Openings, closure…and more openings

The last month of my life has been marked by some pretty significant events–moments of closure paired with new openings and beginnings. First of all, The Multi-Families Project exhibit opened at The Flight Deck. I am so proud of this project and the installation piece that resulted. And I loved seeing the multi-generational, multiracial mix of people in the gallery. Almost all of the participating families attended, and it was thrilling to witness them and their friends and family engage with the installation. I am incredibly grateful to everyone who took part in this project.

The exhibit was also bittersweet for me, because it was my creative swan song to the Bay Area. More than two decades ago, I moved to San Francisco fresh out of art school and dove into the video and performance art scene; later, I began teaching and facilitating community-based theater projects. I’m proud that I was part of a group that brought the late Augusto Boal to San Francisco to headline a conference on theater and social change, and that I co-founded OutLook Theater Project and produced a full-length play with an intergenerational LBGTQIA cast. I’m grateful for the fellow visual artists who encouraged me to reconnect with that side of myself.

I’ve seen the Bay Area arts community go through many phases and transitions, watched the communities and cliques form, reform, and transform. And although many people say that the Bay Area is known for being a transitory place, marked by constant change, the latest economic shifts driven by the tech-fueled bubble felt different to me. The region is losing, and will continue to lose, so many of the people and organizations that have made it such a wonderful, crazy, and unique place to be, a place where every possible subculture existed.

For me, as it has been for many of my fellow artists and nonprofit workers, the squeeze just got too tight. A month ago, our family left Berkeley to move to Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, a community just outside of Philadelphia. Today I kicked off my creative career here with an orientation for Mural Arts’ incredible Arts & Artists Outdoors program. Over the next year, I will work with youth at a recreation center in West Philadelphia to develop and create an installation reflecting on the environment. I feel incredibly lucky to have this opportunity and am looking forward to getting to know the arts community here. But California is in me; I spent my entire adult life there and I will carry it wherever I go.

Stay tuned for the next phase of Rebecca Schultz Projects–Philly edition!