San Francisco Art Institute

San Francisco Art Institute

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The San Francisco Art Institute is one of the country’s oldest schools of higher education in contemporary art.The institute first existed in 1871 as the San Francisco Art Association, which established the California School of Design in 1873. Although the Great Earthquake destroyed the mansion and the school in 1906, a new building was erected on the site a year later, and the school was renamed the San Francisco Institute of Art.In 1916 the institute was renamed the California School of Fine Arts. In 1926 the school moved to its current location at 800 Chestnut Street, into a new building designed by Bakewell and Brown, architects of City Hall, Coit Tower, and other San Francisco landmarks.In 1961, the school was renamed the San Francisco Art Institute. In 1969, a new building designed by Paffard Keatinge Clay added studio space, a large theater/lecture hall, outdoor amphitheater, and cafe to the Spanish-style villa and cloisters built in the 1920s.In 2004, the curriculum was reorganized under five interdisciplinary centers to acknowledge the increasing role of multiple disciplines and technologies in artists' work: Contemporary Practice, Media Culture, Public Practice; Word, Text, and Image; and Art and Science. The school is expanding its humanities programs and is expecting to offer degrees beyond the bachelor and master of fine arts.In 2004, Chris Bratton joined the Art Institute as its president. Bratton had been Dean of Undergraduate Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.At 130 years, the San Francisco Art Institute is one of the most prestigious colleges of art in the United States. Among its alumni and faculty are many of the country's leading artists. Committed to fine-arts education, the institute provides both undergraduate and graduate degree programs accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.Complementing the institute's curriculum and exhibitions programs is a continuing series of lectures by visiting artists and critics, regular film screenings, poetry readings, concerts, performances, and other special events.The San Francisco Art Institute is located on the bayward slope of San Francisco's Russian Hill, within easy walking distance of historic North Beach and Chinatown. Extensive public transportation links the institute to the rest of the city and nearby communities.The San Francisco Bay region is the country's sixth-largest metropolitan area and is home to an exciting art scene.

San Francisco Art Institute - History

The San Francisco Art Institute dates back to 1873 when the San Francisco Art Association founded the California School of Design, renamed the California School of Fine Arts in 1916 and the San Francisco Art Institute in 1961. Prior to building this campus on Russian Hill in 1926, the school had occupied several sites on Nob Hill.

Among the artists associated with the school are Eadweard Muybridge, Maynard Dixon, Louise Dahl-Wolf, John Gutzon Borglum, Clyfford Still, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko, Imogen Cunningham, Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange, Richard Diebenkorn, Annie Liebovitz and especially Diego Rivera who came to San Francisco in 1930 to paint a fresco for the new campus and Ansel Adams and Minor White who, in 1946, established the first department of art photography in the United States.

The original Spanish Colonial Revival buildings were designed by the architectural firm Bakewell & Brown and are influenced by the work of Bernard Maybeck.

The 1963 addition was designed by Paffard Keatinge Clay who had worked with Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Skidmore Owings and Merrill. The stepped roof of the lecture hall provides an outdoor amphitheater and stunning views of The City and The Bay.

The San Francisco Art Institute was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.


The Art Institutes system was created in 1969 when Education Management Corporation (EDMC) acquired The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, [9] [10] [11] which was founded in 1921. [12]

Starting in 2000, The Art Institutes began offering bachelor's degrees [13] and, in 2001, launched its distance education program, Art Institute Online, which began offering bachelor's and non-degree programs online. [11] [14] The Art Institutes expanded through the acquisition of existing art colleges and the establishment of new Art Institutes. [15] In 2001, there were around 20 campuses of The Art Institutes [11] this grew to approximately 30 locations in 2006 [16] before reaching 50 Art Institutes in 2010. [17]

In 2012, The Art Institute schools began to experience a decrease in the number of new students enrolling, seeing enrollment numbers drop by approximately 20 percent between the second quarter of the 2012 fiscal year and the start of 2013. EDMC has attributed the drop in enrollment to limited access to Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students and the economic recession. [9] In February 2013, EDMC announced plans for a three-year-old tuition freeze at The Art Institutes. Under this plan, the company pledged to maintain the current cost of tuition through 2015. [18]

In June 2013, EDMC announced that its President John Mazzoni would resign effective July 14, 2013, after 27 years at the organization. Charles Restivo, Group Vice President, would become the Interim President of The Art Institutes. [19] In 2014, the US Department of Education reported that ten EDMC campuses, including several Art Institutes, were placed under heightened cash monitoring. The Art Institute of Pittsburgh was one of the schools listed. [20]

In May 2015, EDMC announced that it would be closing 15 of the Art Institute locations. "A total of 5,432 students are enrolled among the campuses that are slated to close, according to a list provided by EDMC. The company will undergo a teach out process at each location, meaning each campus will continue to offer courses, student services and placement assistance until the last student has graduated, according to Hardman." [21] Campuses slated to close included those in Atlanta, New York City, Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania. In January 2016, EDMC announced that additional Art Institutes would be ceasing enrollments. These campuses are The Art Institute of California – Los Angeles, The Art Institute of St. Louis, and the Art Institute of Tucson. [22] At least 200 additional employees were laid off in May 2016. [23] In June 2016, EDMC announced that the Art Institutes International Minnesota would be ceasing enrollments. That meant a total of 19 Art Institute campuses were scheduled to close.

In June 2016, Tim Moscato, chief operating officer at the Art Institutes, resigned amid more downsizing. [24] The same month, the US Department of Education voted to end ACICS power to accredit. [25] ACICS was stripped of its power to accredit in September. [26] As of June 1, 2016, twelve Art Institute campuses were under heightened cash monitoring (or HCM1) by the US Department of Education because colleges are required to hold a certain amount of money to meet obligations in case the school closes prematurely. Campuses affected were Pittsburgh, Portland, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Minnesota, Colorado, Houston, Seattle, New York City, York, and Phoenix. [27] In December 2016, nine additional Art Institutes (The Art Institute of Atlanta, The Art Institute of Houston, Miami International University of Art and Design) and their branch campuses in Charleston, Nashville, Arlington, Virginia Beach, Austin and San Antonio were placed on probation by their accreditor, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). [28]

In January 2018, Art Institutes locations in Novi and Denver as well as the Illinois Institute of Art locations in Chicago and Schaumburg lost their accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission. They did not inform students about the loss of accreditation until June despite being required to disclose this at the time of the loss. [29] In 2018, Dream Center Education Holdings reported that more AI campuses would be closing. [30] In December 2018, 23 Art Institutes were closed.

