by Julie Baumgardner
While its name conjures images of roving canines, the only wild things you’re likely to find in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood are the gang of intrepid young art dealers who have set up shop in the formerly forgotten bayside section of the city. San Francisco is an important market for collectors and institutions — all the more so since SFMOMA’s splashy, Snohetta-led reopening last spring — but despite East Coast attempts to colonize, the city’s market has yet to be totally conquered. “We have a lot of creative freedom,” explains Claudia Altman Siegel, among the city’s pre-eminent gallerists, who’s boosted hot artists including Josh Smith and Trevor Paglen and who recently relocated to the Dogpatch. “Right now, there’s a lot of attention on S.F., but we’re not in a Chelsea-like environment with 100 galleries and hundreds of critics all watching what you’re doing. Here, you just do whatever you want.”
The city’s oldest intact historic district, the Dogpatch has been a neighborhood of the future since the 1860s; it’s steeped in industry, with a mix of residential and manufacturing space. (The true origin of its name is a mystery; prevailing theories reference the dogfennel flower, the setting of the “Li’l Abner” comic strip and the onetime presence of roaming street dogs stashing meat scavenged from nearby Butchertown.) Since last spring, a slew of galleries have decamped from cushy downtown or Tenderloin outposts — and even, frequently, from New York — to the industrial lots around the 22nd and 3rd Streets corridor. Many have landed at the Minnesota Street Project (MSP), a 100,000-plus-square-foot complex of warehouses founded by the arts patrons and real estate investors Deborah and Andy Rappaport, housing galleries, nonprofits, artists’ studios and, soon, a restaurant and bar by Daniel Patterson of San Francisco’s beloved Coi.
This week, the fourth edition of FOG Design+Art, the heavy-hitter fair benefiting SFMOMA, will open; and plenty of art-circuit regulars will head five miles southeast to the Dogpatch. Untitled, Art — a Miami Beach staple since 2012 — is concurrently hosting the inaugural edition of its satellite fair there, in an effort to promote “curatorial balance and integrity,” as the fair puts it. Here are some other destinations not to be missed.
Until this past November, Claudia Altman Siegel’s near-decade-old space, Altman Siegel Gallery, stood in the 49 Geary building, the legacy downtown epicenter of San Francisco’s arts action that’s draining out to the Dogpatch. She now holds about 5,000 square feet in a converted warehouse at 1150 25th Street, the latest extension of Minnesota Street Projects. “Already, I’d dare to say it’s much better than downtown,” she says. Timed to this spotlight week, the gallery has just opened a show by the painter Laeh Glenn, an artist discovered by Altman Siegel before her MFA graduation from UCLA in 2012. “The Dogpatch is definitely the destination if you’re interested in seeing art in San Francisco — it’s the place to go,” Altman Siegel says. “We have everything we need there. It’s becoming a scene because there are so many of us there at the same time. It sounds like it could be forced, from the outside, but it’s not. It’s just really fun.” 1150 25th St., altmansiegel.com.
After some urging from Altman Siegel, her old friend Adrian Rosenfeld just moved in next door, giving up the director’s seat at Matthew Marks gallery in New York — a jump made also by Altman Siegel, nine years ago after working her way up at Luhring Augustine. This Saturday, Rosenfeld will unveil the inaugural show in an ambitious slate of programming that will see him partner with other global art dealers to develop unique projects in a space lit only with natural light. “Eau de Cologne,” developed in collaboration with the influential gallerists Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers, hangs Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler, Cindy Sherman and Rosemarie Trockel in conversation together as artists who “make strong work about the individual in society,” Rosenfeld says — a fitting theme for the gallery’s newfound home. “We’re our own thing,” Rosenfeld says of the Dogpatch. “What feels new over here is the spirit of collaboration, permeability and experimentation.” 1150 25th St., (415) 285-2841.
Within Minnesota Street Project’s first building and central hub located on its namesake avenue are about a dozen other galleries, including the last gallery to sign in that space, Ever Gold Projects — run by a San Francisco native, Andrew McClintock, who grew up riding his bike in the Dogpatch. When Ever Gold’s previous lease became unaffordable in the Tenderloin, just under a year ago, McClintock relocated. “Conceptually, there is much more space out in the Dogpatch — space to think and breathe in this ever-encroaching city,” he says. “I saw my sales more than double last year, and our shows are being seen by thousands of people.” This Saturday, McClintock will open a show that puts Kazuo Shiraga, a master of the Gutai group, and the current market darling Kour Pour in dialogue. 1275 Minnesota St., Suite 105, evergoldprojects.com.
Two new tenants at MSP, bitforms gallery and Invisible-Exports, have just landed from New York’s Lower East Side as pop-ups. Bitforms’s director, Steven Sacks, celebrated his gallery’s 15-year anniversary with a survey of his top artists, including R. Luke Dubois and Daniel Canogar. Risa Needleman, the founder of Invisible Exports, took a leap and chose to exhibit the artist Cary Leibowitz, also known as “Candyass,” to coincide with a solo show of his work opening at S.F.’s Contemporary Jewish Museum on Jan. 26. “I love that it feels like a boomtown,” Needleman says of the city, “constantly changing and adapting, and, at least in terms of the art world, figuring out its place and identity.” 1275 Minnesota St., Suites 200 and 106, bitforms.com and invisible-exports.com.
The action isn’t just at Minnesota Street Projects — in fact, the NADA-affiliated Romer Young Gallery has been down on 22nd Street since 2002. “We were a lone wolf down here for a long time,” co-director Joey Piziali says. The gallery, which will open “Squid Ink,” a show of work by the New York-based renegades Rosy Keyser and Brie Ruais, on Thursday, has seen the Dogpatch shrink and expand in response to the economic moods of the city. “It’s going to take a collective effort to make this art movement/district really last,” Piziali notes. “It would be great to see the city get more invested in supporting art initiatives. While we have a small, but very supportive, local collector base, it will also be necessary for that community to grow in order to match the current growth of the city.” 1240 22nd St., romeryounggallery.com.