A New Art Direction

March 21, 2021
Andy Hawgood

From 2010—2014 I ran my own Design Studio and Contemporary Art Gallery, The Popular Workshop. The New York Times published an article about our space in 2013.

A New Art Direction

The partners didn’t want to be just another service-based design studio, and the idea of a “visual laboratory” as a locus of creativity appealed to them. They see the Popular Workshop as an incubator for designers and artists to create work and push San Francisco’s contemporary art scene to new levels. While hip alternative spaces seem to pop up almost overnight in Brooklyn or downtown L.A., such ventures are rare in San Francisco. And, in the Tenderloin, a neighborhood known mainly for its S.R.O.’s and violent crime, they are even more so. Locating the Popular Workshop in the Tenderloin gives the partners more liberty to experiment than if the space were in a more gentrified or commercial neighborhood. Since opening, they have focused on showing international and emerging artists. “Self Help,” the current exhibition, features the work of Ben Barretto, a young Australian artist living in Los Angeles. Barretto’s work — handwoven tapestries made from used climbing rope, reconfigured nylon training pants, and oil paintings — explores the material qualities of each medium and lies between assemblage and action painting.

While Hooper and Hawgood are bringing new artists to the attention of San Franciscans, their design studio is also benefiting from collaborations with gallery artists. “It’s all about change through creativity,” Hooper says.

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