The Artists' Space

When we talk about the Mission changing—what does this really mean? When a group of people are moved out of a neighborhood what does it mean? It means nothing if we don’t understand the details of what is being lost.  

There are many communities that make up the Mission—the goal of this blog is to give an intimate picture of one specific community—a taste of what is lost—when we say— “the artists have left the Mission!” 

Studio 17 is an artist community that inhabits the fourth floor of 2111 Mission street—a beautiful old brick building on the corner of Mission & 17th street above Thrift Town and The Fabric Store—across from the One Dollar Store. 

At the end of June the lease for the artists in STUDIO 17 is up—and we will no longer be part of the Mission. In the next two months—through careful observation—I want to explain what that loss will mean to the artists themselves and the community and to San Francisco as a city. 

Let’s start with why a studio is such an important space for an artist:

When I select an artist space—I have specific requirements—high ceilings and either a south facing or west facing window—the window needs to be large to allow enormous amounts of light in—most of the photography I do depends on natural light—but light is not the only criteria.

Material—artists work with material—are sensitive to the details of what specific materials offer—oil paint is pigment mixed with oil—acrylic paint is pigment mixed with plastic—a brick wall—a wooden ceiling or a cement ceiling are qualities of texture—light is a quality—and the artist does not merely place those qualities in their work—they surround themselves with texture—it is an integral part of the work and the thinking— 

a neighborhood is an entire fabric—from the pigeons on ledges—to the sound of the bus below—artists spend hours looking at material—hours alone contemplating how a specific material will manifest an idea—

that time of contemplation is isolated—it is in the smallest details of interaction that can push an idea—to walk out of the studio door—bump into someone in the hallway—to borrow a saw—a wire cutter—to have someone who knows how to plane a piece of wood—an artist community is a network of skills and material—every artist will have specific reasons for why his or her space looks the way it does—

I will be going into these spaces to show what that texture is for each individual—and how they put their space together—how they work and how the space is their work.

Alex Nichols' Website 

Alex Nichols in the studio