In January 2019, The Washington Student Achievement Council suspended AI-Seattle's license to operate, which blocks enrollment of new students. The council will reinstate the license when Dream Center Education Holdings shows that it has "regained financial solvency or completed a viable reorganization." [31] AI Las Vegas also received a show cause notice from ACICS requesting that the school provide information showing why it should not lose its accreditation. [32]

In 2019, reports from DCEH's monitor, Marc Dottore, indicated that $9–13 million of federal funds, meant for students stipends, is missing. [33] [34] According to thePittsburgh Post-Gazette, the monitor is "nearly out of cash to manage the entities he’s tasked to oversee." [35] Dottore has written to the Department of Education that Studio Enterprise, a company designated to service former and current DCEH schools, is taking service fees from the deal without providing any services, draining badly-needed cash from the operation. [36] Information about the Education Principle Foundation is limited, but it appears to be formerly known as the Colbeck Foundation. [37] According to the Republic Report, the Colbeck Foundation has ties to Studio Enterprise. [38]

In February 2019, a federal court-appointed receiver halted Dream Center Education Holdings' plans to close the Art Institute of Pittsburgh on March 31, 2019. [39]

In March 2019, teachers and other staff had not been paid their final pay checks. [40] As many as 13 Art Institute campuses may remain open as of 2019, [41] [42] with the remaining schools facing financial struggles. [43]

The Art Institutes offer degree programs at the associate's, bachelor's and master's levels, as well as non-degree diploma programs. Areas of study include graphic design, media arts and animation, culinary arts, photography, digital filmmaking and video production, interior design, audio production, fashion design, game art and design, baking and pastry, and fashion marketing. [44]

The Art Institutes in Fort Lauderdale, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Minnesota, New York City, Phoenix, Saint Louis, Salt Lake City, Tucson, Vancouver, Wisconsin, and York were accredited by ACICS, [45] which has lost its accreditation power from the US Department of Education. [26]

Nine additional Art Institutes (The Art Institute of Atlanta, The Art Institute of Houston, Miami International University of Art and Design) and their branch campuses in Charleston, Nashville, Arlington, Virginia Beach, Austin and San Antonio were placed on probation by their accreditor, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), in December 2016. [28]

In August 2018, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that the Art Institute of Pittsburgh may lose their accreditation in 2019. [46]

Continued layoffs and downsizing at the remaining campuses occurred in late 2018 [47] and 2019. [48]

Teach-outs are a period of time when new student enrollment has stopped, and remaining students are given a period of time to finish their programs. [49] In May 2015, EDMC spokesperson Chris Hardman stated that the teach-outs would take two to three years. [50]

The Art Institute of Las Vegas is accredited by ACICS however, the Interior Design Bachelor of Arts, Media Arts & Animation Bachelor of Science, Baking & Pastry Associate of Science, Culinary Arts Diploma program were placed on student achievement show-cause due to material non-compliance with its retention rate standard of 60%.

Art Institute of Pittsburgh was placed on probation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education because of insufficient evidence that the institution is currently in compliance with Standard II (Integrity), Requirement of Affiliation 14, and the Related Entities Policy. The school will go through a probationary period until accreditation is reaffirmed or lost. The school had until March 2019 to submit information to show why the agency should not remove the school's accreditation. [51]

The regional accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission, voted on whether or not to hold a vote to impose their Change of Control policy after the sale from EDMC to DCEH to the following campuses: Chicago, Schaumburg, Colorado, and Michigan. Moving them from accredited to candidacy status for a minimum of six months. Any credits earned after February 2018 are unaccredited institutionally.

The Art Institutes' former parent company, Education Management Corporation (EDMC), was headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. [52] In November 2014, EDMC was delisted from the NASDAQ amid financial difficulties, lawsuits, and investigations [53] and its stock was valued at less than one cent per share.

EDMC's initial public offering (IPO) was in 2009. Todd S. Nelson, who was previously the CEO of Apollo Education Group, became an EDMC board member in 2007 and the Chairman of the Board of Directors in 2012. [54]

Politico added that an Indian company might be buying the Art Institute of New York City and NEIA. [55]

In 2017, Education Management Corporation reported that it had sold the existing Art Institutes to The Dream Center Foundation, a Los Angeles-based Pentecostal organization. [56] [57] The sale was complete in October 2017. [58] In July 2017, an accrediting agency, Middle States Association, rejected the sale of the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia Art Institutes to the Dream Center Foundation. [59]

In January 2019, DCEH chairman Randall Barton stated that the Art Institutes, excluding the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Art Institute of Las Vegas and Argosy University campuses, have been transferred to the Education Principle Foundation. [60] [31] [61] Also in January 2019, Dream Center Education Holdings announced that AI schools, excluding AI Pittsburgh, AI Las Vegas, and Argosy campuses, had been transferred to the Education Principle Foundation with help from the US Department of Education. [60] Inside Higher Ed described Education Principle Foundation as "a Delaware nonprofit with no annual budget and almost no internet presence", and linked it to private equity firm Colbeck Capital Management. [62] Studio Enterprise, a Los Angeles company tied to Colbeck Capital Management, was also involved in the ownership transfer. [63]

Art Institute students from closed schools have been directed to DCEH's partner institutions, including other for-profit colleges: DeVry University, Walden University, and Trident University. [64]

According to the Republic Report, the court appointed receiver, Studio Enterprise & South University had until April 11, 2019 to negotiate to separate both South University schools and the remaining Art Institute schools from the Dream Center Education IT Platform by September 11, 2019. "Should they fail to agree, the plan of reorganization will likely fail, thereby dooming South University and the Art Institutes". [65]

Education Principle Foundation schools and their accreditors Edit

    (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges)
  • The Art Institute of Atlanta (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges)
  • The Art Institute of Austin (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges)
  • The Art Institute of Dallas (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges) (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges)
  • The Art Institute of San Antonio (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges) (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges)
  • The Art Institute of Virginia Beach (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges)

DCEH schools and their accreditors Edit

  • The Art Institute of California – Hollywood (Closed March 9, 2019) (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) (ACICS, show cause) (sold and kept open [66] )

Closed or sold campuses Edit

  • The Art Institute of Atlanta – Decatur
  • The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire
  • The Art Institute of California – Los Angeles
  • The Art Institute of California – Orange County (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) [67]
  • The Art Institute of California – San Francisco [68]
  • The Art Institute of California – Silicon Valley
  • The Art Institute of Charleston [69]
  • The Art Institute of Indianapolis
  • The Art Institutes International Minnesota
  • The Art Institute of Michigan
  • The Art Institute of Philadelphia [70]
  • The Art Institute of Phoenix [71][71]
  • The Art Institute of Portland
  • The Art Institute of Raleigh–Durham
  • The Art Institute of St. Louis
  • The Art Institute of Seattle
  • The Art Institute of Salt Lake City
  • The Art Institute of Tennessee – Nashville
  • The Art Institute of Toronto
  • The Art Institute of Tucson
  • The Art Institutes of Wisconsin
  • The Art Institute of Fort Worth
  • The Art Institute of Houston—North
  • The Art Institutes International – Kansas City
  • The Art Institute of Michigan – Troy
  • The Art Institute of Ohio – Cincinnati
  • The Art Institute of Washington- Dulles
  • Illinois Institute of Art – Tinley Park

Between 2000 and 2018, the Art Institutes parent company EDMC was subject to numerous lawsuits from former students, former faculty, and government agencies. Thousands of former students of the Art Institutes claim they have been deceived and misled by the schools and their recruiters and have filed claims with the US Department of Education. [72] [73] [74] Art Institute students are able to file defense to repayment claims with the US Department of Education. [49]

In October 2000, EDMC announced the settlement of a lawsuit brought by a group of approximately 350 former students of The Art Institute of Houston. [75]

From 2011 to 2015, EDMC was involved in a United States Department of Justice investigation and lawsuit alleging both illegal recruitment practices by EDMC schools, including The Art Institutes, and fraudulent receipt of $11 billion in federal and state financial aid money. [76] [77] [78] [79] A 2011 US DOJ report claimed EDMC "created a 'boiler room' style sales culture and has made recruiting and enrolling new students the sole focus of its compensation system." [80]

In May 2013, a federal judge in Pennsylvania rejected a bid to dismiss a lawsuit against EDMC by a former EDMC employee. The lawsuit alleges that the corporation and its affiliates engaged in a scheme to maximize profits from financial aid programs administered by the U.S. Department of Education. The complainant in the case, Jason Sobek, who worked as an admissions director for EDMC in Pittsburgh from June 2008 through November 2010, alleges that the firm falsified information given to the Department of Education that indicated they were in compliance with the loan programs' eligibility requirements. In testimony that provided the basis for the lower court's decision last October, Sobek alleged that EDMC operated a "carefully crafted and widespread for-profit education scheme [in which] defendants have defrauded the United States and its taxpayers out of millions of dollars in the form of federally backed student loans and grants." [81]

