By Emma Silvers
By Gary Moskowitz
By Alee Karim
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
By Derek Opperman
By Emma Silvers
By Alee Karim
Uh, Actually, It's More Like an Art Collapse
Ah, spring in San Francisco, and our thoughts turn to all of those typical San Francisco-type things that come with the bluster of a new season: sunshine, evenings without wind chill factors, and, of course, evictions. OK, so evictions are a year-round kind of thing here, and their effect on local musicians is nothing new; we get word routinely about folks who've simply up and left, donating their talents to Portland or, worse, Los Angeles. But the effect of a hyperactive real estate market on musicians in the city just got very obvious at Potrero Hill's Art Explosion. Late last month, the approximately 40 bands and 30 artists who make use of the rehearsal spaces and studios at 17th and Potrero started to receive notices from the building's owner that they have to pack up and move out by the end of April.
On the music end, Art Explosion is home to a number of established local acts, including Beulah, Deerhoof, and Shitty Shitty Band Band, who rent the spaces on the ground floor. "It really screws us financially," says Jeff Ray, singer and guitarist in local kitchen-sink experimentalists Zmrzlina. "We just spent $5,000 on a new CD, and we need to gig to help pay for it. ... Who knows what the next space could be. We're right in the middle of gigs, and we can't schedule any shows in May with this happening."
Same goes for the artists, who work on the building's second floor. "I'm not going to have a place to paint, and I have to crank out 11 paintings [before the end of the month]," says artist Caroline Stechschulty. "It's terrible."
Geoffrey Wolfe, co-owner of Art Explosion, says that he is constricted legally from talking much about the situation, but notes that he was told by the owner of the property last month to remove the structures (i.e., the rehearsal rooms and studios) within the building. He says he is working to preserve the spaces. "It's all part of a big legal game, and we're trying to figure out what to do," says Wolfe. "They're trying to evict us from the premises, and we're trying to stay there."
All three parties in this situation -- the building owner, Art Explosion's owners, and Art Explosion's clients -- have now retained separate legal counsel. Peter Vestal, who is representing 13 of the artists using the Art Explosion spaces, says that to the best of his understanding, the decision to evict Art Explosion and its clients stems from Spencer's argument that renovations to the property were made without his prior consent and now create a safety hazard. Vestal says the city inspected the building in mid-March, and while he does not know what conclusions were made as a result of the inspection, Wolfe and his partner were served last week with a three-day notice to quit, which Vestal explains means "Get out of here -- if you don't leave, we're gonna sue you."
The reasons for the tumult at Art Explosion are anybody's guess, but everybody's guessing the same thing, assuming that the 55,000-square-foot building will most likely be converted into office space for one or more dot-com companies.
Cartoons From Another Planet
Ever since the Invisibl Skratch Piklz's DJ QBert released his landmark concept album Wave Twisters: Episode 7 Million, Sonic Wars Within the Protons late in 1998, work had been under way to produce an animated feature to go along with the entire record -- imagine Yellow Submarine on acid, and yes, we're well aware of the inherent redundancy of that statement. According to a recently released "Invisibl Skratch Piklz Corporate Profile" (!), the finished movie will premiere July 1 at Skratchathon 2000, the first-ever scratch DJ summit, which will be held in San Francisco. Also, Invisibl Skratch Piklz Inc. (!) just inked a deal with the music-oriented Web site iCAST, where the site will host all the Piklz's online endeavors. Which right now includes two clips from the upcoming Wave Twistersmovie, "Sneak Attack" and "Innerspace Dental Commander."
Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to Mark.Athitakis@sfweekly.com, or mail them to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly.