Two visitors wearing 3D glasses.
Raj Parmar and Chip Hardeman at CULT gallery. Photo by Emily Gibson.

Three weeks ago, CULT gallery made its debut on the city’s art scene, taking over the iconic Queens Nails Gallery that shuttered in July. The new space still smells of fresh paint, a legacy of one of Queens Nails’ final installations, America (Burnt/Unburnt).

“They took a lot of risks and did some incredible programming,” CULT’s progenitor, Aimee Friberg, said of Queens’ owners, Bob Linder and Julio César Morales.

America (Burnt/Unburnt) attracted the attention of the San Francisco Fire Department when a map of the United States made of 50,000 matches was lit. The gallery sustained thousands of dollars worth of extensive smoke damage to the ceiling and walls.

Linder and Morales contacted Friberg a few months later, ready to relinquish their lease.

“I didn’t want the space to fall into the wrong hands,” said Friberg, who envisions CULT as a home for creative and experimental programs in the same vein as those held at the old Queens Nails.

Friberg lives in Oakland and knows the Bay Area arts scene well. After moving to San Francisco in 2004 from Seattle, where she earned her arts degree from the University of Washington, she co-curated public programs at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA.) In recent years she has also led Gallery Extrana in Berkeley and directed K. Imperial Fine Art on Geary Street in San Francisco.

“I’ve opened CULT as a place to gather, to share ideas, to experience innovative programming and a place to support that which inspires you,” Friberg said.

The current exhibit, Unseen, explores religious themes through geometry, abstraction and the psychedelic experience.

One of the highlights is Miya Ando’s Shimenawa Light, which is also meant to bless the new gallery space. The work is comprised of a knotted steel cable that has been painted with a phosphorescent material, absorbing the light of the gallery and then providing an ethereal glow once the lights click off.

Additional artists in the exhibition include Miguel Arzabe, Chris Duncan, Dean Smith and Klea McKenna.

“I’ve worked with all of the artists in some capacity or another and/or have a personal friendship with them, so there weren’t any surprises,” Friberg said.

Unseen runs through December 21st. CULT is open from Wednesday through Saturday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

CULT, 3191 Mission Street, 415.800.6604,

Follow Us

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.

Join the Conversation


Please keep your comments short and civil. We will zap comments that fail to adhere to these short and very easy-to-follow rules.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Wow, I saw the America (Burnt/Unburnt) piece on youtube and thought it was amazing! So sad they didn’t take precautions to prevent smoke damage.

    I can only hope that this new space takes chances like the old one, but it’s great to know it will continue to be an exhibition space and won’t be converted into some new boutique thrift shop or gourmet bagel spot. 😉

  2. Aimee’s eye is remarkable. Her depth of knowledge is as surprising as her easy demeanor. I love seeing what she’s creating with her collaborations. The artists work on display is truly amazing. We’re excited to see what comes out of this gallery.