of inertia. But whatever the reason, they make an informed choice to spend far too much on housing because that is what it takes.

            For the rest, there is Oakland, or Richmond, or Stockton.

            To the other, I cited technological innovation because it is the defining characteristic of the Bay Area, at least when viewed from a global perspective. That doesn’t rule out you thinking something else is the essence of the Bay Area but, like it or not, that is how the world sees us. Take away tech and we’re just a fairly average provincial city.

            SF exceptionalism can be quite ugly when it spawns entitlement.

      2. Second rate art? Really? OMG. Thank you so much for understanding how hard us artists work. I could go on, but I won’t.

      3. Thank you for explaining basic economics, John. However, rent, property, and land prices are all very high for a specific reason – tech industry up-bidding. Let’s not downplay that. It didn’t just happen because people want to be here. Prices have jumped exponentially even within the last 3 years.

        Additionally, San Francisco is one of the most beautiful major cities in the world. That has been the defining characteristic for as long as most of us can remember. Believe it or not, if the tech trend died out tomorrow, the city itself would continue to exist. Silly smartphone games may be a defining characteristic of the city for those entrenched within the tech industry – but I think that way of thinking is limited to those people specifically.

        Talk about subjective points of view. Everything you’re saying is so blatantly one-sided. I feel like I’m being trolled pretty badly.

        “Take away tech and we’re just a fairly average provincial city.” – This must be quoted for the sake of humor.

        1. m, San Francisco home prices went up throughout the period of the dot.com bust i.e. 2000 to 2006 or so.

          So any theory that aims to predicate high RE values only on tech is only seeing part of the picture.

          But even if I agree with you, so what? What are you (or Campos) proposing that will magically make SF rents and home values cheap?

          And even if they somehow could be made cheap, we’d then have a massive influx of people wanting to live here because it is allegedly so affordable and yet “beautiful”.

          Meanwhile there are great opportunities in SF to build wealth and financial security through IT, real estate, biotech, finance, law etc. Most other cities would kill for our vibrant economy so it seems really odd to me to complain about it.

          1. If I had a solution, it’d be apparent by now. I’m simply here to complain like the rest of us, while awaiting the inevitable bubble burst.