I had heard about Creativity Explored from a friend who has a long time association with the organization, doing publicity work for them and then becoming a board member. It looked like a fascinating place, and when she had her birthday party there it gave me the impetus to visit.
It occupies an unassuming storefront in the Mission District of San Francisco. Nice window displays, and you enter into a low-key gallery space. Basic, normal art gallery. Although I kind of hate to use that word, normal (what is normal, anyway?) but it sounds like that is what the organization is aiming for, or maybe a lack of the label would be a better way to put it. Identity as artist, rather than as (fill-in-the-blank) artist, defined by disability.
Creativity Explored exists to provide people with developmental disabilities the opportunity to express themselves through the creation of art. Additionally, we provide studio artists the opportunity to earn income from the sale of their artwork and to pursue a livelihood as a visual artist to the fullest extent possible.
A key focus of Creativity Explored’s services is to support those individuals with developmental disabilities who wish to become self-employed artists in creating and operating fully viable and profitable businesses.
But then we got to go back into the studio, which is a totally overwhelming splendid riot of colors and textures and supplies and amazing works. A veritable creative explosion. Paintings, drawings, textile pieces and assemblages. They also have a press and kiln, so there are prints and ceramic pieces as well.
The space has this really amazing energy, and there’s just so much to look at. You could spend days looking at everything. And much of the work is really reasonably priced. I didn’t go home empty-handed. It’s always great to be able to support artists and, in this case, a wonderful organization as well.
Someone bought a large sculptural piece, and the staff was asking if she would like a bag, they weren’t sure if they would have something that would fit it. She said she didn’t need one, in fact she wanted to show it off on BART on her way home!
The studio is also open to visit while the artists are working, which I hope to do one of these days.
As a word lover, I couldn’t resist this dictionary, Imaginationally, by Michael Bernard Loggins. It’s published by Manic D. Press (how great of a name is that?!) Michael is also the author of Fears of Your Life, which was featured on NPR’s This American Life.