SFWA Past and Present
San Francisco Women Artists (SFWA), a historic nonprofit arts organization, believes the creative and transformative power of artists inspires us, provides needed insight, and connects the human family. Committed to a sustained effort to foster positive social change through art, SFWA has throughout its history been at the forefront, challenging both cultural and social hierarchies to effect positive change. SFWA invites and welcomes all Bay Area artists as it actively promotes equity in the arts for all people.
The SFWA Gallery is in a newly remodeled building that is fully ADA compliant and located in a vibrant neighborhood setting, the Inner Sunset, near a main Golden Gate Park entrance. SFWA builds community through art, providing San Francisco a singular opportunity to support its artists while underscoring its historic commitment to the arts and to artistic expression.
A presence in the San Francisco arts community for over a century, the continuing mission of San Francisco Women Artists is to support, empower, and expand representation of women in the arts and to encourage a diversity of aspiring artists at all stages of their careers.
The community we serve – Bay Area women artists – is a diverse blend of talents and backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities. Committed to a core belief in the transformative power of art, SFWA showcases emerging and established Bay Area artists and artisans, while building a community of women artists who support and mentor one another. SFWA provides juried exhibitions and events in a gallery setting that foster a shared, cultural relationship between our artists and the public.
Our equitable practices are reflected in our commitment to understand, communicate and effectively interact with people across cultures and communities, fostering a positive relationship with artists, inspiring a sense of belonging, building community, providing affirmation and support of artistic endeavors. We are dedicated to remaining a beacon of light and an anchor of stability for artists for years to come.
Today, more than ever, we are in need of the unique power of art to recreate unifying bonds among all people by imagining, reflecting, and expanding the shared human experience. SFWA hosts monthly themed juried exhibits and regional art competitions, provides space rentals, mentors student interns, features hand-crafted jewelry, ceramics, and sculpture. We are committed to ensure the continuation of our living legacy as we support women artists and provide a welcoming gallery space in which the wider community may experience the vivifying and humanizing influence of art created by women.
We can measure the success of SFWA in-house and outreach programs by our increase in growth and diversity of our membership, and outreach to the Bay Area community. Artists ranging in age from 18 to 96 are supported by SFWA, providing them with a caring community and a beautiful venue where their art may be exhibited. Our success is seen in the positive results of our efforts in the development of new community partnerships and by our expanded visibility and presence in San Francisco and the Bay Area.
Student Intern Program– SFWA partners withthe Mayor’s Youth Education & Employment Program (MYEEP) to provide job readiness training, work experience and personal growth opportunities for San Francisco youth. Training in-house for up to 5 hours per week, students learn through hands-on experience gallery dynamics: small business operations, marketing and sales, art fashion and styles, even curating an exhibition of student artworks, carrying out the installation and promotion of the show, and planning the reception where student artists are given an opportunity to discuss their work.
Artist Talks and Demonstrations– Throughout the year, SFWA engages the community by providing the venue for educational presentations on significant topics. Our SFWA artists conduct “artist-in-action” demonstrations that engages and educates the community about a variety of artistic techniques in painting, sculpture and photography, including encaustic art, glass art, and jewelry making.
Professional Development Workshops– Open to the public, SFWA offers educational workshops throughout the year.
Today and tomorrow, San Francisco Women Artists will continue to stand in solidarity with those demanding an end to the racial injustice and systemic racism that is an original sin of our nation’s long history. We still suffer from the moral poison of white supremacy and its consequent patriarchy. To truly advance the embrace and realization of racial diversity, access, inclusion, and access, SFWA believes that Art and Artists must continue to be a vibrant path expressing that embrace, being that realization.
Resolving deeply ingrained patterns and structures of inequality will take sustained attention and dedication, and to this end, SFWA invites and welcomes Bay Area artists of all genders and racial identities.
SFWA, founded as the “Sketch Club” in 1887, began as an independent group of women artists who met to share and critique one another’s work, and eventually evolved into the organization we know today. Having previously maintained galleries in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley and Presidio Heights, SFWA relocated in 2015 to San Francisco’s vibrant Inner Sunset community, where we are becoming an anchor in its evolving arts community. SFWA is proud of its heritage and its many former members, including prominent artists Ruth Asawa, Dorr Bothwell, Imogen Cunningham, Eleanor Dickenson, Claire Falkenstein, Emmy Lou Packard, Dorothy Winslade, and Ruth Bernhard.
San Francisco Women Artists receives support from foundations, sponsors, individuals, and California Arts Council, California Relief Grant, SF Grants for the Arts, Neighborhood Arts Collaborative and the Voluntary Arts Contribution Fund.
In 2014, the internationally acclaimed graphic design team, Studio Hinrichs, selected SF Women Artists to create a rebranding – pro bono. Our symbol represents multiple artists joined in alliance. Within the modern symbol, three triangles form a “W” and an “A” shape and can be expressed in three dimensions.
In grateful memory of Virginia Dorn, 1916 – 2011, a guiding light and inspiration for SFWA
Gratitude to our SFWA member and gifted artist, Catherine Merrill, for her generous philanthropic support of our historic arts organization.
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