The Value(s) of Art(ists)
October 2018 - February 2019
ART WORKS | Chapbook | San Francisco, CA
A SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT THE GEOGRAPHY WITHIN WHICH THIS BOOK RESIDES
This is a project of 24th Street, which sits on unceded and occupied Yelamu and Ramaytush Ohlone land. It was conceived as my mind raced about values and art wandering the aisles of Casa Lucas Market contemplating Alley Cat Books Writing Residency. I furiously typed my application in my phone sitting on the corner of 24th Street and Harrison. Three quarters of the conversations took place in
Alley Cat Books (ill smoke from the Paradise Fire at times dictated other locations). I held office hours at the bookstore every Monday from October 15 to December 10, 2018. And a core group of artists with whom I chatted have deep ties to 24th Street either by being born and raised in The Mission or living / working / creating in the neighborhood for over a decade.
I’ve lived four blocks from 24th Street for 15 years. This place is my home, and it is thanks to it that I have found dear friends and comrades, who share values of introspection, connection, and story. It is because of them, their generosity, and this land that I am more whole, that I have communities to which I can turn when I have deep questions about who I be and how we be together.
So when questions deep within my psyche about being, making, and money emerged, I turned to this place and my peoples — Bay Area artists — to search for more questions than answers.
Over the course of two months, I had intimate conversations about labor, creation, decision-making, and value(s) with 24 of my peers. I asked about who they be and what they make and how they choose what money to take. In return, they shared stories of ancestors painted by muralists on buildings lining 24th Street, discovering one’s body through pleasuring one’s self, being agents of mischief who disrupt systems by asking questions. I heard tales of beginning work before puberty began, shlepping fast food or coffee in Stepford suburbia or downtown San Francisco, expanding class consciousness from being paid as an artist, letting oneself find other options.
As we chatted, I listened for a phrase that seemed to best represent the artist’s perspective. I shared the phrase I captured with them towards the end of the conversation and offered space for editing or even another phrase altogether. No one significantly changed the phrase I shared with them.
Before they left, I asked my friends and comrades to share a selfie, or more precisely a photo that represents who they be. I told them the selfie and the phrase would become a page within this coloring book.
So now I invite you to add your value(s) to this coloring book. Read their insights, make note of your own. Color in their selfies and see how your own hand increases the value of their portraits. Discover not just the value(s) of the art(ists) within this book, but The Value(s) of Art(ists). And that includes you.