If you have ever wondered what I do with all my time that is not centered around stencils, then CELLspace would be one of the things I’d mention. Started in 1996 by a group of crazy, radical, creative artists, CELL has weathered many a storm as a funky underground arts facility. It became a nonprofit about ten years ago, and over $250,000 has been invested in building out the space to (slowly) meet code compliance with all the various government agencies in San Francisco. Right now, on the cusp of CELL’s 15th anniversary in March, the space is as close as it has ever been towards becoming a legit events facility. And it is still run by a bunch of crazy, radical, creative artists.
I started volunteering at CELLspace in 1998, soon after I had gotten hooked into documenting and making stencils. My love for stencils were encouraged during all my other projects at CELL, so I made stencils for shows, props, and eventually became a shadow puppetteer throwing negative space shadows on screens. I co-curated three stencil-specific shows at CELL: Negative Spaces, For the People, and Stencilada. Many of these other projects, shows, and productions were incubated and presented at CELL. Other artists like Swoon, Jef Aerosol, Scott Williams, and Peat Wollaeger have also added their art to CELL’s exterior walls over the years.
And I have been curating and making murals on both of CELL’s walls these past few years. Long before I took interest in CELL’s outside walls, many artists have sprayed and painted their art. Spray graffiti has a long tradition at CELLspace, and it’s former satellite annex the Mission Village Flea Market (this is where the Bike Kitchen began). There is still a bboy and bgirl night every Monday at the CELL.
Right now, San Francisco is cracking down hard on any space that is not 100% legal. The locals here call it the War on Fun, which has been waged for the past two years. Add a shitty economy and an internal re-organization (CELL transformed back into an all-volunteer run space about three years ago), and you have an amazing warehouse space in a tight fit.
And we’re so close!
Below is the email that we are sending out to help raise $$ for the space. I hardly ever ask for your financial support (beyond the book links at the top of this page), but now is the time to help an amazing art project get over the final hump. I have already written a check and $6,000 has been raised so far.
If I ever had an inspiration to be an artist, then it is the CELLspace and all those amazing people who have walked in the doors (David Byrne, Extra Action Marching Band, Flaming Lotus Girls, Dave Eggers, Perry Ferrell, Bassnectar, Yard Dogs, Bishop Joey, Matmos, Point Break Live, Michael Franti, Chicken John, Cardboard Institute of Technology, the San Francisco Mime Troupe, Art and Revolution, and many many more).
thanks for all your support,
CELL NEEDS YOUR FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO MAKE EMERGENCY REPAIRS AND KEEP OUR DOORS OPEN!
Those of you who have been to CELLspace know how magical and unique our 2050 Bryant Street location is; it is one of the last spaces of its kind in the Bay Area.
For several months, in a joint venture with San Francisco IndieFest, CELLspace has been preparing for the final stages of installing a new fire exit as required by the City of San Francisco Planning Department. This new fire exit is critical to becoming an adequate Place of Assembly. Without it we will not be able to host any large events of any kind. Event rentals pay 75% of our core operating expenses.
Unfortunately as we were prepared to start construction in December, new ordinances requiring us to add additional new features to the construction stopped our progress. These additional features will cost us much more than our initial required renovation. Of course, we have also lost valuable time and opportunities to earn revenue through events. Now more than ever we are feeling the blow of this lost income during the construction period, when we are so close to expanding what CELLspace can provide for the community. Any further setbacks, and CELLspace will be significantly crippled in its efforts.
We now turn to you, our friends, our community. Please help us to raise $25,000 by January 31, 1011. This $25,000 will help to cover the costs of new plans and permits as well as cover lost event revenue during this now prolonged permitting revision. This past week we raised $5000 in donations from our own active members, but is still not enough to keep our doors open.
Please give anything you can today. Donations are tax deductible. Every bit helps, and we can do this together to make sure CELLspace can continue to offer it’s diverse programming for the people of the Bay Area to enjoy. We hope to have a celebration and thank you party for all our supporters at the conclusion of this drive.
Until we meet this goal, we will not be able to allow event producers, community groups, or art patrons to rent our wonderfully versatile and affordable main space. Please donate via this PayPal link.
Thank you in advance for your years of support and involvement. We wouldn’t be the same without you. Please forward this email on.
With hope and gratitude,