Bay Area Art & Activism Timeline

Starting with “SHELLMOUNDS,” the earliest evidence of human settlement in Bay Area, each title on our shelf represents a creative work, event, organization, movement, history or biography that has played a role in shaping the particular qualities of Bay Area art and media activism. In trying to survey our past, these are just a few of the countless stories we have to draw upon. We cannot tell them all since not all books will fit on one shelf. However, we hope that viewers will enjoy browsing this collection and be reminded of the deep roots of creativity, diversity, love and political liberation that have made the Bay Area so special. We have made our selections in the spirit of James Baldwin and Take This Hammer in order to highlight stories of uncompromising clarity and courageous artistic vision.

While the stories are arranged chronologically, we can draw upon any of them at anytime to bring the past into the present. Time is also a tool. For activists, this is one of the most powerful aspects of our art and media. Remembering and reiterating our stories allows us to work critically and knowledgeably with time and change–because progress is sometimes a seductive myth and ghosts can be helpful. Some stories will be familiar and hopefully some will not. We invite everyone to take note of these titles and look the stories up for themselves. They are listed here with short descriptions.

4000 BCE SHELLMOUNDS Ohlone Archaeology Shellmounds are large scale earthworks composed of shell midden deposits. They are the oldest archaeological evidence of human settlement in the Bay Area. Estimated at over 6,000 years old, they are a starting point from which to consider the creative and collaborative work that continues today.
1492 (1991) Almanac of the Dead Leslie Marmon Silko Book – Indigenous Storytelling Silko’s prophetic 1991 novel provides indigenous perspectives on the effects of European colonialism on space, time, and imagination in the Americas while modeling the radical possibilities of indigenous American storytelling, magic, and politics for the future.
1790 Hidden Mural of Mission Dolores Indigenous Artists Art – Indigenous Behind the first altar inside the sanctuary of Mission Dolores is a hidden mural rendered in ochre, red, white, yellow, black, and blue that includes abstract patterns and Christian imagery. The mural measures 21 inches high by 22 feet wide. In 1790, there were 456 Peninsula Costonoan (86%), 45 East Bay Costonoan (9%), 23 Coast Miwok (5%) and 1 Bay Miwok (>1%) at Mission Dolores.
1769 (2013) SAINTS & CITIZENS: Indigenous Histories of Colonial Missions and Mexican California Lisbeth Haas Book – History While focused on indigenous mission encounters in Southern California, Saints and Citizens: Indigenous Histories of Colonial Missions and Mexican California offers detailed accounts and interpretations of indigenous creative practices and political agency during the California Mission era.
1849 The Gold Rush & Comstock Silver Load Geopolitics – History San Francisco becomes a significant port of call with the discovery of gold in the Sierra Nevada foothills (1848–1855) and then silver in Western Nevada.
1871 San Francisco Art Association SFAI Organization – Education The San Francisco Art Association would establish one of the oldest art schools in the United States with the California School of Design (CSD) in 1874. CSD was renamed California School of Fine Arts in 1916, which then became the San Francisco Art Institute in 1961.
1888 Bayview Opera House Organization – Performance The Bay View Opera House Ruth Williams Memorial Theater is San Francisco’s oldest theater located at 4705 Third Street in the heart of Bayview Hunters Point.
1893 Xavier Martínez: Painting & Murals Artists Mexican-born Martinez, moved to San Francisco in 1893 and enrolled in the California School of Design (SFAI) to study painting. He became a central figure in the Bohemian art scene. Martinez was an instructor at the California College of Arts and Crafts (CCA) and the California School of Fine Arts (SFAI). He remained invested in his Mexican roots and published poetry and philosophy in Spanish.
1901 WAITRESSES ON STRIKE! Labor Movement Striking waitresses shut down 200 San Francisco restaurants.
1907 School of the California Guild of Arts and Crafts CCA Organization – Education The California College of Arts & Crafts (1936) was established, then later renamed the California College of the Arts (2003).
1910 Cantonese Poems Angel Island Immigration Station Poetry Angel Island served as an immigration station for people arriving from East Asia, South Asia, and Russia. The government detained and interrogated thousands of Chinese newcomers to determine whether they were lawful immigrants. While detained, many immigrants left poetry on the walls of the station.
