How does a new artist exhibit in SF?
November 27, 2007 3:58 PM   Subscribe

A new artist and the Bay Area gallery/cafe scene: how do I get my foot in the door?

I've been working on a photography project for the last several months and have a series of prints framed and (more or less) ready for exhibition.

How do I go about submitting work to galleries and cafes for consideration? Is an email with a link to scanned images sufficient, or do I need to arrange for (or simply pop in) for a face to face meeting? Finally, as a recent arrival to San Francisco, how can I find out about potential venues?
posted by aladfar to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It takes personal visits and CDs of pictures to lubricate the event. You can't count on them ever reading their e-mail without you meeting them first in person. Some galleries 'call' here, but it's unlikely you will get in without showing up first.
posted by parmanparman at 4:00 PM on November 27, 2007

Also, some cafe's have deals with galleries that rotate paintings in and out of their restaurants. You should look for those, as it raises yours chances of being shown around the bay area.
posted by parmanparman at 4:01 PM on November 27, 2007

I would talk to everyone possible in person and have a portfolio of digital prints or other promotional materials (postcards, small booklet, CDs, etc.) you can leave with the directors of the venues. Beware the vanity gallery!

Also, I recommend not limiting your exhibitions to your local area. Enter reputable competitions, cite your accepted entries and awards on your art résumé, and submit your résumé with your portfolio. Best of luck!
posted by bonobo at 4:22 PM on November 27, 2007

You might investigate the SFMOMA Artists Gallery at Fort Mason. Part of their mission is to help expose the work of emerging local artists to collectors, other galleries, etc. However, it looks like they still require submission in slide form.
posted by trip and a half at 4:22 PM on November 27, 2007

I had some of my photos on exhibit at a cafe in Berkeley because they put up an ad on craigslist. I sent them a link to my flickr account and everything sort of fell into place after that. They rotate artists out every three months or so. If you want some more details and contact info, send me a PM.

Also, I work at an architecture firm in San Rafael and we've been getting some artists to exhibit here in our space as well. There's a formal process involved but I've got the details for that too.
posted by lou at 4:54 PM on November 27, 2007

Why limit yourself to just galleries to start? Upscale salons, fashion boutiques, sponsored auctions/causes/charities, fancy lighting and home furnishing stores, gyms and yoga/dance/martial arts studios...all of these usually want to showcase/sell art and/or rotate pieces from local artisans regularly. These places have incredibly high foot-traffic from other artists and/or gallery owners as well.

At my gym I've stared at the same damn picture for 10-20-30 minutes at a time. And I remember the name next to it cause I stared at that too.

Also, always have access to your work wherever you go, so that you can show it to anybody, anywhere, easily. Keep a few examples (not all of ''s a teaser) on your phone, in your car, on the internet. Be ready with a quick description about the next project you've started too.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:45 AM on November 28, 2007

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