SFAC Galleries Examines What it Means to be a Sanctuary City

Announcing Sanctuary City: With Liberty and Justice for Some, on view for a limited time at the SFAC Main Gallery

White wall with individual portraits hanging in the formation of a flag.

SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) Galleries announces the first installment of Sanctuary City, a year-long exhibition and public program series that delves into topics related to San Francisco’s immigration policies, immigrant and refugee populations and the history of our Sanctuary City status.  

“We will not waver in our commitment to protecting the rights of all our residents nor will we compromise the safety of our communities,” says Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “San Francisco’s sanctuary city status makes our city safer, healthier, and stronger. I applaud the San Francisco Arts Commission for engaging artists in this important dialogue and for offering the public new avenues to explore this issue. This exhibition underscores our city’s values and our commitment to protecting and celebrating our diversity.”

For this inaugural Sanctuary City presentation, the SFAC Galleries is pleased to partner with Walter Maciel Gallery in Los Angeles to bring their critically acclaimed exhibition With Liberty and Justice for Some. Co-curated by Bay Area artist Monica Lundy, this exhibition features over 125 portraits of immigrants to the United States by 100 artists from Los Angles and the Bay Area. Conceived in response to the presidential election in November, the show is a statement in response to the current administration's new executive order that blocks citizens from six Muslim-majority countries (Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen) from getting visas for 90 days, and reinstates a temporary blanket ban refusing admission to all refugees for 120 days.  

“The power of With Liberty and Justice for Some is that it reminds us of the complex history of United States imigration and that our diversity is what has made us a great nation,” says Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny. “I think visitors to the exhibition and future public programs will be moved by the stories they encounter.”

Notable subjects portrayed in the exhibition include actor Bela Lugosi, entertainer Grace Jones, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Jamaican political leader Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr., Architect I. M. Pei, Province of Pennsylvania founder William Penn and several established artists such as Hung Liu, David Hockney, Marcel Duchamp, Enrique Chagoya, Wanxin Zhang, and Julie Mehretu.

SFAC Galleries Director Meg Shiffler is “thrilled that San Francisco residents and visitors will be able to see this extraordinary exhibition. Not only are many of the artists in the show from the Bay Area, but it’s also incredibly relevant and timely for San Francisco’s municipal gallery to host an exhibition like this given Mayor Lee’s firm stance on retaining San Francisco’s Sanctuary City status. This exhibition reinforces the City’s firm solidarity with our immigrant and refugee residents.”

Curator and artist Monica Lundy invited artists from across the country to make 8 x 8-inch portraits of individuals who came to the United States as immigrants including historic subjects, personal friends, relatives, strangers, and self-portraits. Lundy says, “Several portraits depict individuals that represent multiple politically vulnerable communities, such as African Americans, LGBTQ persons, Mexicans, Muslims, Jews, refugees and women, thus representing our communities here in the Bay Area being threatened by the Trump administration.”

Evelynn Aponte, Libby Black, Gary Brewer, Nyame Brown, Cece Carpio, Joey Castor, Chenhun Chen, Modesto Covarrubias, Bibi Davidson, Leonard  De Greco, Yvette Deas, Colin Doherty, David Estrada, Rodney Ewing, Susan Feldman, Chris Finley,  Jon Fischer,  Dwora Fried, Dorothy Goode, Diane Andrews Hall, Adrienne Heloise, Sarah Hirneisen, Marlene  Iyemura, Kevin Jones, Amy  Kaps, Dave Kim, Michael Koehle, Danielle Lawrence, Carrie Lederer, Hung Liu, Sandra Low, Kija Lucas, Aline Mare, Kara Maria, Randi Matushevitz, Rikki Niehaus, Damian Obrien, Cynthia Ona Innis,  Maria Pineres, Yulia  Pinkusevich, Amy Pleasant, Mel Prest, Linda Price, Calida Rawles, Kate Rhoades, Karrie Ross, Maja Ruznic, Sonja Schenk, Annie Seaton, Steve Seleska, Christine Shields, Cindy Shih, Sheli Silverio, Jessica Snow, William Swanson, Camilla Taylor, Jessie Thatcher, Lava Thomas, Linda Vallejo, Dana Weiser, Diane Williams, Sandra Yagi, Kelvin Ming Young, Stella Zhang, Wanxin Zhang among others.

Exhibition Dates: March 25-April 8, 2017
Artist’s Reception: Saturday, March 25, 6 – 9pm (free and open to the public)
Additional public programs to be announced.

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