1913 Tina Modotti Artists Actress, model, photographer, revolutionary political activist, Tina Modotti immigrates to United States from Italy and lives in San Francisco.
1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition Art – Exhibition The Panama–Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) was a world fair that took place in the Marina district of San Francisco between February 20 and December 4, 1915. The purpose of the fair was to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal, but it served as an opportunity to show the city re-built after the severe damages caused by the 1906 earthquake.
1930 Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera Artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo arrive in San Francisco. Rivera paints the Stock Exchange fresco “Allegory of California.” His visit would strongly influence many of the artists whom the government would later commission to decorate the walls of the new Coit Memorial Tower on Telegraph Hill.
1934 BLOODY THURSDAY San Francisco General Strike/West Coast Longshoremen’s Strike Labor Movement Violence and conflict ensue when police try to open the Port of San Francisco on Thursday July 5 of the 1934 West Coast Longshoremen’s Strike.
1934 Coit Tower Murals: “Aspects of Life in California” WPA Public Works of Art Project Public Art In 1933, New Deal relief administrator Harry L. Hopkins gave his support to a groundbreaking plan that commissioned artists to produce public works of art. He argued that “work relief,” was necessary because it not only provided otherwise jobless people with money to buy food, but also preserved their skills and restored their self-confidence.
1941 MAYA ANGELOU Collected Works Literature – Poetry Writer and activist Maya Angelou arrives in San Francisco arrives as a teen anger and attends high school. Angelou would go on to write I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and many other works.
1941 HARLEM OF THE WEST Geopolitics – Race Between 1941 and 1970, over 5 million African-Americans left the South for other parts of the United States. Drawn by World War II job opportunities in the Hunters Point Naval shipyard, many African-Americans settled in the Bay Area and established San Francisco, and the Fillmore District in particular, as a thriving West Coast hub of African American art, culture, and politics.
1946 (1976) CROSSROADS Bruce Connor Art – Experimental Film Bruce Connor’s 1976 experimental film used found footage of the United States’ 1946 nuclear weapons test at Bikini Atoll.
1942 (2006) In Good Conscience: Supporting Japanese Americans During the Internment Shizue Seigel Book – History Seigel’s book offers a comprehensive look at non-Japanese American allies that helped incarcerees during and after World War II.
1946 Rincon Annex Murals Anton Refregier Public Art Murals painted and censored. Refregier described his desire to paint the past, not as a romantic backdrop, but as part of the living present, a present shaped by the trauma of depression, strikes, and impending war. The controversial content would cause an uproar from conservatives who repeatedly attempted to censor it.
1946 OAKLAND GENERAL STRIKE Labor Movement Preceded by Strikes at Oakland department stores, Kahn’s and Hastings, by 400 women employees, the Oakland General Strike involved over 100,000 workers from the American Federation of Labor unions in Alameda County who declared a “work holiday” and walked off their jobs.
1952 Graphic Arts Workshop Radical Print Originally a range of classes operating under the umbrella of the Communist Party’s California Labor School, the Graphic Arts Workshop (GAW) became a separate entity sometime between 1949 and 1952 when conservative political pressure and the loss of their nonprofit status closed down the school.
1953 City Lights Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin Bookstore – Beat City Lights bookstore was founded in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin. Books and publications on alternative culture made it a unique destination for both locals and tourists. The store remains a legacy of anti-authoritarian, radical politics, and insurgent thinking.
1955 HOWL Allen Ginsburg Poetry Considered a benchmark in Beat poetry, Howl was written in three parts by poet and writer Allen Ginsberg in 1955. It was published as part of a 1956 collection by City Lights and became the target of a federal obscenity trial due to its references to drugs and sexually explicit content.
1956 The Ladder Daughters of Bilitis Publication – Lesbian The Daughters of Bilitis was founded in 1955 as a social group for San Francisco lesbians and grew into a national organization with the publication of The Ladder, their monthly magazine by and for lesbians. They would convene at a conference in 1960, the first national public gathering of lesbians in the US.
