Triple Base Gallery: White Glove Inspection

Triple Base Gallery, Thursday-Sunday 12-5pm, (please check for special evening hours), 3041 24th Street @ Treat (btw Folsom & Harrison) San Francisco, CA 94110,, phone: 415.643.3943,

Do you ever dream about being able to do the one-stop-shopping thing and get an overview of the work of Bay Area emerging artists in one gallery visit?

Well, close your eyes and imagine an art gallery that’s open on a Sunday in a cool neighborhood next to a joint where you can get a great fish taco. Now imagine that the gallery owner likes you and lets you look through her inventory in a no-pressure environment and takes the time to educate you about each artist whose work you’re viewing. And there’s more: the majority of pieces for sale are in your price range. (No uncomfortable embarrassment while the gallery director and assistant unwrap canvas after canvas while you know all along you can’t afford anything they’re showing you.)

Now open your eyes- it’s not a dream. You’re at Triple Base in the Mission and you’re wearing white gloves and looking through the “flat files,” metal cabinets with shallow drawers which store works on paper numbering close to 300 and featuring the work of over 30 different young artists. Prices start at $75 and range up to $2000, with the majority around $500 (unframed). The only thing that’s different from your dream is that there are two gallery directors: Joyce Grimm and Dina Pugh.

You now know you’re not asleep but the fantasy goes on. Joyce and Dina have just invited you to their next dinner lecture held at a real live-work loft where the Dean of CCA, Larry Rinder, will give a talk about Triple Base’s featured artist of the month and the dinner is catered by underground chef Leif Hedendal who serves an I-can’t-believe-this-is-vegan organic gourmet three course dinner. And no, you don’t need to pinch yourself; you DO see Jack Hanley, Gary Sangster, Executive Director of Headlands Center for the Arts, Svea Lin Vezzone of Swarm and Terri Kwiatek, Co-President of SFMOMA’s SECA, all enjoying the party too.

Joyce and Dina became friends while enrolled in the Masters of Curatorial Practice graduate program at California College of the Arts. Larry Rinder was Dina’s thesis advisor and has since taken the pair under his wing. Rinder says, “They have thrown themselves totally into the cultural mix of our city. And they've done so in a way that combines idealism and pragmatism extremely effectively. When they took over Triple Base, the space already had an excellent reputation. They kept a lot of what Oliver had started alive, in terms of the warm and generous connection to local artists, and added some ideas of their own, like flat-files and the dinner talks. Triple Base is now one of the most vital and dynamic of any Bay Area arts organizations. Dina and Joyce have shown that you can make a really important contribution without a great deal of money. Their dedication, talent, and inclusive spirit naturally draw others around them. It's not surprising at all that so many people are cheering them on.”

The gallery was founded in 2003 by two artists Oliver Halsman Rosenberg and Clint Tanaguchi who used the storefront as their studio and as a community project space. The founders moved on to make their art in New York and Tokyo, respectively, and entrusted Triple Base to the women before they left. (The original name, Triple Base, was a reference to a vision of being one of many “bases” with similar vision connected internationally.)

Having a curatorial background comes in handy when you’re working with young artists who don’t yet have a mature body of work. The two agree that Joyce is slightly more hands-on in the creative process and Dina is more hands-off but both women enjoy their role as mentor, drawing out strong potential that they see in the work.

Modeled after the Pierogi Gallery in Brooklyn, the “flat files” pay the rent and allow the co-directors to use the rest of the space for sheer artistic expression including experimental performance and installation art. Artwork in the files is rotated out every six months and every month or so a new artist is added to the mix.

Time management is an art form here as well. Both women have been holding down full-time jobs while simultaneously running Triple Base Gallery. It is truly a labor of love.

Joyce is Gallery Assistant at the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery (your tax dollars at work). Meg Shiffler, Gallery Director, is supportive of their mission as well: “Joyce and Dina have [contributed to the San Francisco art community] by developing a space that is not a nonprofit alternative space and not a commercial gallery. It is important in this age of dwindling arts funding to come up with new models that address long-term stability. This is an agile space that can easily transform itself to suit the needs of each exhibition/artist. Triple Base offers patrons of the arts an opportunity to see works by young artists at the beginning of their careers - long industrious careers if Joyce and Dina have anything to say about it!"

Until this week, Dina was the Director of the Jack Hanley Gallery. (Hanley has galleries in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, and represents a number of critically acclaimed young San Francisco artists including Tauba Auerbach, Leslie Shows, Simon Evans, Chris Johanson, and Shaun O’Dell.) But after a valuable year working with Jack Hanley, Dina has resigned from the position, making the weighty decision to dedicate herself 100% to running Triple Base. While they are lucky to have three talented interns, the business partners decided it was important to have one of the two principals in the space at all times. Dina will use this gift of additional time to further Triple Base’s work with artists, manage the logistics of participating in national and international art fairs and raise funding.