In November 2015, EDMC agreed to pay $95.5 million to settle claims of illegal recruiting, and consumer fraud. [73]

In April 2016, two former AI teachers filed suit in Alameda City Superior Court claiming EDMC did not pay them a minimum wage or provide adequate rest periods, in order "to reduce compensation and increase its own profits." [82] On September 8, 2016, Art Institutes students known as "I Am Ai" presented a notice to the Director of New England Institute of Art (NEIA) about a lawsuit that would be coming in 30 days. [83] The lawsuit is being written by the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School. [84] On September 24, 2016, the Attorney General of Massachusetts expressed concern that the teaching duties at NEIA were being taken over by an unlicensed Indian company with no background in teaching US art students. The AG's Office stated that if a proper education for NEIA students could not be ensured, that NEIA should shut down at the end of the 2016. [85] In December 2016, nine additional Art Institutes were placed on probation by their accreditor, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). [28]

On July 6, 2017, two former Art Institute students filed a lawsuit against Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos for illegally delaying rules intended to protect borrowers' rights. They were represented by the Project on Predatory Student Lending and Public Citizen in two lawsuits. [86] This lawsuit helped clear the way for 2016 Borrower Defense Rule to take effect. [87]

In 2018, Dream Center Education Holdings took control of the remaining 31 Art Institutes schools. In December 2018, Art Institute students filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County, claiming that Dream Center Educational Holdings failed to notify students it had lost institutional accreditation at four Illinois AI campuses. [88]

According to the College Scorecard, the Art Institute of Atlanta has a 19 percent graduation rate, a typical debt of $30,982, a 28 percent student loan repayment rate, and a median salary after attending of $30,900. [89]

In 2011, Frontline released a documentary titled Educating Sergeant Pantzke. In the documentary, Iraq war veteran Chris Pantzke discussed the lack of disability services at the school. According to Pantzke, "Being a soldier, you don't want to quit, you don't want to give up or fail." After doing his own research, Pantzke concluded that the degree he was pursuing wasn't "worth much more than the paper is worth," and felt he was "throwing away taxpayer money" by using GI Bill funds. [90]

In 2014, an investigation by the City Attorney of San Francisco's office led to a $4.4 million settlement. The city claimed AI used deceptive marketing tactics resulting in underestimated program costs for students and inflated job placement figures for graduates. [91]

Student loan debtors have appealed to the US Department of Education for debt cancellation through defense to repayment claims. These efforts are premised on the allegations that they were defrauded. [92] Students who attended the school during the time it closed may also be eligible for student loan cancellation. [93] [94] The student debt group "I Am Ai" has acted as a support group for students and former of the Art Institutes, offering advice about debt cancellation. [3] although it is unclear exactly which debts were cancelled, a report of $11 million in student debt was subsequently cancelled when DeVos and Trump finally buckled under pressure from I am AI in November, 2019.

Researching Greenwich Village History

Hi, my name is Emily Kramer. I am a first year master’s student of the Archives and Public History Program at New York University. I recently graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute with a degree in The History and Theory of Contemporary Art. I am interested in learning the ways in which technology, historical research and record making interact. In relation to my undergraduate studies, I am particularly focused on digital history in relation to popular culture, social media, and the contemporary arts.

I am currently involved with a project involving the archives of a 1949 symposium entitled, The Western Round Table on Modern Art. The material charts a three day discussion on production, display, and understanding of art during the era. Luminaries such as Marcel Duchamp, Frank Lloyd Wright and Kenneth Burke are among the panel members, contributing to its historical importance. The material is being collected, edited and contextualized and is in the final stages of pre-publication.

I’m relatively new to the field of archives and public history and I’m looking forward to learning more about how they function in the digital realm. I am hoping to find some interesting cross-overs between contemporary art theory and creating digital history.


Kathan Brown

Kathan Brown

Founding Director

Kathan Brown was born in New York City, grew up in Florida, earned a B.A. (with an English major) from Antioch College in Ohio, attended the London Central School of Arts and Crafts (two years), and later received an M.F.A. and an honorary doctorate from the California College of the Arts. She also holds an honorary doctorate from the San Francisco Art Institute.

Kathan Brown, with her then-husband Jeryl Parker, founded Crown Point Press in 1962 in Richmond, California. In 1964 the couple parted and Kathan moved the press to the basement of her home in Berkeley. In 1964 she published a handmade book of her own etchings, and in 1965 followed it with three more books of etchings by artists she invited to work with her: Richard Diebenkorn, Beth Van Hoesen, and Wayne Thiebaud. She also held etching workshops open to all, and worked as a typist when funds were low. Between 1966 and 1974 she taught etching at the San Francisco Art Institute, eventually becoming head of the printmaking department.

In 1971 New York print publisher Bob Feldman of Parasol Press sent artist Sol LeWitt to Crown Point for a project, and Crown Point moved later that year to a loft space in Oakland. In the 1970s, in addition to continuing to produce prints for Parasol, Crown Point Press published three books of Kathan’s own etchings, and four by San Francisco artists: Bruce Conner (two volumes), James Melchert, and Tom Marioni.

Kathan Brown and Tom Marioni met in 1974 and married in 1983. Between 1975 and 1981 they created five issues of VISION, an unconventional art journal published by Crown Point Press and edited by Marioni. VISION’s most unconventional issue is Number 4, 1980, Word of Mouth, a set of phonograph records of short talks presented by artists who traveled under Crown Point’s auspices to an island in the Pacific Ocean for a conference.

Kathan’s love of travel also influenced two programs the press instigated in the 1980s in which Crown Point artists traveled first to Japan, then to China, to work with traditional woodcut craftsmen in those countries. Aside from those projects, the press has always worked exclusively with the slow and antiquated process of etching.

Kathan Brown’s writing includes several of her own books and also web materials and newsletters for the press. She has edited the Magical Secrets series of instructional books published by Crown Point, and has created video elements for those books and for the Crown Point websites. She has been shooting video in the Crown Point studio since the late 1970s.

In 1977, the year the Crown Point price list begins, Kathan re-started Crown Point’s own print publishing program after having worked mainly for Parasol Press for six years. As in the press’s earliest days, she began with Richard Diebenkorn. In January, 1978, John Cage made his first etchings at Crown Point Press. Those two very different, inventive artists returned almost yearly to work at Crown Point. They set the tone for its etching publications over the following years.

In 1986 Kathan moved Crown Point Press from Oakland to San Francisco and renovated an industrial loft space, but in fifteen seconds on October 17, 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake devastated those quarters. A year later the press purchased the building it now occupies in San Francisco’s South of Market district. Crown Point Press has its gallery, bookstore, and workshop on the top floor, with the entrance at 20 Hawthorne Street, around the corner from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. (Click here for a more detailed version of Kathan Brown’s biography.)

Valerie Wade

Valerie Wade


Valerie Wade is director of Crown Point Press and is a partner, with Kathan Brown, in the business. She was born in Springfield, Virginia, and received a BFA in art history and printmaking at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, then studied art administration at American University in Washington D.C. From 1984 to 1987 she was with Szoke Koo Associates, a New York art consulting firm where she sold many Crown Point Press prints to businesses, architects, designers and private clients.

