Curatorial Projects > Building the Building (2019)

Building the Building: SOMArts 40th Anniversary Exhibition

A group exhibition featuring work by Bernice Bing, Cece Carpio, Oliver DiCicco, Ayana Ivery, Peter Max Lawrence, Carlos Loarca, E. Oscar Maynard, Betsie Miller-Kusz, Johanna Poethig, Truong Tran, Leo Valledor, Rene Yañez, and Victor Mario Zaballa

Co-curated with Rio Yanez

July 18 – September 3, 2019
SOMArts Cultural Center
San Francisco, CA

Building the Building is a sampling of artwork by artists who laid the foundation for SOMArts creatively and administratively, artists whose contributions bridged multiple generations of the space, and artists who continue to work within the organization today. Amongst the artists in the exhibition are five key former administrators of SOMArts who cover almost the entirety of the four decades of SOMArts: Bernice Bing, Carlos Loarca, Betsie Miller-Kusz, Leo Valledor, and Rene Yañez. Their work and presence exemplifies the unique relationships with artists that SOMArts has cultivated over the decades.

The exhibition title Building the Building takes its inspiration from the internal nickname for SOMArts’ large physical space – “the building” – and honors and celebrates the work of artists and leaders that have made SOMArts what it is today, a crucial champion of culture and community. For over four decades, SOMArts has occupied a unique foothold in the arts landscape of the Bay Area, as many artists and communities that would not have had an outlet for their work found space and support within the walls of “the building.” Countless artists, collectives, organizations, movements, and rebellions that have made the Bay Area arts community what it is today have at one point engaged with the services and space of SOMArts.

One of the particular strengths of SOMArts has been its capacity to nurture, support, and showcase the work of a multiplicity of communities over the past four decades. Each cultural event – be it an exhibition, performance, or workshop – has helped to contribute to the overall collective impact of SOMArts on the greater Bay Area. Even though certain artistic styles and conceptual inquiries may have come from and intensely resonate with specific communities, the superadditive effect of over four decades of culture and art that have passed through SOMArts is unparalleled. Each project builds upon the foundation of what came before it, continuing the momentum of building upon the legacy of “the building.”