1957 (2010) 23 Women Artists and Artists of Color: 1950s-60s Carlos Villa – Artists – Internet Villa’s presents the work of women artists and artists of color from varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds who worked in a “pre post–race” environment, an era in which the artist hero was almost always a white male, in particular among abstract expressionists
1959 San Francisco Mime Troupe RG Davis Performance – Activism Founder RG Davis started avant-garde performance events in lofts and basements. When he discovered Commedia dell’Arte (Italian Renaissance marketplace comedy), he began a tradition of free shows in local parks. The troupe became a collective in 1970. Their performances include melodramas, spy thrillers, musical comedies, epic histories, sitcoms, and cartoon epics.
1960 The National Committee to Abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee Frank Wilkinson and Dick Criley Action – Civil Rights HUAC conducted hearings in San Francisco’s City Hall, drawing hundreds of protestors, mainly college students. Without warning, the police turn fire hoses on the protestors and push them down the staircase in the building’s rotunda. The following day, 5,000 people gathered in front of City Hall to protest against HUAC.
1961 Bernice Bing Collected Works Artists Artist Bernice Bing is born in San Francisco and would become an accomplished painter (MFA, SFAI ’61) who would head the South of Market Cultural Center (later renamed the SOMArts Cultural Center) in the 1980s.
1960 Marcus Books Julian and Raye Richardson – The Success Printing Co. Bookstore – Black In 1960, the thriving Black business district known as the Fillmore in San Francisco, Julian and Raye Richardson were co-owners of The Success Printing Company. After reading Marcus Garvey’s Philosophy and Opinions, they decided to change the names of their 30 year-old print shop and bookstore to Marcus Books Printing and Marcus Bookstores, which resulted in opening another store in Oakland, California.
1963 TAKE THIS HAMMER Dir. Richard O. Moore
Feat. James Baldwin – NET
Documentary Film – Race In 1963, Baldwin tours San Francisco for KQED’s documentary “Take This Hammer” on the African American community and publishes “The Fire Next Time,” which was about the civil rights movement and later became a national best seller.
1963 The Fire Next Time James Baldwin Book – Essay – Race The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin contains two essays: “My Dungeon Shook — Letter to my Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of Emancipation,” and “Down At The Cross — Letter from a Region of My Mind.”
1964 Civil Rights Act American History The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a landmark piece of civil rights legislation in the United States that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements, racial segregation in schools and at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public.
1964 FREE SPEECH MOVEMENT Movement – Civil Rights The Free Speech movement included Mario Savio, Jack Weinberg, Michael Rossman, Brian Turner, Bettina Aptheker, Steve Weissman, Art Goldberg, Jackie Goldberg, and others. In the spring of 1965, the FSM was followed by the Vietnam Day Committee, a major starting point for the anti-Vietnam war movement.
1965 Wee Pals Morrie Turner Illustration – Multiculturalism Wee Pals was a syndicated comic strip about a diverse group of children. The comic was created and produced by Morrie Turner. It was the first comic strip syndicated in the United States to have a cast of diverse characters dubbed the “Rainbow Gang.”
1965 Intersection for the Arts Organization – Art Intersection for the Arts was established in 1965 by an interfaith coalition of three churches with funding from the Glide Foundation. The organization began as a merger of several faith-based experiments that were using art to reach disenfranchised neighborhood youth and provide artists who were conscientious objectors with an alternative to serving in the Vietnam War.
1965 Delano Grape Strike Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee and the United Farm Workers Labor Movement On September 8, 1965, Filipino American grape workers and members of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee walked out on strike against Delano-area table and wine grape growers protesting years of poor pay and conditions. The Filipinos asked Cesar Chavez, who led a mostly Latino farm workers union, the National Farm Workers Association, to join their strike.
1966 Compton’s Cafeteria Riot Transgender Residents Protest – Police Violence Located, in the Tenderloin District at 101 Taylor Street, Compton’s Café was the sight of one of the first recorded transgender uprisings in the Unites States.
1966 HUNTERS POINT RIOT Protest – Police Violence – Racism Residents of San Francisco’s predominantly black Hunters Point neighborhood protest the killing a seventeen-year-old Matthew Johnson by a white police officer shot as the boy fled the scene of a stolen car. Police called in the Highway Patrol and National Guard to subdue the situation.
1967 The Black Panther Art, Graphics, Illustration by Emory Douglas, Minister of Culture BPP Publication – Movement – Black As the Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party, Emory Douglas was responsible for creating some of the most iconic images, graphics, and illustrations of the Black Power Movement.
