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Allison Smith (Oakland) collaborating with Southern Exposure (San Francisco)

Award: $40,000 Visual Arts grant awarded in 2010

Presented: May 20-July 2, 2011; book forthcoming in 2013

Allison Smith recruited some 70 artists to collaborate with her and with Southern Exposure to create The Cries of San Francisco, a temporary public art project, series of events, exhibition, and publication that took as its inspiration early San Francisco street merchants who would hawk their wares with melodic songs and calls. Participating artists created peddler identities and cries, as well as items to hawk. The key public presentation, “Market Day,” took place over the course of one June day near Mint Plaza in San Francisco. Southern Exposure served as the home base where artists gathered, worked, and presented additional performances and an exhibition.

Allison Smith’s diverse artistic practice investigates the cultural phenomenon of historical reenactment and the role of craft in the construction of national identity. The Cries of San Francisco was typical of her artmaking in that it created a platform for others to participate.

Southern Exposure is a nonprofit, visual arts organization dedicated to presenting diverse, innovative, contemporary art, arts education, and related programs and events in an accessible environment. It offers artists the opportunity to experiment, exposes them to new audiences, and engages them in meaningful conversation with other artists and the public.