Root Division Opens Art Show at Tenderloin Museum

by on March 14, 2017

Exhibits in the Tenderloin Museum

The Tenderloin Museum is known for exhibitions on the Blackhawk Jazz Club, Wally Heider Studios, the rise of San Francisco’s GLBT movement, and  the role of the post-1906 Tenderloin in turning San Francisco into the “Paris of the West.” The Museum also has regular exhibitions of new art, and on March 16 from 6-9pm Root Division is presenting the work of Studio Artists and students at the Tenderloin Museum this spring.

More Than a Roof and Walls features the work of Alice Combs and Susa Cortez alongside the work of their intergenerational students at several of the museum’s Tenderloin community partnerships including Kelly Cullen Community, Community Housing Partnership & Larkin Street Youth.

Root Division teaching artists help residents and clients create meaningful art projects. The classes serve as a creative outlet for the imaginations of students while introducing them to a wide range of materials, projects, and ideas.

On view at the Tenderloin Museum starting March 16 is a collaborative installation which reflects the work of students from all three programs. Creating an imagined interior space looking out onto a “window” collaged image of the Tenderloin neighborhood are textile pillows and curtains with the student’s designs. Made from Styrofoam block prints from Kelly Cullen, Community Housing Partnership and Larkin Street Youth, the fabrics are a collaborative effort reflecting the diverse style and personalities of the students who participated.

The teaching artists are exhibiting work alongside this student installation.

Alice Combs presents “Metal, Mettle, Meddle (excerpts)” in which the artist impulsively cleans rust off of old weights, spikes, and chains–objects which do not need to look any certain way in order to perform their function. The tedious process of polishing is an act of erasing a surface and imposing one’s will for the sake of appearances. There is weight behind polish, and it may not be benign. A graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) MFA program in Painting, Combs uses everyday materials like human hair, blueprints, and rusty metal, manipulated through repetitive and laborious processes, to create assemblage drawings and sculpture to address the  aspirational bases of individual and collective action.

In her installation Ma Tiera, Susa Cortez transports viewers to her hometown of La Loma, a small town in rural Morleon, Guanajuato, Mexico. Inspired by childhood memories, Cortez has constructed an interactive installation reminiscent of her grandmother’s living room, where she spent Saturday afternoons watching her grandmother knotting the fringe of rebozos (shawls) to earn her living. Through the elevation of personally significant, but humble objects—a rebozo, flowers, a wooden box—Cortez creates an immersive shrine to her own childhood nostalgia that allows viewers to reflect upon their own formative memories.

Susa Cortez was born in La Loma, a rural town of Moroleon, Guanajuato, Mexico, which is a major influence behind her artistic practice.  She works in diverse range of mediums often consisting of installations and performance. Cortez received a B.F.A. from the University of Delaware and an M.F.A. in Sculpture from Herron School of Art and Design, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Her work has been exhibited in venues such as the Queens Museum, Syracuse University, SOMArts, Galeria de la Raza, Normal University Taipei, and Townson University.

A major theme in the Tenderloin Museum is the neighborhood’s historic role in the cultural and artistic vanguard. This tradition continues with the More Than a Roof and Walls exhibition opening March 16. The show continues until April 29.

Randy Shaw is on the Board of the Tenderloin Museum. He is the author of The Tenderloin: Sex, Crime and Resistance in the Heart of San Francisco

Randy Shaw

Randy Shaw is the Editor of Beyond Chron and the Director of San Francisco’s Tenderloin Housing Clinic, which publishes Beyond Chron. Shaw's latest book is Generation Priced Out: Who Gets to Live in the New Urban America. He is the author of four prior books on activism, including The Activist's Handbook: Winning Social Change in the 21st Century, and Beyond the Fields: Cesar Chavez, the UFW and the Struggle for Justice in the 21st Century. He is also the author of The Tenderloin: Sex, Crime and Resistance in the Heart of San Francisco

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