After 15 years of supporting local artists and craftsmen, Secession Art & Design at 3235 Mission St. is going to close its Mission Bernal location this April and move north, near Santa Rosa.
“I define the gallery as its own form of art,” said owner and curator Eden Stein, who’s currently representing more than 70 independent artists. “I don’t physically make a piece of art. But this is my art: helping these artists come up with their shows and their lives in their exhibitions.”
This retro-yet-modern space on Mission Street was converted from a restaurant by Stein, a former preschool teacher who gradually turned jewelry design and curation from a side job to her main business.
“I have experienced everything that a small business could experience,” said Stein, who managed to grow a space of 750 square feet to 1,500 with a “very limited budget.”
“I work the floor two to three days a week,” Stein said. “I do the bookkeeping. I do the cleaning. I do the purchasing. I do the carrying. They do the dreaming.”
Even then, Stein loves working with artists over time, seeing their evolution and encouraging them to experiment. Over the last 15 years, she has pushed the boundaries of local fashion, jewelry and art. She’s especially a fan of independent, handmade crafts.
In addition to the arts, “This community is really near and dear to my heart. I feel a responsibility for it,” said Stein. This led her to help start the Mission Bernal Merchants Association, for which she was president for five years.
But then, something changed. “Everything has been different since I became a mom,” said Stein. The toddler, Luca, was born two years ago and soon became a part of her beloved gallery. “He’s grown up here, and he feels like it’s just as much home to him as being at home.”
After spending the first year and a half “strapped” to Stein in the gallery, Luca has become a young assistant. “When I do art installations, we spend the whole day. He gets out the level and the hammer and he helps us measure and rap and just get involved in the whole process,” said Stein.
This year, the family of three are moving to a country home on the border of Santa Rosa and Sebastopol for more living space. Their “sweet new home” will be next to a farm. It will mean “baby goats in the spring, food from the garden, and exploring with my curious toddler.”
Secession will move with them, and will remain online. Stein remains optimistic about the gallery’s future. “I’ve spent my entire life building the community, and I think my community will follow me.”