New Gallery on the Block: Local Lady Curators Open ‘State’ in The Mission

In an ever-changing city, where art galleries seem to quietly close as often as friends threaten to move to Portland, it’s refreshing to see new spaces spring up. This month we welcome the new Mission project space/gallery, simply and straightforwardly called “state” to the neighborhood. The gallery is co-founded by Danielle Smith and Kimberly Verde, also the founders of FRAMEWORK.

FRAMEWORK is a San Franciso PR agency focused on arts and culture. The two have worked closely with many reputable galleries, have supported multi-state art fairs, and the city’s own arts program, including stARTup Art Fair, Chandran Gallery, The Art City Project, and the SF Chamber of Commerce.

Material Limit, is the first exhibition to take place at state this Saturday, June 18th. The show brings together two Bay Area-based women sculptors Alexis Arnold and Mary Button Durell. Alexis will have a site-specific installation and will be exhibiting pieces from her crystallized book series, a body of objects that begin as books, but are transformed into sculptures through the artist’s process for growing borax crystals on the books’ surfaces. The effect, both stunning, thought-provoking, and a message on nature and time’s decaying and transformative effects on paper, and other worldly objects.

In anticipation of the show, we wanted to get to know some more about these two ladies (Bravo’s Gallery Girls, eat your heart out!), and they were kind enough to field some questions about the space, past projects, artist favorites, and about their partnership.

stateArtwork by Alexis Arnold

You’ve worked with many high-profile clients, can you tell us a bit more about some of the art-related events you’ve been involved in? Maybe some favorites…

KV: Personally, my favorite involvement has been with the Standard Hotel, where I placed some artists for exhibitions and installations. I have a bizarre hotel obsession so even though my role was small, I loved seeing this happen. I’m also enjoying our new client, the David Brower Center in Berkeley, who uses art as a vehicle to stimulate thought and action around social justice and the environmental movement. I love that the byproduct of this work (and many of our other clients) broadens my awareness on complex issues and cultural consciousness.


We don’t take on clients unless we believe that there’s something we can do for them. To support their vision, it has to somehow be related to our vision as well. We have worked with so many amazing clients and projects.

I’ll share what comes to mind immediately…One favorite was an event production and marketing project for Citizen Film,a documentary production company. We assisted in activating one of their films in-real-life by putting together an interdisciplinary evening of classical music, storytelling and academic and historical figures at Stanford’s Bing Hall in order to rehash the WWII Potsdam Conference and unpack the moment that ultimately lead to the Cold War and our postmodern world. The whole night was based on a short film about concertmaster Stuart Canin’s remarkable personal story as a rifleman during WWII called “The Rifleman’s Violin.” Creating a live history lesson with so many art forms and brilliant thinkers, and linking that concept to an engaged audience, was by far one of the most thrilling nights of my life.

Other standouts are stARTup Art Fair for their brave vision and fierce commitment to the artists they work with. Art advisor and curator Heather Marx has great taste and her willingness to take chances, and the resulting successes is extraordinary to witness. Ever Gold [Projects] for continual programming dexterity and innovation. I’m also excited and honored to be working with Clarion Alley Mural Project, a San Francisco street and public art gem, on launching their archival website this summer. We will also be assisting The Cantor Arts Center on their upcoming exhibition California “The Art of Water” a look at California’s complex relationship to water through the lens of visual art.

You are some busy ladies! Any tips on balancing your personal life, with being involved in the arts, and running a business?
KV: Actually, I could use some tips for that!
DS: No, sorry.

How did you two first start working together? Was it collab vibes at first meet?

KV: The first time I met Danielle she was wearing chinosand I judged her. A few years later we began hiring each other as consultants on each other’s projects. I think we both felt really inspired and motivated by what we could do with our combined strengths and never-ending ideas for supporting artists and the community.

DS: I knew that we’d be working together in the long term. Then I forgot, and then I remembered. It’s not always an easy partnership, but it’s a really strong one.

How would you describe your roles when you partner?
KV: Bad cop.
DS: Stand up comedian.

Defining styles can be pretty difficult, but could you briefly describe the new project space’s aesthetic or particular direction?

KV: I see the work that we agree on involves a deep investigation of its material process, conceptually sound, and multidimensional. Primarily we are supporting emerging, undiscovered, and extremely talented – but underrepresented artists.

DS: Agreed. I’m interested in using our space to help artists push their practice in the next direction. I’d like it to feel more unexpected than cohesive.

Who are personally some of your favorite artists, if you don’t mind me asking?
KV: Meleko Mokgosi, Ghost of a Dream, Cai Guo-Qiang, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Helmut Newton, Ala Ebtekar and Hilary Pecis

DS: For visual artists, William Kentridge, Carrie Mae Weems, and Klea McKenna. Literary artists/writers: Kate Atkinson and Octavia Butler. In film, Agnes Varde, Sally Potter, and Jane Campion.

How would you describe your own personal style…in a sentence or less.
KV: understated, minimal, form over function
DS: experimental marries WASP

downloadWhere it all begins…

+++Material Limit (June 18- July 30) Opening Saturday, June 18th (6-9pm)
state, 1295 Alabama Street (between 24th and 25th St)
Gallery Hours are Tuesday-Saturday from 12-5pm