In 1988 Valerie moved to San Francisco and began working at Crown Point Press as sales representative. In 1993 she became gallery director, and in 2006 assumed her current position as director. She oversees operations, especially sales activity, gallery exhibitions, and art fair participation, and also manages some of the press’s artist projects, including those of Ed Ruscha, Tomma Abts, Mary Heilmann, and Amy Sillman.

In the San Francisco art community, Valerie is on the advisory board of the non-profit space Southern Exposure, and has participated in the leadership of the San Francisco Art Dealers Association and ArtTable. For the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art she has been a public-event panelist on “How to Start an Art Collection,” and for Southern Exposure on “Art Publishing Now.” She has juried print competitions for the Pacific Art League and the Berkeley Art Center. Valerie also has served on selection committees for the Chicago International Art Exposition and the San Francisco International Art Exposition. In 2017 she participated in a weekend exploratory seminar, The Material Echo: Expanded Printmaking at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University. Valerie is currently a member of the Board of Directors for the International Fine Print Dealers Association, New York.

In her private life she enjoys hikes, yoga, and gardening on her deck at home in downtown San Francisco.

Stacie Scammell

Stacie Scammell

Business Manager

Stacie Scammell came to Crown Point Press in 1989 as Assistant to the Financial Director. Her first day of work was the Monday after the Loma Prieta earthquake. Right after the quake, she called to confirm that she still had a job, and was told “Yes! Wear jeans and tennis shoes because we are moving.” With aftershocks still occurring, she joined the rest of the staff in quickly moving furniture, prints, and supplies out of the damaged building that was then occupied by the press. Now she is business manager. She handles business matters and also manages human resources, building maintenance, and day-to-day office operations.

Stacie was born and raised in the Bay Area and earned her BA from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. She loves interior design and spends her free time making the world a more beautiful place, one room at a time.

Sasha Baguskas

Sasha Baguskas

Editor/Publications Coordinator

Sasha Baguskas has been at Crown Point Press since 1995. As publications coordinator, she manages the layout, design and production of Crown Point’s advertising, its newsletter (Overview), and catalogs and books published by the press. These include the four instructional books in the Magical Secrets series used in workshops and universities across the country. For three of the four books in the series, she was the photographer for the “step-by-step” sections. She also oversees the Crown Point bookstore, and manages the Crown Point Press and Magical-Secrets websites.

In 2021, Sasha took over the responsibilities of registrar, which includes management of the print inventory and the shipping of prints.

Sasha was born in Philadelphia and raised in New York. She moved to San Francisco in 1993 after receiving a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College. In her spare time she creates textile designs from her watercolors, and is an at-home horticulturalist, with a particular affinity for begonias, philodendron, and euphorbia amak.

Emily York

Emily York

Senior Master Printer

Emily York earned a BA in art with an emphasis in printmaking from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1999. While on a school field trip she visited Crown Point’s 35-year retrospective at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco, and instantly knew she wanted to be a printer. In 2000 Emily began training as a printer at what is now Paulson Fontaine Press, a fine art etching press in Berkeley founded by Pam Paulson, a Crown Point Master Printer. In 2004 she began working at Crown Point Press and received the master printer title in 2005. She is the author of Magical Secrets about Aquatint, one of four volumes in Crown Point’s popular instructional series.

Emily grew up in St. Helena, in California’s Napa Valley. She lives in Oakland with her daughter. In her free time she enjoys cooking and craft projects, making miniature paintings, and creating shadow puppets and sculptures of dragons and dinosaurs with her daughter.

Courtney Sennish

Courtney Sennish

Master Printer

Courtney Sennish is originally from Ohio. She interned at Crown Point Press while studying printmaking at the Rhode Island School of Design with Crown Point Master Printer Brian Shure. In 2013, after receiving her BFA, she moved to San Francisco to work toward an MFA at the California College of the Arts and to further develop her own art. In this period, she also worked part time as a printer at Mullowney Printing with Crown Point Master Printer Paul Mullowney. Upon completion of her advanced degree in 2015 she began work as a printer at Crown Point Press. She continues to create paintings and sculpture in her own studio.

Courtney became a Crown Point Master Printer in 2018. She lives in Oakland where she plays beach volleyball on Sundays and enjoys cycling through Golden Gate Park.

Robin Milliken

Robin Milliken

Robin Milliken is from Portland, Oregon, and earned her BFA in printmaking at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in 2011. There, Robin discovered a passion for intaglio while taking a photogravure course taught by Crown Point Master Printer Paul Mullowney. On completion of her degree, she moved to San Francisco where she worked part time as a printer at Mullowney Printing and also interned at Crown Point Press. She became a printer at Crown Point Press in 2021.

Robin lives in Oakland. In her spare time she maintains her own art practice, and enjoys gardening, sewing, and volunteering at Max’s Garage Press in Berkeley.

1930s-Era Murals Found Under Painted Hallways at SF Art Institute

The plain white walls in the hallway of the venerable San Francisco Art Institute tightly clutched their secret for more than eight decades — buried beneath a dozen layers of paint. But a new effort to turn back the decades and peel away the paint has bared one of those secrets — a fully intact 1930s fresco painted by Frederick Olmsted.

The fresco is one of a half dozen murals painted on the lower walls of the 140-year-old institution, and later painted over, likely to make way for a next generation of student art.

Olmsted’s fresco — an ancient method of painting watercolor onto wet plaster — depicts a group of workers toiling in a marble factory. The tower of the school’s Russian Hill campus is visible in the mural’s top corner — its perspective drawing from the nearby industrial neighborhood that would later become touristy Fisherman’s Wharf.

“I think it’s an important memorial to a period when San Francisco really was a working class city,” said SFAI Facilities Manager Heather Hickman Holland, “with people cutting marble right here, now where you’re buying your chowder bowl.”


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It was Holland who first noticed the strange lines on the stark white hallway walls which she initially thought were cobwebs. After moving in closer with the light on her phone, she realized the lines were the profiles of faces protruding from deep beneath the paint.

“I realized there were frescoes here that we had forgotten about,” Holland said.

On wall after wall where thousands of students had filed past over the years, she found more evidence of murals. She turned her curiosity to the school’s library where she discovered a smattering of documentation showing a series of murals had been painted in the school during the New Deal era. It was the same time period that resulted in Works Progress Administration murals, which were painted in places like Coit Tower, where Olmsted also painted. The school’s own auditorium features a massive mural by Diego Rivera in 1931.

The school received a city art grant to uncover small squares of paint on the walls, revealing hints of what may lie underneath. The school eventually received grants from the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation and the national Save America’s Treasures to finally remove the paint on the wall where Olmsted’s mural was believed to rest.

As architectural conservator Molly Lambert and her team began peeling away the paint, the faces of 1930s workers began to emerge from their long slumber. The nine figures were back at work cutting and moving slabs of marble, smoking cigarettes and polishing the newly cut pieces.

“Of course when you uncover something like this you’re not sure what the quality’s going to be,” Lambert said. “But this is fantastic.”

Once the bulk of the paint was removed, the work came down to a lot of delicate scraping to remove the final layers. Lambert estimated the fresco was covered over in some dozen layers of paint.

“I mean look at this guy, he even has a cigarette that says Chesterfield on it,” Lambert laughed, pointing at one figure. “He’d be vaping today.”

Once the mural was mostly uncovered, Holland put on her detective hat once again. She ventured to nearby North Point Street, where she came across a building with brick arches that matched the ones in the mural. It turned out the current Brick and Beam restaurant is housed in what was once the marble factory depicted in the fresco.

“If you go back and look at historical photos of the time period, it was a really industrial area,” Holland said.