1967 International Grape Boycott United Farm Workers Labor Movement See organized in conjunction with the Delano Grape Strike, the international consumer boycott of non-union grapes was instrumental in securing victory for Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee and the United Farm Workers against California grape growers.
1967 Western Addition Community Organization Hannibal Williams Geopolitics – Race WACO launched an all-out attack on the SF Redevelopment Agency whose redevelopment plans often targeted low-income residents and residents of color for displacement. Their lawsuit resulted in the 1975 Federal Uniform Relocation Act. Which says “if you use a dollar of federal money to displace a person, you have to use federal money to re-house them.”
1967 Neighborhood Arts Program SFAC Organization – Art A project of the San Francisco Arts Commission was one of the first community arts programs established in the United States and worked to ensure residents of the city experienced and participated in the arts.
1967 The Human Be-In and the Summer of Love Movement – Counterculture The Human Be-In was an event in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park held on January 14, 1967. It was a prelude to San Francisco’s Summer of Love, which made the Haight-Ashbury district a symbol of American counterculture.
1968 SF STATE STRIKE!: The Longest Student Strike in U.S. History Third World Liberation Front Action – Social Justice – Education The Third World Liberation Front (TLWF) led a student strike at San Francisco State University that lasted five months. TLWF was a joint effort of the Black Student Union, Latin American Students Organization, Asian American Political Alliance, Filipino American Collegiate Endeavor, and Native American Students Union.
1968 COAL Audre Lorde Poetry Poet Audre Lorde published her first work in 1968. COAL (published 1976) established Lorde as an iconic voice of the Black Arts Movement.
1968 The Rolling Quads UC Berkeley Students with Disabilities Movement – Disability Rights UC Berkeley Students with disabilities organize and advocate for accessible classrooms, curb cuts in the City of Berkeley, and other accommodations for people with disabilities.
1969 INDIANS WELCOME: Occupation of Alcatraz Indians of All Tribes Action – Geopolitics – Indigenous Nearly 100 young Native American Indians, mostly students, occupied Alcatraz, demanding the US government cede the island to Native American people.
1969 UC BERKELEY STRIKE!: The 2nd Longest Student Strike in U.S. History Third World Liberation Front Action – Social Justice – Education TWLF led a student strike at UC Berkeley, which included the Mexican American Student Confederation, Asian American Political Alliance, African American Student Union, and the Native American group.
1969 Exploratorium Frank Oppenheimer Art – Technology The Exploratorium is a museum and public learning laboratory in San Francisco focused on science, art, and human perception.
1970 Galería de la Raza Organization – Chicano/Latino Art Art and cultural center located in the heart of the Mission district was founded by Rupert García, Peter Rodríguez, Francisco X. Camplis, Graciela Carrillo, Jerry Concha, Gustavo Ramos Rivera, Carlos Loarca, Manuel Villamor, Robert González, Luis Cervantes, Chuy Campusano, Rolando Castellón, Ralph Maradiaga, and René Yañez.
1970 Royal Chicano Air Force José Montoya and Esteban Villa Radical Print The Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF) is an artistic collective based in Sacramento. Initially named the Rebel Chicano Art Front, the RCAF was founded in 1969 to express the goals of the Chicano civil rights and labor organizing movement of the United Farm Workers.
1971 KPOO 89.5 FM Poor People’s Radio Radio – Social Justice KPOO is an independent, listener-sponsored, noncommercial radio station.
1971 La Raza Silkscreen Center / La Raza Graphics Center Radical Print One of the most prolific and influential poster centers of the Bay Area, LRSC/LRGC not only served as a cultural hub in San Francisco’s Mission District, it attracted artists from all over the world.
1971 Modern Times Book Store Bookstore – Collective Collectively owned and operated community bookstore in the Mission.
1975 The Morning Breaks: The Trial of Angel Davis Bettina Aptheker Book – History Arrested on October 13, 1970, on suspicion of conspiracy in the 1970 armed take-over of a Marin County courthouse, Davis was a highly recognized and controversial African American scholar and activist. She was acquitted in San Jose by an all-white jury in 1972. The extraordinarily effective local and national grassroots movement for her freedom is documented by her close friend Dr. Bettina Aptheker.
