By: Max Otake
Tucked between the giant warehouses that make up San Francisco’s once primarily industrial neighborhood of Dogpatch, lies the Minnesota Street Project (MSP). Housed inside three warehouses are some of San Francisco’s finest galleries and artist studios. At the forefront of San Francisco’s next great arts district, the Minnesota Street Project is a great place for your next city excursion.
Launched in 2016 by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and collectors Deborah and Andy Rappaport, the Minnesota Street Project was created with the goal to provide an affordable and economically sustainable option for San Francisco’s art community. As the city becomes increasingly unaffordable, the MSP could not have come at a better time.
When you walk into the main Minnesota St. Project building (1275 Minnesota St.), you enter a gutted warehouse which serves as the central atrium of the building. A mix of sculptures and steel beams make up the ground level, while a skywalk and the exposed structural ceiling make up the second floor. The building incorporates a clean and modern design while still staying true to its warehouse roots. Each gallery then has its own room lining the first and second floors, totalling ten galleries. Also attached to 1275 is Alta, a restaurant by renowned chef Daniel Patterson.
In addition to the galleries, the MSP functions as a real community space. It holds large events such as the annual SF Book Fair, offers frequent artist talks, kids’ art classes, and more.
Having all the galleries coexisting under the same roof has created a strong dynamic for both the galleries themselves, and excitement for viewers who, by walking into each room, experience a range of artistic expressions and mediums. The artwork one can see in a trip ranges from a photography exhibit by Yale students to a room made up of a large scale scribbled paintings.
Although each gallery stands independently, their connection allows them a certain leverage they would not be able to achieve alone. For some galleries who had a prior location in SF’s Financial District, being a part of MSP has allowed them to continue flourishing. For others, such as new contemporary photography gallery, Casemore Kirkeby, opening their gallery in the MSP has given them the opportunity to quickly make a name for themselves. “Being a part of the many galleries here has been very helpful, especially in San Francisco,” said Petra Bibeau, an employee at Casemore Kirkeby. “There’s one place where people can all come. It’s kind of like how 49 Geary was a decade ago. But with the shift in real estate and commercial rents, the city has shifted the art culture a little more south.”
The MSP also builds an internal community of artists. By providing work studios at an affordable price, many local artists have a place to go. It’s not uncommon for the artist residents to present their work in a MSP gallery, as well.
The Minnesota Street Project is making a huge impact on its rapidly-changing neighborhood. In the past ten years Dogpatch has transformed from a gritty industrial area to an emerging center for culture and arts. One of the owners (who wished to stay anonymous) of Piccino’s, a prominent Dogpatch restaurant and coffee bar just a few blocks from the MSP, broke down her journey to Dogpatch eleven years ago: “We knew that it was going to be up and coming. Seeing how the city was growing, we knew that this was the last frontier.”
So while the MSP may not have been the first place to put Dogpatch on the map, they have contributed greatly to the surrounding community by introducing more arts and diversity. The owner of Piccino’s credited the MSP for this addition, explaining that “A lot of people that are moving in are more transient. We have a mix of people now who are from different classes, and different interests.”
As is true with nearly all neighborhoods that go through a spark of change, not everyone is happy. Even though Dogpatch has historically been an industrial part of the city, there is still an residential population from a decade ago that is less excited about the changes occurring in their neighborhood. From the perspective of Danielle Steuernagel, a local San Franciscan, “Everyone is so posh. I like it a little more gritty.” While it may not be directly related to the MSP and their effort to build the next best arts neighborhood — after all, the project is in many ways a response to gentrification — the reality is that Dogpatch is becoming gentrified, along with many other parts of San Francisco.
By giving galleries and artists the opportunity to flourish without the fear of rising rents that hovers over the heads of most city residents, the Minnesota Street Project is building a community that is only getting started.
To get to the Minnesota Street Project, take Caltrain to 22nd Street. It’s then a five minute walk to 1275 Minnesota Street.