The uncovering of the mural comes at a time when San Francisco’s School Board recently voted to cover a controversial mural at George Washington High School. The board had originally voted to paint over the mural but then decided to simply cover it.

“It’s an interesting time to be uncovering something from the past,” Holland said.

The school plans to begin work to uncover more murals hidden beneath paint in the hallways. Soon the school’s students will file past colorful, historic paintings as they shuffle off to classes instead of generic, vacant walls. “You’re seeing something that’s always been there,” said art restorer Samantha Emmanuel who is working on Lambert’s team. “We just brought it to the forefront."

Inventing San Francisco's art scene / 1950s bohemians altered the world from their lofts in the city

7 of 9 Wally Hedrick "Madonna and Wire Wheel" 1983 oil on canvas 96" x 66" Wally Hedrick, shown here displaying one of his enormous oil paintings, gave a brash, crude and original style to his artwork. Show More Show Less

8 of 9 JESS COLLINS "Fig. 6 - A Lamb for Pylaochos: Herko, N.Y. 1964: Translation # 16" 1966 oil on canvas over wood 24 3/8" x 20" Show More Show Less

The most famous event in Beat history in California is Allen Ginsberg's 1955 reading of his epic poem "Howl." The part that everyone forgets is that not only did five other strong poets read that night -- Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, Philip Whalen and Philip Lamantia, with Kenneth Rexroth as master of ceremonies -- but they read in an art gallery. It was artists who made that moment of communal breakthrough possible. The place was a co-op called the Six Gallery at 3119 Fillmore, near Union, and one of its mainstays was the artist Wally Hedrick, who died Dec. 17, in Sonoma County. Before it had been the Six, it had been the King Ubu Gallery. Six Gallery was run by the poet Robert Duncan his lover, Jess (born Burgess Collins), who died in San Francisco on Jan. 2 and another artist.

Both Jess and Hedrick came to the Bay Area in the early 1950s, and neither ever left. They did much to make a culture in which it was possible to make great art, and they made some of that art, too. Hedrick's work was brash and crude, particularly compared with Jess' hermetic and lyric collages and paintings, but both were utter originals whose work still defines something about the Bay Area. They came here because it was a sanctuary from Cold War culture, and they flung its doors open a little further.

In the late 1980s, when I was in my mid-20s, I started to research my first book. It was on this group of artists, who were of my parents' generation but were nothing like my parents. I had fallen in love with a collage by one of them, Wallace Berman, a few years before, and went to look for a book on him, naively assuming that every major artist had some documentation. There was almost nothing, and so I began to write the book that I had wanted to read and then realized that Berman had not been alone, but rather was one star in a California constellation of insurrectionary art of the 1950s.

The achievements of the six artists I eventually picked to write about were astonishing. Not only had each of them made spectacular works of art, but also their work was visionary, prophetic and influential in devious ways. They had formed a community of mutual encouragement and inspiration long before scholars and the art world paid any attention to them, and the community was something of a masterpiece, too, a prefiguration of the counterculture, or its dawn.

They lived their lives as adventures, not as duties. They had not sought financial security or career success. They lived according to their principles, without compromise, and though they were sometimes poor and often precariously situated, they never seemed to regret it. For me, fresh from an editorial job and stuffed full of maternal admonitions about health insurance and savings accounts, they were fabulous role models. I didn't know then that I wasn't just taking a year off to write a book, that more than 15 years later I would still be an independent writer -- but when I look back, I see how much they modeled the possibilities for me. Not that I lived up to them, but at least I knew what they could be.

Jess, born in 1923, had grown up in Southern California (as did Hedrick). He always had strong inclinations toward art making, but he let his father's practical principles steer him into chemistry, and when the Second World War broke out, he became a nuclear chemist working on plutonium for the Manhattan Project. Aghast by what the project's atom bombs did, he had a vision of the end of the world and decided that if the world was doomed, he might as well do what he really valued. Thus he came to enroll at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) in its heyday, when the godfather of Bay Area figurative painting, David Park, and the magisterial abstractionist Clyfford Still were among its teachers.

But he was not content to pick up the dominant style of Abstract Expressionism, the official form of rebellion in the era. He began to paste together images from magazines, to reference fairy tales, to work with words, with pop culture and eventually with hermetic emblems and mystical traditions -- the Tarot, alchemy. His work was openly gay in its appreciation of male nudes and openly unmasculine in daring to be pretty, delicate, playful -- all things about as far from Jackson Pollock as you could get, as were the pervasive literary references (to everything from "The Wizard of Oz" to "Finnegans Wake"). He dumped his last name to disavow his family. He also settled in with the poet Robert Duncan, who was himself a great rebel -- Duncan had just burned a lot of his bridges by publishing an essay about being gay -- and the two lived together until Duncan's death in the late 1980s. Jess' rebellion was quiet, gentle and absolute.

The official version of art history describes New York: First there was Abstract Expressionism with its lofty, disengaged, macho mysticism then in the '60s there was Pop, which dealt with advertising, the funnies and contemporary consumer culture. Artists like Jess messed up that chronology by making work that was both, a decade before Pop was supposed to have arrived. By the mid-1950s, he was cutting up and rearranging the comic strip Dick Tracy into a surrealistic jumble whose re-engineered title now read "Tricky Cad." The collages expressed both delight in the visual richness of the comic strip and resistance to its authoritarianism.

Jess' work was always about remaking the existing world into something richer and stranger, through painting over thrift-store paintings, executing found images in paint-by-number style, and collaging. He took the swankily euphemistic "Modess because . " sanitary napkin advertisements of the era and reconfigured them into a series of festively distorted deities whose slogan now read, "Goddess because . "

Korean War veteran Wally Hedrick's work was even more a prefiguration of Pop Art. One of my favorites has always been "Fred's TV," a tall painting in rich brown tones of a pedestal-style television console, looking like some sort of temple obelisk. The screen was full of hieroglyphs and a red mouth opened at the foot of the thing. It was lurid, mystical and sarcastic all at once, as Hedrick's work often was. Like Jess, he was able to bring together things that were contradictory or mutually exclusive. He also began painting flags in the 1950s, before New York's Jasper Johns did, though none of the paintings survive. Hedrick -- ever the anti-careerist -- painted many of those flags black to protest the Vietnam War. It was an idiosyncratic protest, but a passionate one.

Hedrick was married to the painter Jay DeFeo, who has become far better known since her death in 1989 (a show of her work was recently on display at the Whitney in New York). For several years in the late 1950s and early 1960s, they lived in a famous artists' building at 2322 Fillmore, whose other flats were inhabited over the years by the painter Joan Brown, the poet Michael McClure and a succession of other artists. This was during the age of white flight to suburbia, and of low rents, when artist couples living off one part- time paycheck seemed to have their pick of the wide-open housing market. Politically, the '50s were far more oppressive than the present -- almost any nonconformity could be construed as communist, and there were far fewer who dared to dissent. But economically, the times were easy, and some of the freedom of the artists came from the lack of financial pressure.

Just to choose to live in San Francisco seemed, in the 1950s, a decision to forgo a career. What gets called "the art world" hardly existed, for there were almost no galleries or chances to sell work, though The Chronicle had a good art critic, Alfred Frankenstein, and the de Young and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art had bold directors and curators. No one expected to make much of a living at making art, and when opportunity knocked, they often didn't bother to answer. Hedrick and DeFeo were included in the Museum of Modern Art's 16 Americans show that also gave Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg their museum debuts, but they didn't bother to go to New York for the opening that might have launched their careers. Hedrick was busy painting his flags black. DeFeo was laboring on "The Rose," the massive painting to which she would devote seven years of her life. Both were good ways to sabotage a career.