1972 YARDBIRD READER Ishmael Reed and Al Young Publication – Multiculturalism Ishmael Reed, along with Al Young and several others, founded The Yardbird Reader to be a multi-cultural magazine devoted to literature and art. They published five issues between 1972-1976 before a legal dispute caused Reed and Young to lose the rights to the magazine. They published Yardbird Lives! in 1978 as a means of recouping some of their financial outlay, and eventually Y’Bird, but a court ruled they could use neither of these names.
1972 Kearny Street Workshop Organization – Asian American Art Founded in 1972, during the height of the Asian American cultural movement, Kearny Street Workshop (KSW) is the oldest Asian Pacific American multidisciplinary arts organization in the country.
1973 Third World Communications Collective Publication – Social Justice Members of the Third World Communications Collective included: Nina Serrano, Alejandro Stuart, Fernando Alegrià, Rupert Garcia, Janice Mirikitani, Serrafín Syquia, Geraldine Kudaka, George Leong, Victor Heràndez Cruz, and Jessica Hagedorn.
1972 Día de los Muertos in San Francisco René Yañez Public Art – Chicano/Latino Yañez brought the tradional Mexican ritual celebration to San Francisco’s Mission District and as an annual exhibition free to the community at the SOMArts Cultural Center.
1974 Inkworks Press Radical Print In 1974, several founders embarked on creating a movement print shop to meet the deep need for community-based media facilities to suppport activism against the Vietnam War, for international solidarity, civil rights, feminism, LGBT rights.
1974 THE FARM Bonnie Sherk & Jack Wickert Geopolitics – Community A life-scale environmental and social artwork that brought many people from different disciplines, cultures, and species—plants and animals together. The Farm was involved in extensive land transformation that included the integration of disparate land parcels—all adjacent to and incorporating a major freeway interchange into a new city culture-ecology park.
1974 The Women’s Press Project / The Women’s Press Radical Print The Mission-based nonprofit Women’s Skills Center set up the WPP for vocational skills training in the printing trade. They were collectively run and moved to their own facility on Otis Street in 1980.
1975 MEDIA BURN Ant Farm Performance Art – Media Staged in the Cow Palace parking lot for local television news outlets, Media Burn was an early experiment in viral media.
1976 Bay Area Video Coalition Organization – Media Founded by a coalition of activist and media makers, BAVC has provided media technology tools and resources to the Bay Area community for the past forty years.
1976 Bound Together Books Bookstore – Anarchist Bound Together Bookstore is an Anarchist collective-run bookstore featuring radical literature and events located in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury district.
1976 San Francisco Bay View Publication – Black The San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper was founded in 1976. It is a communications network for the Black community worldwide. The organization publishes a free print edition distributed throughout the Bay Area and mailed to subscribers, including hundreds of prisoners all over the country.
1977 Supervisor Harvey Milk District Five Movement – LGBTQ San Francisco voters elect Harvey Milk to the SF Board of Supervisors, making Milk the first openly gay public official in the state of California and one of the most famous in the United States. Milk was assassinated along with Mayor Moscone less than one year by Supervisor Dan White.
1977 Precita Eyes Muralists Association Susan and Luis Cervantes Organization – Public Art Precita Eyes Muralists Association and Center, established in 1977, founded by Susan and Luis Cervantes and other artists in San Francisco’s Mission District, is a multipurpose community based arts organization that has played an integral role in the city’s cultural heritage and arts education.
1977 Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts / Mission Gráfica Organization – Chicano/Latino Art The Mission Cultural center for Latino Arts (MCCLA) was originally called the Palmeto Museum. Founded in the 1970s by a group of San Francisco State University students.
1977 (1907) THE I-HOTEL Protest – Geopolitics – Asian American The International Hotel (I-Hotel) became the last stand of San Francisco’s Manilatown. The hotel had been a residence of Asian seasonal migrant workers and Filipino Americans and their families since 1907. Beginning in 1968, city officials issued widespread eviction notices to tenants, targeting the building for removal and re-development. By 1977, political resistance to the evictions culminated in a massive public demonstration in 1977. After the removal of the last residents, the building was demolished in 1981.
