Curating the Streets by A. Seiler

The Shooting Gallery of San Francisco plastered these posters all over the city to commemorate it’s 9th Anniversary.  After talking about artists in class like Banksy and Evan Roth who bring the low brow to high brow so to speak, I immediately thought of this gallery tucked away in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco.  

The Tenderloin is notoriously unsavory, somewhere you do not want to find yourself at night.  So obviously, it’s an ideal location for a gallery like Shooting Gallery where they can still remain off-beat even though they are still, in fact, a gallery space showing work like any other art gallery.  The location, logo, etc is all part of the edgy ambiance we are slowly becoming accustomed to.  This concept of taking the everyday, the less-cultured, and more available work and putting it on a pedestal. 

The gallery is world-known for showing “lowbrow” art, but is it really lowbrow once it makes it off the streets and into a gallery?  Something that is lowbrow is considered to be “not highly intellectual or cultured” but what is unintellectual and uncultured about provocative work shown in a gallery?  A place that draws all different types of people to come and learn about art and the artists shown in that space – I think this is completely about intellect and culture.  There is a lot to learn from street art and graffiti artists.  It is the work we walk by everyday, often ignoring, but in the end these are the images and messages that get under our skin.  We remember a certain intersection by the tag on the side of a building, we stair out the train at graffiti rushing by the barrier walls.  This work is just as much a part of the art world as anything we go to a gallery or museum to see.

This is why I have an issue with the “lowbrow” identity of street art.  I understand that people are slow to change and what was once totally taboo has now turned into a huge movement.  There is nothing lowbrow about advertising a gallery’s anniversary.  The only thing that feels lowbrow about these posters may be their location, but that’s certainly all a part of the look.  This gallery proves that people do value street art and it’s a continuously growing movement.  But there’s no point in putting street art on a lower pedestal and I’m confident it will eventually reach a level playing field.

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