The San Francisco Arts Commission Galleries held its fun, and engaging seventh annual Passport event this past weekend, on October 18. Through this signature event, SFAC Galleries makes contemporary art accessible to a broad and diverse audience, and remains one of the few participant-led art collecting experiences that encourages a direct connection between artists and arts enthusiasts in the San Francisco Bay Area. During this one-day only event, Passport attendees collect unique stamps inside a limited edition SFAC Moleskine notebook, their “passport” that marks their travel route from artist to artist, local business to local business where they are imprinted on the interior sheets by the creator him/herself. Fifteen emerging and established artists and one artist team participated this year. Also this year, 50 free passports were distributed to nonprofits serving the Japantown neighborhood, for further dissemination in the community to encourage local participation.
Passport also brings arts patrons and artists out of the studios and galleries, and into neighborhood venues and businesses, and investment in both art and local commerce intersect. Rodney Ewing in the Japantown Peace Plaza sitting alongside the home base where attendees picked up their passports created a beautiful stamp of a beautiful Victorian home uprooted and ready to float away, perhaps a potent reminder of the homes that once filled the Fillmore area nearby. Ma Li warmly welcomed Passport attendees at Katachi with a two-page stamp of futuristic robot characters. Robert Minervini impressed a bright, two-color stamp of his iconic urban landscape imagery inside a fitting location, Tokaido Arts. There were long lines at Pika Pika throughout the day, where Takehito Etani stamped an illustration from his Footprints of the Invisible Giants project. Meanwhile just across the mall, Kota Ezawa was stamping at the Kinokuniya Bookstore, which proclaimed a powerful statement: “Whoever reads this doesn’t need to be afraid of anything.” Masako Miki and her assistant had a great assembly line going outside Mashiko Folkcraft; her two-part stamp depicted a symbolic bear figure holding tightly onto a feather. On either side of the Japantown mall Hadi Tabatabai stamped a very geometric image of a graph plane, which fit in well with the mid-century modern furniture and design at Zinc Details, while Kathy Aoki at Ichiban Kan gave a satirical commentary on the Hello Ketty franchise with a stamp illustrating her idea of a Mount-Rushmore like monument to the animated character.
On the other side of Post Street, Passport enthusiastically continued. There was a long line for the very special edition stamp designed by Ruth Asawa, courtesy of The Estate of Ruth Asawa in the middle of the Buchanan street pedestrian thoroughfare. Renée Gertler at Aloha Warehouse printed a seemingly simple geometric stamp, but which resounded strongly with her practice that is influenced by diagrams of planetary motion and NASA photography, and interprets large concepts using elemental materials. Brian Singer, who participated in last year’s Passport, was stamping on behalf of Jun Kaneko outside Nagata Dance — art and commerce blended well with Kaneko’s Magic Flute-themed design. Artist Sandra Ono stationed at MaruQ gave Passport visitors unique art with a slice of contemporary Japanese fashion. Tina Takemoto gave each passport carrier an enlightening history lesson of local Japanese American LGBT history with her stamp as she was stationed at the National Japanese American Historical Society. Taravat Talepasand’s station at Yakini Q Café gave many visitors a respite for refreshing beverage and/or a snack, while the artist imprinted the SFAC passport with a stamp made to look exactly like sheets inside her Iranian passport. At the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, Taro Hattori provided the passport holder with another double-sheet stamp that held beautifully illustrated mottos for both Welcome and Goodbye surrounded by symbols of good fortune. Vicky Mihara Avery & Linda Mihara encouraged everyone to end their passport event with them at Paper Tree, where they had a special paper crane to place inside the passport of every visitor.
More about the SFAC Galleries Passport event, occurring yearly in October, here.