Though Jess had many close friends, he chose not to leave the house much and to forgo parties and public events. By the mid-1960s, he and Duncan had bought their home on 20th Street in the Mission, where Jess lived until his death a few weeks ago.

I visited him there to interview him in 1988. It was a magically introspective realm, with shrouded windows, a wonderful clutter of Tiffany lamps and other Victoriana bought when such stuff was still in the thrift stores for a song, with caches of books in many rooms and Jess' art and the art of friends, such as the British painter R.B. Kitaj, on the walls. On the top floor was Jess' studio with more fantastic clutter -- antique frames, clippings ready for collaging, statuettes, photographs -- and on a shelf a little cardboard sign lettered in pastels: "The Seven Deadly Virtues of Contemporary Art." Listed among those sins: originality, spontaneity, simplicity and immediacy. I visited every now and again over the years, drinking weak coffee and talking about children's books. I stopped going in recent years, because Jess had Alzheimer's and I thought that explaining to him who I was and why we should talk could be burdensome for him. Now I regret it.

Hedrick had drifted farther and farther north, living in Bodega Bay in recent years. He ducked a career as avidly as any artist has ever pursued one, teaching painting at College of Marin, showing here and there, and seeming entirely satisfied with the life that resulted. He told me that in the 1950s, "there was a tradition for the Figurative painters -- they were called the Figs -- to play the Creepy Crawlers -- who were the Abstract Expressionists -- every year to see who was better. . Every group would come up with a team, and I would be the umpire. I'm very proud of the fact that they would trust me. I mean, I had nothing to do with either style, and the fact was that they recognized that." But he continued to play banjo in the Studio 13 Jass Band, formed in the early 1950s, when its members included the distinguished painters David Park (piano) and Elmer Bischoff (trumpet).

The jazz band, like the King Ubu and Six Galleries, was one of many gestures toward making a community and a culture. For what these artists realized is that before they could make art they had to make a culture in which it was possible to make art, and such a thing barely existed on the West Coast in their day. They did this by starting collective projects -- galleries, publications, film-screening societies -- but also by paying attention and supporting one another's artwork, and by teaching and mentoring younger artists. The resultant community mixed up painters, poets and filmmakers, straights and queers -- there weren't enough dissenters to let people form homogenous counterculture cliques, as the Bay Area does now.

Of the six artists I wrote about, only Bruce Conner -- who is still living and working in San Francisco -- ever acquired a high profile, and that more for his experimental film than his visual art. But as underground culture they sowed what would bloom as the counterculture of the 1960s, as well as the art sensibilities of later generations. Hedrick taught Jerry Garcia at the San Francisco Art Institute and generations at College of Marin's Indian Valley campus in Novato. Jess never taught, but I know three poets who count him as a major influence, two of whom teach in San Francisco, and there must be many more. His work is in major museum collections all over the country, and a recent South of Market exhibition documented his influence on a younger generation of artists. In making art that was outspokenly political, mystical, sexual, playful and bursting forth with popular-culture icons, they were expanding the possibilities of visual art and developing a new language to describe the world we still live in and more particularly to define what the Bay Area would become.

These days, making art, writing and in fact most of what we do strikes me as an act of faith. Who knows who will see it, if it will ever strike a resonant chord, what kind of a world is being born and what it will make of these offerings on the altar of the future? You can't know what your impact will be, but you can steer by principle and inspiration. Nobody ever did it with more integrity and more passion than these artists.

California Art

The Founding of the Society of California Pioneers and the Pioneer Art Collection
From the onset, San Francisco was the center of intellectual and cultural life in California (Hughes, 2002). The first influx of American artists in California came with the Gold Rush. Beginning in San Francisco in the 1850s, the Society of California Pioneers began amassing all manner of historical goods, including drawings, paintings, and prints. In 1894, the Society’s first building in Pioneer Place became a storehouse for this eclectic collection of historical treasure. Until the end of the 19th Century, the art collection displayed in Pioneer Hall was the only collection in San Francisco that provided full access to the public (Evans, 1955).

It was a great loss to the Society and California when all but the contents of the vault was lost in the great earthquake and fire of 1906 (Evans, 1960). Following the fire, the Society immediately began to rebuild its collections, beginning with the library. A second art collection was assembled, mostly from art that had survived in private collections, and grew over time from the tastes and generosity of its donors to where today the society’s sizable collection totals close to 2,500 individual works of art (Haas, 1999). In 1934 the society purchased the John Drum Collection which included a great number of rare early California lithographs and paintings covering a broad range of early subjects. In 1940, the Society acquired the Turrell Collection of printed materials, photo negatives and prints, and valuable sketches and drawings. In the 1960s the McCarthy, Meussdorffer, and Eppler collections further enriched the Society’s holdings with additional significant works by early California painters and an impressive collection of large scale lithographs of 19 th Century California (Evans, 1960 Haas, 1999).

While some pieces are valued primarily for their historic documentation, other works of art are prized for both artistic achievement and as important records of the past. Society Director Elliot Evan observed, “From these pictures much of the pioneer artist’s sense of urgency and significance of the here and now, of history in the making, is communicated to us.” (Evans, 1955:12) Both the personal and artistic lives of these early California pioneer artists were intertwined with history – they were creating history as they made their art. The early artists were founders of the Bohemian Club, members of the Pioneer Society, volunteer fire department Vigilante Committee, etc. In this overview and in the individual biographies of artists in the Pioneer Society collection, you will find the historical connections are as intriguing as their artist accomplishments.

Photographic Collection of more than 60,000 images is considered in a separate collection and lithographic prints are considered in a separate category. In the discussion of original works of art below, including paintings (watercolors, pastels, oils) and drawings, the artists and art subjects and styles that represent the strongest and most cohesive part of the Society’s collection of early California art from the mid 1800s to approximately the beginning of the 20 th century will be explored (Capecci, et al., 2005). Individual biographies of important artists in the collection are linked to this overview.

Art of the Gold Rush
Historian for the Society of California Pioneers J.S. Hittell commented in 1878 on the rapid transformation of San Francisco from “a village so insignificant that it had scarcely a mention on the map” to palaces “that rival the homes of European princes” (Olmsted, 1971:1).

San Francisco quickly grew from boom town to the Paris of the West from riches amassed from the Gold Rush of 1849 both from mining and providing services to the prospectors. America’s desire to compete with European culture in the nineteenth century fueled a demand for formal portraiture and nowhere was that truer than in early San Francisco where portrait painters soon became established residents (Jones, 1995 Hughes, 2002:7). Pioneer artist William Keith commented on the heyday of early San Francisco art:

“The people had money, had more of it than they needed, so they bought art works generously… men who could mix colors and put colors on canvas had no trouble in selling the finished canvas. Some of those who sold pictures here in those days could do more than mix colors, and some few could even paint pictures that were deservedly ranked as works of art… the country was young then and men could see the poetry and romance and the art that lay at their own doors…” (The Call, 1895)

The Society has amassed an important collection of these early portrait paintings that includes a portrait of James Lick by Alice Chittenden, several by William Smith Jewett including portraits of Joseph Folsom and John Sutter, and Adeline Ballou’s portrait of the iconic San Francisco character Emperor Norton. Even with advent of photography in the 1850s, painting was regarded as having more status among the wealthy and demand for painting remained strong well into the 20 th Century (Capecci, et al., 2005).

