Art In Response

The mandatory Stay in Place order issued by the City and County of San Francisco has been extended for another month. As of now, I am fortunate to be able to work from home, mainly cancelling programming/events, authors and artists. Sad. We are prepping to line up a virtual library events, but the plan  for adult programming is to move slow and deliberate, not my usual mode.

My prediction— all libraries will be in triage mode when we do open doors, and we don’t know what this is going to look like when we do. Our budgets will be slashed, our communities suffering and many many people needing jobs. Our staff still working Disaster  Service roles, and all of us recovering from the trauma COVID-19 has caused—the sick politics, death and massive economic inequalities we are witnessing on a daily basis is not something we should expect our staff to just be able to work though immediately.

Libraries, as always, will be on the front lines of community care giving.

What I find inspirational among this crisis, is there is a new resistance in the air. Civic Art, Artivism, Fuck the Police art works are being created at a records pace. Art takes on the role of change.

Some favorites-

SF Poster Syndicate

SF Poster Syndicate (SF) has been working since 2014, printing on demand, on the spot, wherever needed. Immediate focus is on the reported closure of SF Art Institute, homeless sweeps, hotels for our homeless community and the release of our incarcerated. Instagram

There has been a bigger push to release our

Kate Deciccio

incarcerated community. SFPL library has a department devoted to serving incarcerated patrons, this topic is very close to  home and work for a lot of us in pubic library service. Artist and educator Kate Deciccio (Oakland/DC) who makes richly hued graphics, states on her site “I think making art on behalf of deconstructing the prison industrial complex is one of the best things we can do to heal our communities.”  Instagram

Kaytea Petro of Gnome Island Studio (SF) illustrator, sculptor turned wheatepaster is making large size COVID-19 themed works and pasting them all over town. Check the ones out at Green Arcade Bookstore and her PSA’s for wearing a mask properly.

Kaytea Petro, image bySteve Rhodes

This May Day there was a call for a #GeneralStrike across the country in solidarity with essential workers and a boycott of Amazon, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Target and more. Some great graphics were produced.

Broobs (SF) is a collage political poster designer creating beautifully simple  colorful works with clear calls to action. Instagram

Artist printmaker, Jesús Barraza (Oakland), has been a leader in print making activist/political work for a long time, has created many prints during COVID-19, including one for the May Day #GeneralStrike and for #FreeThemAll.  Instagram

Jesus barraza
Jesús Barraza

Shout out to Just Seeds (Pittsburgh PA), a cooperative of 29 artists (including Jesús Barraza) printmakers committed to social, environmental and political engagement. Just Seeds features some of the best civic artists working today, the artists often collaborate and prints are available to purchase.

I came across Angela Faz‘s (Dallas) work on The Center for Cultural Power‘s site (Oakland), who are doing cultural and social justice through art.  Angela Faz created a linocut with the line” Collective Care is the Future”, a powerful graphic with a clear message of compassion and unity. This piece was featured in Amplifier’s Global Open Call for Art.

Global Open Call for Art 


In response to COVID-19, Amplifier is launching an emergency campaign with top art curators and public-health advisors from around the world, looking for symbols to promote mental health, well-being, and social change work during these stressful times.

There is so many amazing works here- I love it, it it inspires, it makes me want to revolt and resist, and to make more art.





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