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Deirdre Weinberg: Living Memory in the TL

The Tenderloin Museum is excited to welcome visual artist Deirdre Weinberg into its gallery space for ArtSpanSF Open Studios 2018. The artist has lived and worked in San Francisco for over 25 years; her dynamic artistic practice ranges from quickly drawn mini portraits to large scale public murals but is grounded in a sensitivity to her environment and immediate community. “I have always recorded my reactions to the world around me, even if it's not beautiful,” Weinberg says in her artist statement, “though I do seek to show beauty where it might be overlooked.” This perspective makes Weinberg an ideal artist-in-residence at the Tenderloin Museum, one who can create at the intersection of the neighborhood’s long, storied history and its persisting themes of transition, perseverance, and compassion.

Weinberg’s work will be familiar to many in the neighborhood. In 2017, she was contracted by Tenderloin Housing Clinic (THC) to hand paint several garbage cans. This street beautification project made her a temporary fixture on the TL’s sidewalks, bringing her, quite literally, into direct contact with one of the most “overlooked” features of the cityscape. While not glamorous canvases, the “lowly trash cans got so much support from the community” reflected Weinberg, adding that since completion they’ve “never even been tagged!” One particularly impressed passerby approached Weinberg while painting and asked if he could have a portrait made--the artist acquiesced, rapidly sketching her ad-hoc model on a piece of cardboard, the only material at hand, and after handing it over, never saw her subject again. This fleeting act of artmaking struck Weinberg as indicative of the Tenderloin street scene, one that attempts commemoration in the face of impermanence, and planted the seeds for her Living Memory in the TL project at the Tenderloin Museum.

Weinberg’s SF Open Studios project is an ambitious hybrid of portraiture and cartography, living memory and historic record. The artist will assemble a street map of the Tenderloin comprised of past and future artworks that represent people and places of the neighborhood. An homage to both the Tenderloin’s distinctive built environment and the luminous neighborhood map on the Tenderloin Museum’s ceiling, the “infrastructure” of this Tenderloin art-map will be formed by a sprawling collection of preexisting works: 80 6”x6” portraits on particle board will outline the streets, while larger works on cardboard will fill in the blocks. These inexpensive, expendable materials, so frequently used to ship or store some other object then thrown away, are repurposed and elevated. Fast acting acrylic and graffiti-marker imbue an immediacy and accessibility to the visual style and allow the artist to make work swiftly and prolifically.

In an effort to make this a living display, as well as invite people into her practice, Weinberg will add to her map throughout Living Memory in the TL’s run, making portraits of visitors at the Opening Reception (October 4th) as well as the SF Open Studios weekend (October 13-14). In this way, this evolving exhibition of her work will react and respond to both its subjects and audience. Those who sit for a portrait will be able to pick them up at the Closing Reception on November 29th. In addition, Chlo & Co Dance will be producing a new work in response to Weinberg’s show and the theme of preservation for their biannual community-oriented event, Drove V, on November 2nd and 3rd. Details will unfold as the dancers and artist’s collaboration develops over the course of the exhibition.

Come be a part of this dynamic, interactive show! There will be many opportunities to view this map mural as it grows and expands, a living testament to the Tenderloin past and present.

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