The Garden of Eden
5 January 2024

The exhibition has had many iterations in the last few months. At the moment we have works by Lucia Aguilar, Billy Easter, Alonso Leon-Velarde, Austin Leong, Clara Li, Bob. Miron, Mario Miron, Aki Neumann, Asia Ngoc, Tyler Garces Ormsby, Shannon Rogers, Leonel Salguero and Jasmine Zhang.

Looking at what has happened in the gallery since its opening in September has created an aperture, or a telescope, through which I think I see something. A mirage? Possibly. But the time I have spent with these artists has been too real. We are dreaming, yes, together.

I did not know what this exhibition would look like. The artworks seemed to just come. More so than the artworks, the artists. Like fishing; cast a line and wait. A bite, a nibble. Rejection?… unnoticed? What the gallery holds now are gifts, offerings maybe. We have a dance, a ceremony. We are sitting in a circle. It is getting warm with casting glances. Maybe a hand touches yours.

I am awake.

At a holiday party, before the calendar year turned, I was gifted a playful conversation about whether or not new stories are ever created. In a power struggle fueled by what story means to us, what we feel its purpose is for the world, and a supply of mulled wine from a crowded kitchen nearby, we agreed to disagree given we were speaking in generalities.

Speaking in generals – soil isn’t the same in all places, the ground wasn’t set. If we are speaking about a garden, living in genres, and imagining a space in which we can create our own conditions for making and being together, then let’s look at the ground we are building on–eschew generalities. Art is like green trees, says Bread and Puppet Theater’s Cheap Art Manifesto, a sentiment reflected in Aki ​​Nueman’s book of studies currently on view. No story can be created if the conditions for its making aren’t readily available and attended to – and those contexts, those conditions, may change as our relationships to other beings, spaces, times of day, shift, connect, couple and decouple, all around and through us. Generalities aren’t inclusive and specifics are, let’s head for contradiction and lay the groundwork in the details. Let’s coat our community in adjectives so many can join – family, order, species, genus, class– genre is lacking in specificity but a garden is abundant with it. 

I’m compelled to reflect every January. This reflection, reading more like a manifesto, shows me that I’ve learned something about being open to the specifics of others since being on the ground here in San Francisco. Like the nature of this space and curatorial project, the individuals themselves lead the work to the group, coming from both intent and happenstance, their generalities are selected, but their specificities are what’s on view. Parallel to greater histories of what is now the Bay Area, where many who found themselves here were lost to it first, a question of context, and belonging to that context, led a path before intent did. The exhibition continues to be cohesive; it’s a sprout of proof that indeed new stories may be created, if you collage them, release ownership, and allow their unpredicted paths to take root.

– Emily