1977 SECTION 504 SIT-IN: The Longest Federal Building Occupation in U.S. History Emergency 504 Coalition Action – Disability Rights As part of a coordinated nationwide action, disability rights activists organize the longest federal building occupation in US History at U.S. Department of Health Education Welfare in San Francisco.
1978 The Dream of a Common Language Adrienne Rich Poetry The first publication for Rich after she came out as a lesbian. The book is divided into three sections: 1) “Power,” 2) “Twenty One Love Poems,” and 3) “Not Somewhere Else, But Here.”
1978 SOMArts Cultural Center Organization – Art In the 1960s, the Neighborhood Arts Program (NAP) was created by the San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) in order to promote community by providing funding for the arts. Under the direction of Martin Snipper, the city purchased the 17,000 square foot Brannan Street building.
1979 Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Performance – LGBTQ Activism A charity, protest, and street performance organization that uses drag and religious imagery to call attention to sexual intolerance and satirize issues of gender and morality.
1979 White Night Riots Protest – LGBTQ When Dan White was received a lenient sentencing for the killing of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, a series of violent uprisings by the gay community took place all over the city.
1980 Webworks: Voices of the Native Nation Mary Jean Robertson – KPOO 89.5 Radio – Indigenous Originally called “Red Voices,” Webworks is a radio program on indigenous issues. It airs on the second, third and fourth Wednesday of each month.
1983 BAY AREA PEACE NAVY Members of the American Friends Service Committee Performance – Anti-war Activism The Bay Area Peace Navy used water-based guerrilla theatre and direct action to block arms shipments from the Bay Area’s Port Chicago to Central America.
1983 Mama Bears Bookstore Bookstore – Women Mama Bears Women’s Bookstore was one of the oldest feminist bookstores in the country. Based in Berkeley, California, it featured a wide selection of books of interest to women. It closed in 2003.
1984 Artists’ Television Access John Martin and Marshall Weber Organization – Art – Media Artists’ Television Access (ATA) is a San Francisco-based, artist-run, non-profit organization that cultivates and promotes culturally-aware, underground media and experimental art. The organization provides an accessible screening venue and gallery for the presentation of programmed and guest-curated screenings, exhibitions, performances, workshops and events.
1984 Culture Clash: The Collected Works Performance – Chicano Writers for Culture Clash included José Antonio Burciaga, Marga Gómez, Monica Palacios, Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas, and Herbert Siguenza.
1985 AIDS/ARC VIGIL The longest running act of civil disobedience in San Francisco Action – Health Care – LGBTQ The vigil began on a small scale when two men, Steven Russell and Frank Bert, chained themselves to the door of the Federal Building at the UN Plaza to protest the government’s inaction in the face of the devastating AIDS virus that infected half the gay male population in San Francisco. A group of supporters gathered and started the 24-hour a day vigil that lasted ten years.
1985 Contraband Sara Shelton Mann Performance Art In 1979, Mann formed CONTRABAND, a group of collaborative artists dedicated to the evolution of an interdisciplinary dance vision.
1986 Brava Theater Center/Brava! For Women in the Arts Organization – Performance In 1986, Ellen Gavin and group of 75 women artists, met at Galería de la Raza in San Francisco’s Mission District with the intention of bringing attention to the unspoken realities of women’s lives through theater. These artists expressed their creative passion by producing a black lesbian event at the African American Art & Culture Complex in the Western Addition District, followed by a women’s writing showcase at the Victoria Theater. In the midst of these two projects, Brava! For Women in the Arts was founded.
1987 ACT UP Movement – LGBTQ AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) is an international direct action advocacy group working to impact the lives of people with AIDS (PWAs). Gran Fury was the art collective that created the most iconic visuals of the movement. There are two ACT UP affiliated groups in San Francisco, ACT UP/Golden Gate (renamed Survive AIDS) and ACT UP/SF.
1989 African American Art and Culture Complex Organization – Art In July 1989, Supervisor Willie B. Kennedy forwarded a resolution to the Board of Supervisors that urged the Mayor and County of San Francisco to consider the sale or long-term lease of the Western Addition Cultural Center to better reflect the needs of the community in terms of programming, management and operations. The resolution passed unanimously and the Center for African and African American Art and Culture was founded. The organization was later renamed to African American Art and Culture Complex.
