Gallery 16 Celebrates Fifteen Year Anniversary Thanks to Jesse Helms

Gallery 16 Fifteenth Anniversary Group Show: These Are The People In Your Neighborhood through November 7, 2008; Opening reception on Friday September 12 from 6 - 9pm with live band "Or, The Whale"; 501 3rd St (at Bryant); San Francisco; Mon-Fri 9-5 Sat 11-5; (415) 626-7495;

Numerologists have yet to opine but there must have been something auspicious about 1616 16th Street when Gallery 16 and Urban Digital Color opened there in 1993. Back then, the neighborhood was so isolated (before California College of the Arts established its Potrero campus and the blocks around the Design Center were built up) that principal Griff Williams thought for sure they'd be shuttered within a year.

Griff Williams founded Gallery 16 at a time when the outlook for publicly funded art in America was dim. Williams was intimately familiar with the political drama playing out in D.C., not only because he was a newly minted San Francisco Art Institute MFA grad but because his father, Senator Pat Williams (D Montana), was leading the fight against Senator Jesse Helms’s crusade to eviscerate the National Endowment for the Arts.

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