Program Type: 
July 07, 2012 - October 14, 2012
Upstairs Galleries


Occupy Bay Area
Jul 7-Oct 14
Upstairs Galleries
$10 Regular/ $8 students, senior, discount
FREE for YBCA Members & YBCA:You
FREE first Tuesday of each month • noon – 8 pm

Since its inception in September 2011, the Occupy Movement has generated both praise and condemnation. A direct response to the financial instability, subprime mortgage crisis and the decline of trust in the government’s ability to effectively address the problems in the labor market, it continues to resonate in the American consciousness. In response to the significant output of art and documentation produced in support of the Occupy Movement in Oakland and San Francisco, YBCA has put together an exhibition of works that have proven to be particularly effective in supporting the goals and aspirations of the Movement. Impressively, various political poster artists devoted their talents to messaging the politics and culture of the movement by creating iconic images — designs that were a call to action, or posters announcing an upcoming event. In many ways these works, by twenty-five Bay Area artists, carry forward the region’s long tradition as a leader in political struggles, from the Free Speech Movement of the 1960s, to struggles by communities of color in the 1970s, to AIDS activism in the 1980s. The exhibition also includes a selection of photojournalistic and documentary photography and video that serve as a record of the events around the Occupy Movement.

Additionally, to connect to earlier movements and provide a historical context for the project, the exhibition includes posters and photographs from other political struggles, including the Black Panther Party, I-Hotel in Manilatown (1968–77); the ARC/AIDS Vigil at City Hall (1985–95); the Occupation of Alcatraz (1969–71); the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley (1964–65); and the San Francisco State University protests, to gain an Ethnic Studies program and Black Student Union demands (1968–69).While these earlier movements certainly differ in ways from Occupy, they all are the result of a deep desire for marginalized peoples to be represented and treated fairly.

This exhibition is not meant to represent a fully executed social history, but is a testament of the power of images to evoke the emotional expression of popular and wide-spread sentiments. By localizing our efforts, we also pay special tribute to the role that Bay Area artists have played in giving voice to the 99% and utilizing art as an effective vehicle for social change.

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  • Occupy Bay Area
    July 7, 2012 – October 14, 2012
  • REVOLT! RE-IMAGINE! OCCUPY! Representation in Politics & Art
    Sep 21, 2012 5:00pm – 7:00pm

    REVOLT! RE-IMAGINE! OCCUPY! Representation in Politics & Art
    Fri, Sep 21  •  6–8 pm

    To mark the closing of the Occupy Bay Area exhibition, this event will be both a panel discussion and forum, intended to ensure dialogue and audience participation, led by writer and art historian Robert Atkins.

    While the program is inspired by Occupy Bay Area, it also offers an opportunity to discuss larger issues that transcend this particular exhibition's scope. The most central will involve Occupy's relationship with art and communications media, and art's relationship to activist politics in an era of digital communications. For example, if Occupy represents a new political formation, do the representations and strategies it has generated embody similar innovation?

    The panel will bring together an expert, multi-generational group of presenters with diverse perspectives and varied activist experiences. Lincoln Cushing recently organized the exhibition All of Us or None: Social Justice Posters of the San Francisco Bay Area, at the Oakland Museum of California and authored its catalogue. Jeff Jones is an arts fundraiser who has helped shape San Francisco's multicultural arts funding policies for the past two decades. One of two panelists represented in Occupy Bay Area, graphic designer Jake Levitas is a member of the Occupy Design collective and is the research director at Gray Area Foundation for the Arts. Iranian-born artist Sanaz Mazinani, whose work draws connections to the Arab Spring uprisings, appropriates photographic images she finds online to create artworks (not posters) based on mosaics inspired by the Occupy movement. Occupy Bay Area curator Betti-Sue Hertz will be the panel's respondent.

    A unique online component via Facebook at will enable Facebook visitors to submit questions, which may be directed to specific panelists or to the audience prior to the date of the panel. Questions may be submitted through September 20.

    Robert Atkins »

    Lincoln Cushing »

    Betti-Sue Hertz »

    Jake Levitas »

    Sanaz Mazinani »

    Jeff Jones »

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Curator Statement

While the beginnings of the Occupy movement demanded that Wall Street become more responsive to the lives of those left out of its power structures, it didn’t take long for the message of the 99% to resonate and then expand into a call against hegemonic power across the globe. The Occupy Bay Area exhibition focuses on the actions, events, and activities that took place in Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco. It frames protest within a few key themes—encampment and collective living, the direct democracy of the General Assembly, and the refusal to draft a manifesto with specific demands. The exhibition brings together recent images in both graphic design and lens-based work that express the urgency of the Occupy movement with images from earlier protests in the Bay Area. It also includes additional works of contemporary art that resonate with the core themes. The Bay Area has a long history of voices protesting the inequities of democratic capitalism, and it has been a leader of progressive causes, especially in the area of rights—for free speech, for recognition of various cultural groups and the economically disenfranchised, as well as concern for the environment. Amongst the most compelling markers of this lineage are the posters and photographs that have become icons as well as evidence of the vibrancy of these leftist movements in their own time. There are many traces of these struggles in the visual articulation of the Occupy movement in the Bay Area. These materials call attention to the effectiveness of collective public address directed against institutions of power—especially government and corporations—in catalyzing progressive change. This exhibition is a visual dialogue about the effect of Occupy on local understandings of political action within a long and valiant history of protest and resistance.

—Betti-Sue Hertz, Director of Visual Arts
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Artist Bio

Robert Bechtle Artist profile
R. Black Artist website
D. Ross Cameron
Andy Scott Change
Ray Chavez
Li Chen
Sergio de la Torre Artist website
Julie Dermansky Artist website
Zerena Diaz Artist website
Cannon Dill
Dignidad Rebelde (Melanie Cervantes and Jesus Barraza) Artist website
Emory Douglas Artist website
Eric Drooker Artist websites:
Kota Ezawa Artist profile
Alexandra Fischer Artist website
Dave Garcia Artist profile
Rupert Garcia Artist profile
Shirin Ghaffary Artist website
Ronnie Goodman Artist profile
Ilka Hartmann Artist website
Brandon Hill
Brandon Jourdan Artist website
Jason Justice Artist website
Mike Koozmin Artist website
Suzanne Lacy Artist website
Stewart Long (Public Laboratory) Artist website
Steven Marcus
Sanaz Mazinani Artist website
Gabby Miller, Miriam Klein Stahl, and Matt Runkle Artist websites:
“Indian Joe” Morris
moyah Pravda Artist website
Nuclear Winter Art Artist website
Occupy Design
Laura A. Oda
Political Gridlock Artist website
Thomas K. Pendergast Artist website
Cristy C. Roads Artist website
Favianna Rodriguez Artist website
Rachael Romero Artist website
Be Scofield
Chris Shaw Artist website
Jenny Sherman Artist website
Colin Smith
Winston Smith
Chuck Sperry Artist website
Eric Stewart
Shelia Tully
Jane Tyska
Grégoire Vion Artist website
Xavier Viramontes Artist website
Megan Wilson Artist websites:
Artist website
Artist website
Ewen Wright Artist website
Levy Yun
Fred Zaw
unknown artists

YBCA's programs are made possible in part by:
Abundance Foundation
Koret Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts
Lam Research

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is grateful to the City of San Francisco for its ongoing support.

YBCA Exhibitions 12-13 is made possible in part by:
Mike Wilkins and Sheila Duignan, Meridee Moore and Kevin King and Members of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Free First Tuesdays
Underwritten by Directors Forum Members