While reflecting on the African-American community of San Francisco, James Baldwin once said, “This is the San Francisco Americans pretend does not exist.” The Bayview-Hunters Point district, at the southeastern corner of the city, has for years been isolated from the rest of the city and cited as a significant example of urban marginalization. A recent Brookings Institution report identified the area as an “extreme poverty” neighborhood. Yet today, with a new light-rail and other plans on the horizon, the area is the focus of redevelopment projects. The Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, a superfund site requiring years of toxic radioactive pollution cleanup, is being targeted for 10,500 new homes. Once an outskirt, Bayview-Hunters Point is on its way to becoming another coveted San Francisco zip code. While the African-American community watches its neighborhood transform, gentrification threatens to undermine its accessibility. Once considered a historic African-American district, displacement is underway.
In 2010 Kirk Crippens was invited to make photographs of Bayview-Hunters Point. He began wandering the neighborhood with his camera, but the work looked just like what it was: an outsider wandering the perimeter of a community. If the work was going to have any authenticity or power, Crippens needed to connect in a significant way. He decided to attend one of the churches he saw in the neighborhood. In early 2011, he walked into Providence Baptist Church. His life changed that Sunday morning; he was adopted by the congregation of Providence. The church became the lens through which he learned about and connected with the community. Crippens now serves on an arts board in Bayview-Hunters Point, and the church is his home away from home.
While other projects focus on the gritty, troubled aspects that come from oppression and economic struggle, The Point is a celebration of Bayview-Hunters Point. It features the people who’ve grown up and lived their lives there- the kings and queens of Bayview-Hunters Point.
The Point opens at RayKo Photo Center on September 10th where a host of artists from Hunters Point will be performing: Jesse Sahbi (an artist from Bayview via the Ivory Coast) will be singing and playing guitar, Mary Booker (a legendary Bayview poet and playwright) will be reading poetry, and a small group from the Voices of Providence Choir are also performing! Portraits of these residents and many others will be in the exhibition. Come celebrate this vibrant San Francisco community and meet Kirk Crippens and the luminous people of Hunters Point!
Also happening simultaneously for Crippens is the acquisition and exhibition of a number of his photographs and portfolios by the newly opened Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. They have recently announced that the exhibition State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now will feature 102 artists from all over the country. Emeryville-based artist, Kirk Crippens’ work will be included in State of the Art, which debuts at Crystal Bridges on September 13.
Crystal Bridges President Don Bacigalupi and Assistant Curator Chad Alligood traveled to Emeryville in October 2013 to conduct an interview with Kirk Crippens as part of the search for the most compelling American art being created today.
This studio visit was one of nearly 1,000 stops made by the curatorial team during a year-long, 100,000 mile journey across the country to discover artists whose work has not yet been fully recognized. The result is a one-of-a-kind exhibition that draws from every region of the U.S., offering an unusually diverse and nuanced look at American art. The 102 artists selected range in age from 24 – 87, including 54 male and 48 female artists from across the country.
Sixteen photographs from the series Foreclosure, USA by Kirk Crippens will be included in State of the Art and 41 prints have been purchased for the Crystal Bridges permanent collection. Foreclosure, USA serves as quiet witness to the Great Recession. In recent years the financial distress induced by widespread foreclosures in the United States has become an urgent national concern. There is still much public discourse on how to solve the problem that has decimated communities, threatens the country’s entire financial system, and seems to discredit the American Dream. Lots of foreclosures, yet not much closure.
Inspired by the Dust Bowl photographs of the Great Depression, the project focuses on the foreclosure crisis in Stockton, California. Only a few years ago, Stockton seemed to manifest the vision of America in its unreserved sense of possibility and its openness to business. Sadly, it is now better known as one of the epicenters of the foreclosure crisis. In the first quarter of 2009, one in every 27 housing units in the region received a foreclosure notice, against a national rate of about one in 159.
Foreclosure, USA explores Stockton’s foreclosed homes and the abruptly suspended housing developments in its hardest hit neighborhoods. It also documents the foreclosure industry and businesses affected by the housing crash. A city that twice received the All America City award from the National Civic League as it converted large tracts of farmland into “homes,” can surely teach us much about truly sustainable development. This project promotes dialogue about sustainable economic growth in local communities everywhere and educates about the real cost of the unquestioned American Dream.
RayKo Photo Center had the honor of showing this project back in early 2010 and we’re so proud of this museum acquisition and that Foreclosure, USA will be seen by a national and international audience.
RayKo Photo Center & Gallery is a comprehensive photographic facility, located near the Yerba Buena Arts District, with resources for anyone with a passion for photography. Established in the early 1990’s, RayKo Photo Center has grown to become one of San Francisco’s most beloved photography darkroom spaces; it includes traditional b&w, color and alternative process labs as well as a state-of-the-art digital department, a professional rental studio, galleries, and the Photographer’s Marketplace – a retail space promoting the work of regional artists. RayKo also has San Francisco’s 1st Art*O*Mat vending machine and a vintage 1947 black & white Auto-Photo Booth and a retail store that sells all types of used film cameras, from view cameras to Leicas to a build-your-own Nikon station. Everything you need to make any type of photograph!
RayKo Gallery serves to advance public appreciation of photography and create opportunities for regional, national and international artists to create and present their work. RayKo Gallery offers 1600 square feet of exhibition space and the Photographer’s Marketplace, which encourages the collection of artwork by making it accessible to collectors of all levels. RayKo also has an artist-in-residence program to further support artists in the development of their photographic projects and ideas.
RayKo Photo Center & Gallery
428 Third Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
Tuesday-Thursday: 10-10 pm
Friday-Sunday: 10-8 pm
*RayKo is located in the SOMA arts district of San Francisco within walking distance of SFMOMA, the Moscone Center, Yerba Buena Gardens, as well as AT&T Ballpark.