Gallery Row Grows on Grant Avenue

Article excerpt

Gallery row grows on Grant Avenue

It's no secret that many excellent art galleries are scattered throughout San Francisco. Yet what might come as a surprise is the number of galleries now clustered conveniently along lower Grant Avenue.

The soft office-rental market has opened up premium space for galleries along this stretch between Market Street and the Chinatown gate, luring some from the South of Market area. Five years ago, only a dozen or so galleries had addresses along these blocks; now there are 28, with more expected.

This coalescence into a bona fide gallery row means gallerygoers will spend less time looking for a place to park and more time enjoying the art--if they know where to look. Those intent on shopping could easily overlook most of these galleries; only two are located at street level. Many are marked only by a discreet plaque or as an entry in a foyer's directory. But despite their shrinking violet act, all are open to passers-by.

Strolling from gallery to gallery, you'll see a wide array of first-rate art. Since San Francisco lacks a museum devoted exclusively to contemporary art, these galleries provide an easy way to see work on the cutting edge.

Admittedly, entering an unfamiliar gallery surrounded by art that might cost as much as your car can be intimidating. But most owners encourage visits from non-collectors. Even if you don't plan to buy, feel free to ask for a biography of a featured artist or a price list that gives titles of displayed works and the materials used. Many galleries also have a storeroom off the main exhibition space where you'll find art for upcoming shows, as well as unsold works from past shows.

From 11 to 5 on Saturday, February 13, Union Square-area members of the San Francisco Art Dealers Association will present ARTwalk, a district-wide open house. It's a good opportunity to get acquainted with the participating galleries in a relaxed atmosphere. …