Monday, April 25, 2011

Studios at Hunters Point are open

The Hunters Point Shipyard Artists (HPSA) opened studio doors to the public as part of the organization's 20th annual Spring Open Studios on April 30th and May 1st.  The event took place in two studio locations in Bayview Hunters Point. Over 150 artists of all kinds had work for sale, including sculpture, painting, ceramics, textiles, metal and stonework.

The director of this year’s HPSA Spring Open Studios, Wendy Robushi said that this event sometimes draws over a thousand people. “HPSA Spring Open Studio was really the original Spring Open Studios–now everyone has events like this, but ours was one of the first,” Robushi said.

Each year the artists who wish to exhibit at the event pay a fee and somebody in the group comes forward to coordinate the event. It’s a big job, according to Robushi, and a paid contract position, but there is never enough money to make it a full-time job. She had the help of several volunteers, without whom, she says she couldn’t have done it. In years past the HPSA has depended on press releases, but this year they changed their tactics and sprang for a new website and paid advertisements.

The heyday of the event was during the dot com boom of the late nineties and early aughts, when so many people had money to throw around, Robushi said.

“I am optimistic that despite the economy, the ads and website will bring people to this event.”

HPSA is a grassroots collective of artists who rent studio space at the shipyard and at Islais Creek Studios nearby. The Spring Open Studio event is the collective’s main focus. This enables artists to show and sell their work. At one time, several galleries represented Robushi’s work, but the economic downturn has resulted in their closure. This is the case for many San Francisco artists, Robushi says, and that makes the Spring Open Studios even more important to the survival of art and artists.

The main location of the Shipyard artists is called The Point. Jacques Terizan, the first artist to lease space at the location, saw the potential to use the abandoned shipyard buildings as an artist colony. With help from his children and a coalition of community leaders and environmentalists, Terizan achieved his vision, and by the late ‘70’s, The Point was home to over 300 artists. Many of these artists were evicted and relocated to Islais Creek Studios, but bringing them back to the shipyard area is part of a master redevelopment plan.

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