After checking out a handful of galleries and consuming 2 glasses of free white wine, a few of us made our way from the ritzy end of downtown over to a newer First Thursday event, the Upper TL art walk. (See event info here: http://sf.funcheap.com/event-series/polk-art-walk-sf/ )The Upper TL/Lower Polk Art Walk takes place on the edge of the Tenderloin neighborhood, a neighborhood made infamous for its drug culture and generally seedy nature. The Tenderloin, a central neighborhood next to downtown, has avoided gentrification for years due to its (somewhat truthful) reputation as a very dangerous neighborhood. Despite the smell of urine, drug venders on every corner, and high concentration of homeless, the neighborhood has begun the inevitable process of gentrification and has been deemed the "Trendlyloin" by certain circles, blogs, etc. The Upper TL Art Walk is a newer event spawning from recent alternative growth in the neighborhood, highlighting the emergence of new art galleries and workshops along the streets surrounding Polk St. between Geary and Sutter. We were handed a little postcard map with locations and gallery names and our exploration of the"upper" Tenderloin began. The galleries were a bit more hip, raw, and young feeling than those we had just visited in the high rise buildings surrounding Union Square. These galleries had walls filled with graffiti art and light installations and were less crowded.
There was free wine and snacks to celebrate a new exhibit at SMAart Gallery (http://smaartgallery.com/), a gallery that along with exhibits offers pottery/ceramic classes and studio space. Wandering around to different galleries listed on our postcard map handout was a bit like a scavenger hunt in the TL and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I should mention that I and my art appreciating cohorts for the evening actually work at a social service agency in the Tenderloin, so while the art galleries and art culture was new to us, the neighborhood is not. The Tenderloin is not quite as terrifying as most make it out to be, but its still a place to be attentive in as you're walking around. This Art Walk would actually be a great way for those less comfortable in the neighborhood to get a little introduction into world of the TL.
So to recap the FREE...
10+ art galleries, 2 neighborhoods, 3 glasses of wine
All in all a good evening. And we ended on something not free but worth the money...a serving of Kunefe for dessert at my favorite Turkish eatery in the city, A La Turca.