Once the embodiment of a lofty vision to merge entertainment and retail into a sleek urban shopping concept, the primary draws of Yerba Buena’s Metreon mall include an AMC movie theater, a forlorn-looking food court and a Target that was once rumored to be dead and has recently been racked by incessant shoplifting.
But where some see a beleaguered Downtown shopping center, the optimists behind nonprofit Filipino arts accelerator Balay Kreative see an opportunity to showcase local creativity in the mall’s otherwise vacant storefronts.
Balay Kreative’s temporary art gallery and pop-up shop opens Saturday to coincide with the Be Free Festival, a SoMa-based celebration of Philippines Independence Day. Through June 24, the artwork of seven Balay Kreative artists will bring a dose of whimsy to the storefront once occupied by a Chronicle Books shop. With only 17 out of 25 stores active, according to the official websites of the shopping center and its parent company, about a third of the Metreon is currently vacant.
“It was completely empty, black bare walls, said Balay Kreative’s program manager Nicole Salaver. “And now [...] it’s vibrant.”
From an interactive puppet art installation pillow to prints, paintings and textiles, visitors to the pop-up can appreciate the work of local artists and have the option to take home a unique piece of Bay Area-made art. The pop-up’s artists, who’ll be on hand Saturday, will be selling everything from pins to paintings to T-shirts throughout the duration of the pop-up.
The mission of the pilot pop-up is not only to uplift local artists but also to showcase how an urban retail space could be reimagined by creatives and reverse the proverbial doom loop, noted Desi Danganan, executive director of the art nonprofit Kultivate Labs, which launched Balay Kreative.
“Artists have [the] superpower of imagination. What some people see as blight, what artists see is the opportunity of a blank canvas,” Danganan said. “We want our artists and creatives to really be the vanguard, showing our community that it is possible to turn this doom loop around.”
🗓 June 10-24
🕔 Various times
📍165 Fourth St. at the Metreon, SF
Christina Campodonico can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org