Monday, August 4, 2008

Ourspace (A Tribute to Frida)

It comes with the territory. Living in a popular, metropolitan city often means tight living/creative spaces, high rent prices and a general sense of restriction when it comes to living large and out loud. A city notorious for its cost of living, San Francisco is no stranger to these challenges. What continues to amaze me though, is what blooms in this city despite the confinement.

This summer, I've been attending quite a few performances at the Red Poppy Art House, an incredible artists' space in the heart of the Mission district. The Red Poppy hosts everything from flamenco workshops, to Brazilian jazz concerts to oil painting lessons for kids. Housed in the bottom studio apartment of an old red Victorian, it's a space that is as ethereal as it is practical. By day, it's a working artist residency and classroom. By night, it is magically transformed with candles, cushions and chiffon streamers into a lively performance space that is almost always filled to capacity. I love that they never insist on a cover charge (a donation is always encouraged). It's art by the people for the people.

On a similar note, Red Poppy Art House works alongside another amazing San Francisco organization - MAPP: The Mission Arts and Performance Project, which has also caught my attention lately. MAPP's main goal is to encourage residents to transform their garage and outdoor spaces into living art galleries. They emphasize that art doesn't need to be formally housed in galleries - rather, putting it at a more basic accessible level can change the health of our society.

This past weekend, Red Poppy and MAPP teamed up to host a Frida Kahlo tribute that took place alongside the huge Frida exhibit that opened June 18 at the SFMOMA. Among many other smaller performances, the tribute was tied together with a moveable performance space in which "Frida" traveled from studio to studio on her bed, carried by friends and family, just like she was carried into her final gallery opening. Kelly and I were lucky enough to catch the show as it passed through the Red Poppy Art House and even played an "active" role in helping to get the makeshift performance space into the studio. Once we did, we listened to prayers in Spanish, watched sage burn, felt live drums reverberate the floorboards and paid homage to the amazing artist.

I'm in awe of the folks in this neighborhood who keep a space like Red Poppy alive and becoming equally inspired to get involved and to contribute to it. Maybe that can be a small goal in accordance with this blog -- to deeper explore the Urban Miracles within MAPP and give whatever I can, even if it's just a few brush strokes a month. If you live in the Bay Area, I hope to see you there very soon. It is, afterall, our city, our art and ultimately our space to create together.

(photo courtesy of Todd Brown)

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