Our Neighbor: Southern Exposure

Southern Exposure is a vital Bay Area institution where visual artists find opportunities to create and show their work to new audiences. Our name suggests both optimal conditions for seeing and our longtime location south of Market.

We’ve been in the neighborhood since our founding in 1974 and in our current space at the corner of 20th Street and Alabama since 2009. We're proud to remain a Mission-based hub for the Bay Area artist community, especially as the neighborhood undergoes rapid transformation. Over the past forty-two years, we have launched the careers of countless artists, become a model and thought leader for organizations nationwide, invited local youth to turn the gallery into their studio every summer, and in the past nine years, provided seed funding to over 150 artist projects, including podcasts, publications, exhibitions, film projects, and more. We have grown beyond our walls and have supported artists in creating temporary interventions into public life. In encouraging them to consider public space as a place for creative expression, we have found ourselves working in some very unexpected locations, including a ferry, a cave, public pools, and on the side of a building.

We believe in the potential for art to create the space for dialogue among individuals who might not otherwise cross paths yet share values and ideas. Through imagination, beauty, humor, and a fresh perspective, the artists we work with approach even the toughest of subjects fearlessly. In just the last year at Southern Exposure, our projects have explored big topics such as revolution, gentrification, death, and transformation. At the moment, we’re developing our fall exhibition which will examine borders, the walls that define and obstruct them, and the migration of people and products over/through/around them—by constructing and destroying an actual wall in our gallery space, built from piñatas shaped like cinderblocks. Everyone is invited to tear down this wall.

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Southern Exposure is first and foremost a space for people to gather. We like to get together for a raucous dance party, a playful neighborhood walk, a friendly gaming tournament, or a communal meal. The people who pass through these doors and the history we've built both speak to Southern Exposure as a steady presence advocating for the value of emerging, risk-taking, artist-centered creativity. You are welcome to be part of what happens here. Stop by anytime and say hello to our dedicated staff of five: Lisa, Maya, Nick, Patricia, and Valerie!