1989 Asian American Women Artists Association Betty Kano, Flo Oy Wong, and Moira Roth Organization – Art Asian American Women Artists Association (AAWAA) was founded in 1989 in San Francisco by Betty Kano, Flo Oy Wong, and Moira Roth to promote the visibility of Asian American women artists and to serve as a vehicle for personal expression with a view of Asian American cultures and history from women’s perspective.
1989 Hunters Point: Toxic Superfund Site US Navy & EPA Geopolitics – Race – Environment Contaminated by toxins, the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard was added to the list of Federal Superfund Sites in 1989. The shipyard, located in the historically black Bayview District, was also the location of the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory (NRDL) from 1948 to 1969 which conducted radiological decontamination of ships exposed to atomic weapons testing as well as research and experiments on radiation on living organisms, and the effects of radiation on materials.
1990 “Border Brujo” for Borderwatch: Five Years Later Guillermo Gómez-Peña Performance Art Sitting at an altar decorated with a kitsch collection of cultural fetish items, and wearing a border patrolman’s jacket decorated with buttons, bananas, beads, and shells, Gómez-Peña delivers a sly and bitter indictment of U.S. colonial attitudes toward Mexican culture and history.
1990 Electronic Frontier Foundation Organization – Media – Civil Rights The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development.
1992 Clarion Alley Mural Project Public Art The project was founded by Aaron Noble, Michael O’Connor, Sebastiana Pastor, Rigo 92, Mary Gail Snyder, and Aracely Soriano.
1989 TONGUES UNTIED Marlon Riggs Experimental Documentary – Black Sexuality Oakland-based Marlon Riggs pushed the experimental documentary format. His works provides radical visual and performance methods for documenting Black and Queer identity in the United States
1997 Dot Com Bubble Geopolitics – Technology The “dot-com bubble” (also referred to as the dot-com boom, the Internet bubble, the dot-com collapse, and the information technology bubble) was a historic speculative bubble covering roughly 1997–2000.
1999 Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition Geopolitics – Race The Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition (MAC) formed in order to fight displacement brought upon the neighborhood by the tech start-ups and evictions of the dot-com boom in the late 1990s. MAC learned the importance of zoning and local government’s land use powers as a potential terrain of engagement in seeking to determine the course of neighborhood redevelopment.
1994 Sister Spit Poetry – Performance – Queer Sister Spit is a lesbian-feminist spoken-word and performance art collective based in San Francisco, signed to Mr. Lady Records. They formed in 1994 and disbanded in 2006. Founding members included Michelle Tea, Sini Anderson, Jane LeCroy, and poet Eileen Myles.
1994 Loco Bloco Music – Activism – Education Loco Bloco’s mission is to promote San Francisco youth’s healthy transition into adulthood by engaging them in the creation and performance of music, dance, and theater rooted in Afro-Latino traditions.
1995 Mail Order Brides/M.O.B. Immaculata, Neneng, and Baby Performance Art – Media For over 15 years, Reanne “Immaculata” Estrada, Eliza “Neneng” Barrios, and Jenifer “Baby” Wofford have worked collaboratively as Mail Order Brides/M.O.B., a trio of Filipina-American artists engaged in an ongoing conversation with culture and gender.
1996 The Beat Within Incarcerated Youth Publication – Social Justice – Education A literary project and publication for the writing and art of incarcerated youth.
1997 Critical Resistance Organization – Prison Abolition Critical Resistance was formed in 1997 when activists challenging the idea that imprisonment and policing are a solution for social, political, and economic problems came together to organize a conference that examined and challenged what we have come to call the prison industrial complex (PIC).
1997 Ice Car Cage Jules Beckman, Jess Curtis, Keith Hennessy Performance Art Collaborative choreography, design, performance commissioned by SF Lesbian & Gay Dance Festival.
1971 Japantown Art and Media Center Organization – Media Mandated by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency’s Nihonmachi Master Plan, in 1971 construction of a community center in Japantown was approved at community meetings. Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC) was selected as the name of the future facility.
2000 Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project Organization – Media Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project (QWOCMAP) began in 2000 with funding from California Arts Council for award-winning San Francisco filmmaker Madeleine Lim to conduct a series of free workshops serving queer women of color emerging media artists.