Genre paintings of household and everyday life in California reflecting the unique diversity and originality of California culture were popular subjects in the early days and are well represented in the Pioneer Society’s collection. Four exceptional genre paintings are part of the Society’s collection from the pre-earthquake era: The Pioneer by Jules Tavernier, painted in 1877 William Ralston Driving His Two-Horse Buggy by Thomas Hill in 1860 Chinese New Year by Ernest Narjot in 1888 and Miner’s Dream by an unknown artist ca. 1850 (Haas, 1999).

The Era of Great Landscape Painting
During the decade that followed the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, California’s scenic and pristine wilderness became more accessible (Jones, 1995:1). The grandeur of the rugged Sierra Nevada, giant redwoods, and Yosemite Valley became a magnet to artists from the eastern states and Europe. The California landscape became the symbol of western expansion and America’s destiny, mythologized as an exotic unspoiled Eden (Capecci et al., 2005). California historian Kevin Starr explains, “The 1870s were emerging as a golden age of landscape painting in the Far West, and the Athens of this golden age was San Francisco” (Starr, 2011). During the prosperous 1870’s many wealthy patrons commissioned large landscapes to grace the walls of their palatial San Francisco homes. (Hughes, 2002:8 Baird, 1970:5)

Many California artists had traveled through exotic lands on their way to San Francisco before the building of the Panama Canal. In the 1870s tropical landscape paintings became fashionable and many artists painted tropical scenes from drawings and photographs made on the way to California and new travels to Hawaii, Mexico, and South and Central America (Neubert, 1971). From the very beginning art in California developed a regional identity characterized by deep sense of place, a kind of mystical communion between the artist and the land. People were typically depicted in tiny proportion compared to the vast scale of the surrounding wilderness. Most of these early artists, including Thomas Hill and William Keith, traveled extensively in the Sierra on foot or on horseback while on extended sketching trips. Field drawings were used to develop finished painted landscapes in their San Francisco studios (Jones, 1995:1). In Addition to Hill and Keith, other notable landscape artists of the era included in the Society of California Pioneers collection are Hiram Bloomer, Ransom Holdredge, Virgil Williams, Julian Rix, William Marple, and Juan Wandesford (Miller, 1975). During this same period, maritime themes and other transportation subjects such as trains were depicted in seascapes and landscapes. The Society’s collection includes notable California maritime artists of this style, Gideon Denny, William Coulter, and Charles D. Robinson.

Early Artist Movements in San Francisco
The first major art exhibition in California was held in 1857 at the First Annual Industrial Exhibition of San Francisco’s Mechanics’ Institute. The California Art Union founded in 1865 held only two art exhibitions (Mille, 1975:10). Chartered in 1872 in San Francisco, the Bohemia club became a center for the growth of art and all things cultural. Among its founding members were artists Jules Tavernier, Thomas Hill, William Keith, and Theodore Wores, whose works are represented in the Society’s collection. Founded in 1871, The San Francisco Art Association established the first art school, California School of Design, in 1893 located in the former Mark Hopkins mansion. The School of Design was as a training ground for emerging artists and eventually evolved into the modern-day San Francisco Art Institute (Hughes,2002). Early women artists exhibited in the all-male bastion of the Bohemian club and were charter members of the Art Association. Out of sixty students in the first class of the School of Design, forty-six were women. One of these early female students, Alice Chittenden, became one of the first women to exhibit in the Bohemian Club, the first woman faculty member of the School of Design, and a charter member of the 1906 women’s Sketch Club. Works by Chittenden are included in the collection of the Society of California Pioneers, as well as Sketch Club member Mary Richardson (Wilson,1983).

European Influences
Artists of the French Barbizon School of the mid-1800s became the first plein air painters to work outdoors where they experienced the landscape directly and personally. “En plein air” is a French expression which means “in the open air” (Jones, 1996 Baird, 1967). Their evocative, realistic, romantic style was well suited to the California inclination to see landscape as metaphor. Hiram R. Bloomer and Ransom Gillet Holdredge, both represented in The Society of California Pioneers’ collection, were among the first California artists to leave for Paris, auctioning their paintings in 1874 to finance the trip (Baird, 1967). Danish born painter Joachim F. Richardt embraced this style in his 1876 painting San Francisco by Moonlight, considered one of the most important artworks of pre-earthquake San Francisco and one of the major works in the Society’s collection (Harrison, 1989). The famous painting Portola’s Discovery of San Francisco Bay by Emile Pissis exhibited in 1896 is also an important work of this period and style in our collection.

While California Tonalism of the 1890-1920s had origins in the French Barbizon movement, it is distinct from plein air painting. Tonalism explored the landscape of the artist’s imagination rather than an identifiable place using a low-key palette of cool colors and greys for scenes often seen through a mist in the diminished light of early morning or evening (UC Davis, 1967 Jones, 1995). These tranquil landscapes of an intensely personal nature allow the viewer to imagine strolling or sitting quietly in a landscape of human scale, in contrast with the grand and wild vistas of Yosemite. Tonalism became the dominate style in Northern California at the turn of the century while the influence of impressionism was just beginning to be felt in California decades after its development in Europe. William Keith was influential later in his artistic career in making Tonalism the dominate artistic style in the late 1800s.

Boom and Bust Times, Disaster and Diaspora
The popularity of California landscapes supported a prosperous art community until the 1880s when an economic decline resulting from the end of the Nevada silver boom in 1878 and the increased travel abroad on fashionable grand tours by San Francisco’s wealthy art patrons shifted tastes to collecting more European art. Students enrolled at the San Francisco School of Design, facing severely reduced prospects at home, left to study abroad (Miller, 1975 Wilson, 1983). San Francisco artists William Keith and Arthur E Mathews, inspired by their studies in Paris, built a bridge between the earlier California art traditions of epic landscapes and the first impressionist experiments of an emerging new generation of artists inspired by European art movements. Keith and Mathews were instrumental in organizing the art exhibit at the 1894 California Midwinter International Fair held in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, which revived the stagnant art scene in California (Hughes, 2002). However, San Francisco’s invigorated art scene died with the 1906 earthquake and fire. Galleries, private collections, and artist’s studios were lost in a death blow more profound than the art slump of the 1880s. In the wake of destruction, an exodus of artists left San Francisco for other locales, including Southern California.

California Impressionism and the Development of a Regional Identity
Despite the attention generated for California artists by the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915, which has been called the “most important watershed in California’s art history” (Wilson, 1983:7), in the early 20 th century all but the most famous of California’s early artists fell into relative obscurity on the national art scene. Despite their lower profile, a regional art movement flourished from 1900 to 1950 as California’s dramatic landscapes and quality of light became the favorite subjects of California impressionist-inspired plein air artists in Southern California in places like Carmel-by-the Sea, Laguna Beach, Los Angeles and Pasadena from the teens to the 1930s. The French Barbizon School in northern California had become so entrenched that it tended to inhibit the introduction of new influences, (Hughes,2002) with the exception of a Oakland’s “Society of Six” painters organized in 1917 (AskArt) and the emergence of the California Decorative style. The Society of Six painter’s use of color in plein air paintings paved the way for the region’s postwar modern artists such as Richard Diebenkorn and Wayne Thiebaud. Arthur Mathews, who was an art judge in the Panama-Pacific Exposition, inspired a post-earthquake style know as California Decorative with paintings in a flat decorative style of classical figures frolicking in idyllic landscapes, murals and various decorative objects during the height of the American Arts and Crafts movement. (Hughes, 2002) Represented in the collection of the Society of California Pioneers, Eugen Neuhaus, a German-born artist who arrived in California just before the earthquake, developed his own version of the decorative style in mural-like landscapes with bold areas of flat color (Baird, 1970).

