“There is one,” says Cléa Massiani, exhibitions coordinator of Creativity Explored, “that literally looks like an S&M dog. And there’s one that’s all cutesy, with glitters and shit.” She’s referring to paintings and drawings of dogs gracing the walls of her organization’s art gallery. Even the exhibition’s title is all cutesy and shit: “Bitchin’: An Art Show for Humans and Dogs.” 

Creativity Explored, at 3245 16th St. between Guerrero and Dolores, provides artistic opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities. It creates the space and support necessary for studio artists to make an income from selling their artwork, and to come into their own as artists. 

And now it’s time for dogs. 

“I’ve been wanting to do a contemporary dog show for a while. It became like this kind of fun understanding of the creature and also, like, the gaze of how the artists are seeing those dogs,” says Massiani. 

That much is clear — part of the exhibit is at dog-level, in a corner of the gallery that has a patch of fake grass, dog toys and feeding bowls. There’s even a jar of dog treats available for any pup who passes through. 

Some of the art hangs at a dog’s-eye level. Photo by Gilles Combet.

With about 70 artists working out of this studio-gallery, and 135 artists in total, the organization is looking for more space. Truly, its high volume of artists makes for a lively atmosphere, with individuals painting away while music and singing elevates the already joyous environment.  

Massiani studied art history at the Sorbonne Institute in Paris. She’s now based in San Francisco, partly managing her own gallery space at the Minnesota Street Project, and partly in the Mission. 

She has a long history of curating exhibits, but “Bitchin’” is the first where she’s had the chance to embrace the “goofy, fun and weird” vibe of Creativity Explored. And the first that’s she done, bottom-up. 

The exhibit came about while Massiani went through the studio-gallery’s art archives. Through this, Massiani found an underlying common theme of dogs in many of the paintings and drawings by the artists. 

She explains, “It gives us a good sense of their relationship with humans and a metaphor for the artists’ understanding of the world.”

Untitled (Poodle) by Lance Rivers, 2016 © Creativity Explored Licensing, LLC, pencil and watercolor on paper, 11 x 15 inches.

Lance Rivers, one of the artists, spoke about his art piece depicting a brown poodle. Why a poodle? “I like the color of it. I looked it up on the computer. I got an idea of that dog — that’s all.” And he enjoys being a part of the showcase. “It makes me feel real good and it’s real nice.”

On opening night of the exhibition, on May 9, about 30 dogs showed up much to Massiani’s delight. “We did have a lot of people coming in because they just, like, wanted to bring their dog to an art opening,” she says. “Which was hilarious.” 

Creativity Explored is located at 3245 16th St. “Bitchin’: An Art Show for Humans and Dogs” will be open for viewing until July 11. For more information, visit the website