2000 Femina Potens Madison Young Organization – Art Femina Potens is a non-profit arts organization celebrating difference and exploring identity through cultural and eduational experiences that serve to enrich the lives of LGBTA and allied communities. Since 2000, we have presented ground-breaking performances and exhibitions that create space necessary for dialogue and chage in marginalized communities.
2002 Design Action Collective Radical Design – Collective Worker-owned and managed collective union print shop that was a spin off from Inkworks Press.
2003 Dignidad Rebelde Jesus Barraza and Melanie Cervantes Radical Print A graphic arts collaboration that follows principles of Xicanisma and Zapatismo.
2005 Fifth Stream Music / Asian American Jazz Orchestra (AAJO) Dr. Anthony Brown Music – Activism – Education In 1997, leaders of San Francisco’s Asian American creative music movement founded the Asian American Jazz Orchestra (AAJO), under the auspices of a San Francisco-based, federally funded multimedia consortium project to provide provide education nationally about the Japanese internment experiences of World War II.
2007 The Great Tortilla Conspiracy René Yañez, Jos Sances, Rio Yañez, and Art Hazelwood Performance – Activism The world’s most dangerous tortilla art collective.
2007 Tech Boom 2.0 Geopolitics -Technology Apple’s launch of the first iPhone combined with the rapid growth of services like Google, Facebook, and Twitter to lay the ground for the Bay Area’s second technology-based economic boom. By 2013, unprecedented rises in the cost of living and aggressive housing speculation cause widespread displacement that continues today.
2009 Citizen Four Laura Poitras Documentary Film – Civil Rights Bay Area technologist and activist Micah Lee provided the technical support to help soon-to-be NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden get in touch with film maker Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald.
2009 DON’T CAP! CLEAN! Hunters Point Naval Shipyard Protest Protest – Environmental Racism Over one hundred Bayview residents and environmental justice advocates protest Lennar Corporations dangerous and mismanaged efforts to remove toxins from the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.
2011 OCCUPY Movement – Economic Justice The Occupy movement was the national and the international expression of the Occupy Wall Street movement that protested against social and economic inequality around the world. The movement’s prime concerns dealt with how large corporations (and the global financial system) control the world in a way that disproportionately benefits a minority, undermines democracy, and is unstable.
2012 Liberating Ourselves Locally/L.O.L. Organization – Technology A people-of-color-led, gender-diverse, queer and trans inclusive hacker and maker space founded in Oakland, California.
2013 #BLACK LIVES MATTER Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi Movement – Black Black Lives Matter (BLM) began with the online hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter, and grew into a national and international organizing project that is an affirmation and embrace of the resistance and resilience of Black people. BLM organizes protests around the killing of black people by law enforcement officers, and broader issues of racial profiling, police brutality, and racial inequality in the United States criminal justice system.
2013 Google Bus Protests Heart of the City Action – Performance – Geopolitics On December 9, 2013, a group of artists, activists, and community members staged a theatrical intervention, blocking the departure of a Google commuter shuttle from a City-owned Muni bus stop at the corner of 22nd Street and Valencia. The group symbolically issued a one billion dollar citation for illegal use of city infrastructure. This was the most widely reported of several commuter shuttle actions organized by Heart of the City.
2013 Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Geopolitics – Media Activism A data collection and visualization storytelling collective. The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project has provided vital information for combating widespread eviction and housing displacement in San Francisco.
2014 The Dance that Documents Itself Jess Curtis/Gravity Performance Art Digital media, documentation, and real-time performance/audience experience create an exploration of the impact of the digital world on our artistic practices and a critical engagement with the impact of tech on the art & culture of San Francisco.
2014 SHUT IT DOWN: West Oakland BART Black Lives Matter Action – Social Justice For 4.5 hours at West Oakland BART Station, fourteen BLACK LIVES MATTER activists stopped all trains by chaining themselves between two trains.
2016 SHUT IT DOWN: The Bay Bridge Black.Seed Action – Social Justice On Dr. Martin Luther King Day 2016, twenty-five black queer liberation activists peacefully shut down westbound traffic on the Bay Bridge for thirty minutes by shackling themselves to the bridge and vehicles.