Gray Area Foundation for the Arts

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Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, Inc. is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization supporting Art & Technology for Social Good in San Francisco, California. The mission is to apply art and technology to create social and civic impact through education, incubation and public programs. Gray Area uses digital tools to create art and design projects that benefit society. Gray Area tests and scales projects with high impact potential, teach digital tools to support artists and technologists, and inspire our community by promoting meaningful new work. Gray Area Foundation for the Arts applies the promise and inspiration of digital art to a broader social context. The programs are transforming cities into creative outlets, applying technology to solve problems, and shaping how art is created and consumed in the digital era. Founded in 2006 by its Executive Director Josette Melchor and Board Chairman Peter Hirshberg, Gray Area joins similarly focused institutions, like Eyebeam Art and Technology Center and Ars Electronica, in promoting the intersections of art, technology and community by working to produce, exhibit, and develop the creative technical skills that allow for experimentation with and exploration of the most contemporary technologies.


Following a conversation in 2006 about the lack of proper venues for the exhibition of new media and technology based art work, Melchor and Hirshberg initially opened Gray Area Gallery in San Francisco's South of Market (SoMa).[1][2] By 2008, the gallery incorporated as a non-profit and was renamed Gray Area Foundation for The Arts. In June 2009, Gray Area relocated to its present facility near the end of Taylor Street . In total, the 8,000-square-foot (740 m2) location had included in addition to the pornography arcade, a bar (Club 65) and liquor store. Leased from property owner Jack Sumski, the space allowed Gray Area to expand its well-established exhibition platform to include artist residencies, educational workshops and symposiums, growing Gray Area into the comprehensive and integrated center for the creation and promotion of technology-based art it is today.

When the Art Theatres pornography arcade that had been there since the 1970s moved out,[3][4] Sumski decided that "it was time to do something in my old age, to get something going, and give the Tenderloin a future" and invested heavily to prepare the site for Gray Area.[5][6] Gray Area Foundation for The Arts is part of a coalition of city agencies, arts organizations and community service providers seeking to revitalize a neighborhood that has historically struggled with the effects of substance abuse, addiction and poverty.[7][8]



Gray Area regularly hosts exhibitions focusing on interactive multimedia and technology, by local and international artists. Past exhibitions held at Gray Area Foundation for the Arts:

  • Zimoun: Solo Exhibition Zimoun
  • Milleux Sonores: Daniel Bisig/Martin Neukom/Jan Schacher, Jason Kahn, Yves Netzhammer/Bernd Schurer, Felix Profos and Jeroen Strijbos/Rob van Rijswijk.
  • Open: C.E.B. Reas, Camille Utterback
  • Prototype: Alphonzo Solorzano, Gabriel Dunne, Ryan Alexander, Miles Stemper & Daniel Massey
  • Transpose: Aaron Koblin & Robert Hodgin


Gray Area Foundation for the Arts offers educational workshops in open source software, such as Processing, SuperCollider, openFrameworks and Arduino as well as electronic sewing, soft circuitry, and wearable technology.

Partnerships and projects[edit]

Gray Area Foundation for The Arts has partnered with MIT Senseable City Lab to produce a multi-faceted series of community initiatives and symposiums called Senseable Cities Speaker Series.[9]

City Centered Festival brought together artists, educators and community leaders within the Tenderloin district to generate ideas of using 'locative media' to better understand and connect in their environment.[10]

Syzygryd is a collaboration with three other arts organizations (Interpretive Arson, False Profit Labs & Ardent Heavy Industries), to create a large scale interactive art piece to be unveiled at the 2010 Burning Man event.[11]

Artist residency[edit]

The first five resident artists (Alphonzo Solorzano, Gabriel Dunne, Ryan Alexander, Miles Stemper and Daniel Massey) moved into the space in July 2009. In 2010, three of these resident artists remained. (Gabriel Dunne, Ryan Alexander and Daniel Massey)[12]

Media coverage[edit]

Gray Area's Josette Melchor was selected as one of the five innovators showcased on Ford's The Edge of Progress Tour.[13]


  1. ^ "forward/slash: The Gray Area Foundation for the Arts Story". 2009. Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  2. ^ Mid-Market Street Monitor (2009). "Examiner on Mid-Market Street revival". Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  3. ^ San Francisco Chronicle (30 September 2009). "An art gallery blossoms on seedy Taylor Street". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  4. ^ SF Weekly (2009). "Arts groups create new music opportunities in the Tenderloin". Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  5. ^ San Francisco Business Times (24 May 2009). "Mid-Market arts district may finally premiere". Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  6. ^ Mid-Market Street Monitor (2009). "Examiner on Mid-Market Street revival". Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  7. ^ SF Gov: Office of the Mayor (2010). "Mayor Newsom Announces San Francisco Arts Commission Awarded $250,000 Grant...". Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  8. ^ SF Examiner (2010). "Steve Falk: Mid-Market Street's best new hope can happen". Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  9. ^ Gray Area (2010). "Senseable Cities Speaker Series". Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  10. ^ "City Centered website". 2010. Retrieved 10 January 2011. 
  11. ^ "". 2010. Retrieved 10 January 2011. 
  12. ^ Gray Area (2010). "Artists". Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  13. ^ "The Edge of Progress Tour: Technological Art and Robotic Filmmakers in San Francisco". 2009. Retrieved 6 January 2011. 

External links[edit]