Last week, thousands of San Franciscans waited in an hours-long line that snaked around multiple blocks to be the among the first to check out the Minnesota Street Project. This long-anticipated arts epicenter opened its doors on March 18, and hosted its very first family-friendly community day on Sunday, March 20, proving itself to be the all-ages contemporary art hub that the city has been waiting for.

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10 Galleries, One Location
As the art scene shifts south to Mission, Potrero and Dogpatch neighborhoods (newly dubbed the DoReMi Arts District), the Minnesota Street Project is fast becoming the anchor. It’s comprised of 3 buildings along Minnesota Street, 1275 Minnesota being the main exhibition space (The others will house artist studios and other arts organizations). The gorgeously renovated 35,000-square-foot, 2-story warehouse is now home to 10 permanent galleries, and a 3 rotating ones. it will be free and open to public every day, from 10 am–5 pm. It’s an ingenious new model for the SF arts scene—one made possible by a pair of very generous patrons: Andy and Deborah Rappaport made their fortune investing in tech, and decided to then invest that into the arts, buying up a trio of buildings and turning them into exceptional spaces for the arts, then offering them at rents not seen here in decades.

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Photo: Mariko Reed, courtesy of The Minnesota St. Project

 

Keeping Art Alive
Galleries on the verge of closing due to rising rents or struggling to survive in difficult locations have flocked to 1275 Minnesota, where they got a gorgeous new space, shared amenities and a guarantee of affordable rent for as long as 20 years. The gallery line-up is an impressive mix of big names and scrappy, experimental upstarts, resulting in an atmosphere that is inspiring, electric and never stodgy. And there is a youthful presence as well: a nonprofit educational component, the San Francisco Arts Education Project (SFArtsEd), has classroom studios there.

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Fun for Families
The community-building agenda includes reaching art lovers of all ages, which was exemplified by the first Community Day, held last Sunday, March 20. The atrium was set up with crafts tables manned by working artists who had created kid-friendly projects. The choir from San Francisco Arts Education Project, made up of children ranging in age from 5-12, took to the bleacher stairs to perform for the crowd. One of the most impressive aspects? Everyone from the security guards to the gallery proprietors were patient, friendly and welcoming as they watched kids, from babies to tots to teens, take over the space, mingling with expensive and often delicate works. The organization hopes to make these community events a monthly occurrence.

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So Much to Explore
While the beautiful building and the endless options for art could keep families busy all day, there is also plenty more to see in the neighborhood. On Community Day, gallery staffers were handing out tickets to enjoy free grub from food trucks parked just around the corner. A petit rock garden and seating area was the perfect picnic spot for families to dig into fired chicken and waffles and Indian soul food. Directly across the street from 1275 Minnesota is a fairly new and very spacious location of Philz Coffee. Besides coffee, tasty bites (and more clean bathrooms) there are comfy sofas and a selection of games for customers to play. For even more eats and treats in Dogpatch, check out our neighborhood guide.

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1275 Minnesota St.
San Francisco, Ca
Online: minnesotastreetproject.com

Have you been to 1275 Minnesota Street? Tell us about your visit in the comments below! 

–Erin Feher