Southern Exposure (art space)

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Southern Exposure
Established 1974
Location 3030 20th Street, San Francisco, California USA


Southern Exposure (SoEx) is a not-for-profit arts organization and alternative art space founded in 1974 in the Mission District of San Francisco, California.

Southern Exposure is an artist-centered non-profit organization that is committed to supporting visual artists. Through its extensive and innovative programming, Southern Exposure strives to experiment, collaborate and further educate while providing an extraordinary resource center and forum for Bay Area and national artists and youth in their Mission District space and off-site, in the public realm.

An active presence in the Bay Area since 1974, SoEx continually evolves in response to the needs of artists and the community while engaging the public in artists' work. Central to their mission is to remain the most accessible space for visual artists to produce and present new work, learn, and connect. SoEx provide visual artists with the tools and resources they need to experiment in an open and supportive environment. They also work to advocate to new, diverse audiences and build an ever-growing community of enthusiasts and supporters of the visual arts.


Founded in 1974 by a community of artists at Project Artaud in San Francisco seeking an alternative to the commercial gallery scene, Southern Exposure quickly gained a reputation for being one of the most experimental alternative arts spaces in the country. The organization’s principles of being artist-run and unafraid to present risk-taking, forward looking noncommercial visual art continue to guide SoEx’s board and staff.

In 2006, Southern Exposure left their home of 32 years at Project Artaud, and for 3 years they became a nomadic organization and had the opportunity to radically reshape their programs while occupying two small Mission District storefront spaces and presenting off-site, itinerant projects. Through that process, SoEx emerged as a re-energized organization with new audience members, greater capacity, and an expanded program. In 2009, they opened a new building in the Northeast Mission District only blocks from their original location. Since then they have embraced the experimental programs that became emblematic of their nomadic years, while continuing to innovate new models for providing direct, accessible support to visual artists. Since early 2003, the organization has been led by Executive Director, Courtney Fink.


Exhibitions and Projects[edit]

SoEx offers visual artists the opportunity to work in formats and contexts that extend and challenge their artistic development and offers exposure to new audiences. With a focus on commissioning new work, SoEx supports artists in the development of large-scale projects, performances, workshops, and through residencies and gatherings to create a forum on contemporary sociopolitical and cultural issues and new modes of production. An artist-run Curatorial Committee made up of a rotating group of 8 artists and 2 staff members selects artists to develop and present new ideas.

Southern Exposure's exhibition program is curated by a committee of artists from the community. Artists that have shown at Southern Exposure include Harrell Fletcher, Lee Walton, Glowlab, Neighborhood Public Radio, Packard Jennings, Amy Balkin, Red 76, Jon Rubin, Ann Chamberlain, David Ireland, Alex Kahn, Amy Franceschini, Michael Swaine, Christian Maychack, Scott Oliver, Whitney Lynn, Stephanie Syjuco, and others.[1]

Each year, SoEx has a juried exhibition with an open call. The show is curated by a respected international curator (past curaotrs of the annual exhibition have included Magali Arriola,[2] Tom Finkelpearl, and Kristan Kennedy,[3] There is no fee for artists to submit their work for review.

Artists in Education[edit]

SoEx's Artists in Education (AIE) program provides intensive art education programs to hundreds of underserved youth each year through in-school, after-school, and summer arts programs. SoEx provides teaching opportunities for artists and connects these artists to youth to provide critical and conceptual models for addressing the challenges of urban life.

Grant Program: Alternative Exposure[edit]

One of SoEx's main goals is to support the professional development of artists so they are able to live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area. Alternative Exposure, SoEx’s grant program founded in partnership with the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, provides more than $65,000 of grants each year to individuals who work to promote other artists through exhibition spaces, publications, websites, critical writing and other activities.

SoEx Off-Site: Public Art[edit]

Since moving from Project Artaud in 2006,[4] Southern Exposure has supported "offsite" projects which happen in the city of San Francisco. SoEx's supported projects include rebargroup which mapped and used San Francisco's privately owned public spaces.

SoEx Off-Site commissions new temporary work throughout the San Francisco Bay Area that intervenes and interacts in the social and political spheres beyond the gallery. Public art is the newest addition to our programmatic agenda, and SoEx is one of only a few venues committed to supporting emerging artists working in the public realm.

Public Programs[edit]

SoEx engages in providing workshops, lectures, performances, talks, screenings, education programs, and symposia to create forums on contemporary aesthetic, sociopolitical and cultural issues, and that are designed to expand on ideas and issues presented in concurrent projects. SoEx provides access to affordable art through its Monster Drawing Rally, Auction and limited editions art works.


SoEx produces documentation for every project as a way to stimulate dialogue and engagement with the artwork and to encourage critical writing about the arts. SoEx considers documentation invaluable to exhibiting artists as it chronicles their projects and provides them with an immediate resource to use in promoting their work.


  1. ^ SoEx Exhibition Archive
  2. ^ SF Station Review of 14th Annual Exhibition
  3. ^ calendar
  4. ^ SoEx site "After 32 extraordinary years at our home at Project Artaud, we are temporarily moving to a wonderful storefront location in the Mission District while our space undergoes a seismic retrofit and renovation. We will be leaving our current space in late June 2006..."

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°46′05″N 122°25′22″W / 37.768040°N 122.422740°W / 37.768040; -122.422740