California impressionism reached its peak of popularity in the years before the Great Depression of 1929 when the art market collapsed along with the rest of the economy (Stern, 2001). After that time, there was growing interest in social realist painting to reflect the struggles of the times and a younger generation of artists began experimenting with abstract painting inspired by subjects beyond landscape (Jones,1996). In the 1960s and 1970s nineteenth-century American art enjoyed a revival and once again California’s majestic and romantic early landscape paintings enjoyed renewed appreciation as the American wilderness was rapidly disappearing from the onslaught of urban development (Baird, 1970).

-Dana Smith, Intern
November 2012


Becker, Donna, transcribed in 2006 from The Bay of San Francisco, Vol. 2 pages 184-185, Lewis Publishing Co, 1892.Lekisch, Barbara 2003. Embracing Scenes about Lakes Tahoe & Donner. Great West Books.Driesbach, Janice T., Harvey L. Jones, and Katherine Church Holland. 1998. Art of the Gold Rush. University of California Press., David W., 1992. Encounters with Paradise: Views of Hawaii and its People, 1778-1941. Honolulu Academy of Arts.
Karlstrom, Paul J. The Grove Encyclopedia of American Art. Vol. 1. Ed. Marter, Joan. Oxford University Press.McGlynn, Betty Hoag. 1986. “The San Francisco Art Association.” In Plein Air Painters of California, ed. Lily, Ruth. Irvine. CA: Westphal Publishing., Eugen. 1931. The History & Ideals of American Art. Stanford University, Calif., Stanford University Press London, H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1931.Palmquist, Peter and Thomas Kailbourn. 2002. Pioneer Photographers of the Far West: A Biographical Dictionary, 1840-1865.Stanford University Press.

St. John, Terry. “The Society of Six” In Plein Air Painters of California, ed. Lily, Ruth. Irvine. CA: Westphal Publishing.

Wilson, Raymond L. 1986. “Towards Impressionism in Northern California.” In Plein Air Painters of California, ed. Lily, Ruth. Irvine. CA: Westphal Publishing.
Art Exhibit Catalogs

Baird, Dr. Joseph A., ed. 1970. Catalog: “A Century of California Painting 1870-1970- Treasures of the Society of California Pioneers.” CA: Crocker-Citizens National Bank.

Baird, Dr. Joseph A. 1964. Catalog: “From Frontier to fire: California Painting from 1816 to 1916.” Art Department, University of California at Davis.

Baird, Dr. Joseph A. 1967. Catalog: “France and California, The impact of French Art and Culture on California.” Art Department, University of California, Davis Campus
Capecci, Gianna, Peter J. Flagg, Drew Heath Johnson, and Patricia Keates. 2005. Catalog: “Treasures of the Society of California Pioneers.” San Francisco: Society of California Pioneers.

Harrison, Alfred, Jr. 2010. Catalog: “Discoveries in California Paintings VII.” San Francisco: The North Point Gallery.

Jones, Harvey L. 1995. Catalog: “Twilight and Reverie – California Tonalist Paintings 1890-1930.” Oakland Museum of Art. (

Jones, Harvey L., editor. 1996. Catalog: “Impressions of California: Early Currents in Art 1850-1950 – Landscape Painters of Northern California 1870-1930.” CA: Irvine Museum. (

Miller, Dwight. 1975. Catalog: “California Landscape Painting, 1860-1885: Artists around Keith and Hill.” Stanford Art Gallery, Stanford University.

Mills, Paul. 1956. Catalog: “Early Paintings of California.” Oakland Art Museum.

Neubert, George W. 1971. Catalog: “Tropical, Tropical Scenes by the 19th Century Painters of California.” The Oakland Museum.

Stern, Jean. 2001. Catalog: “Native Grandeur: Preserving California’s Vanishing Landscapes. – Landscape Painting in California.” Oakland Museumof California. Published by The Nature Conservancy.

Wilson, Raymond L. 1983. Catalog: “A Woman’s Vision: California Painting Into the 20th Century.” San Francisco: Maxwell Galleries.

Chalmers, Clausine. 2012. “The Heart of Bohemia: French Artists in California. Antiques & Fine Art (

Harrison, Alfred C. Jr. June/July, 1989. Collections. Magazine Art of California.

Kruska, Dennis. 2012. Thomas Almond Ayres, 1855. Bulletin, No. 103. California State Library Foundation.

Nolte, Carl. 2005. “Coulter’s ships may come in.” San Francisco Chronicle, July 4, 2005.

Starr, Kevin. July 2011. Early Artists of the Bohemian Club: San Francisco as the Center of West Coast Art. Resource Library Magazine. ( )

The Call, Vol. 79, No. 25. San Francisco, Dec. 25, 1895 (

Printed Materials – Society of California Pioneers

Evans, Elliot. 1960 (?) “History of the Collections.” The Society of California Pioneers.

Evans, Elliot A. P. 1955. “A Catalog of the Picture Collections of the Society of California Pioneers.” The Society of California Pioneers.

Haas, Susan. 1999. “Collection Notes.” The Society of California Pioneers.

Olmsted, Nancy. 1971. “The Collections of The Society of California Pioneers.” The Society of California Pioneers.

San Francisco Art Institute - History

After major cuts and criticism from students, some thought SFAI was history, but the 149-year-old art school isn’t giving up.

/>San Francisco Art Institute, Chestnut Street Campus.(Photo courtesy of SFAI)

Just before 3:30 p.m. on Monday, March 23, Gordon Knox, the San Francisco Art Institute’s president, and Pam Rorke Levy, the chair of its Board of Trustees, sent a nine-paragraph email, with a one-word subject line of “Update,” to the school’s students, faculty, staff, and supporters that said the institution was “considering the suspension of our regular courses and degree programs starting immediately after graduation in May of this year.”

The San Francisco Art Institute has operated for 149 years, and the news that it might soon cease to be a degree-granting institution — and soon cease to be the kind of school that attracted a who’s who of faculty (including Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Mark Rothko, David Park, and Joan Brown) and a roster of students who went on to become art-world stars (including Annie Leibovitz, Karen Finely, and Kehinde Wiley) — was one of the most stunning announcements to come out of the San Francisco art world of late.

The seven weeks since that fateful email have been equally tumultuous. The school’s faculty received lay-off notices. Students who were supposed to continue their classes in the fall were told to find another school. And some of these faculty and students — angry at the school’s sudden change of fortunes — accused the administration of incompetence, saying that the school overreached when it went millions of dollars in debt in 2015 to open a campus extension at Fort Mason, and that SFAI’s budget woes, which prompted the March 23 announcement, were partly the school’s own fault.

The school, which has $19 million in debt and annually runs a budget deficit, had 700 students in 2015. Now only about 300 are enrolled. The San Francisco Art Institute’s dwindling student body — a reality that colleges around the United States are also facing — has been exacerbated by San Francisco’s high cost of living, says Levy, who defends the school’s Fort Mason expansion as a then-necessary step to evolve the school’s programs and give graduate students an affordable, nearby space for studios instead of having them trek across San Francisco to 3rd Street, where it runs its 3rd Street Studios Program.

/>San Francisco Art Institute’s Fort Mason Center campus. (Photo courtesy of SFAI)

“Maybe it would have been better not to get Fort Mason,” Levy tells SF Weekly. “But when I think about the alternative, I don’t know that that would have been right either. I think that might have had an even more dramatic effect on enrollment long term.”

Levy and chief operating officer Mark Kushner tell SF Weekly that the San Francisco Art Institute may still continue its longtime role as a degree-granting institution. They also say that a public outpouring of support has raised more than $4 million in the past seven weeks, and that Wiley — whose paintings regularly sell for more than $250,000 — has offered to donate five artworks over five years to raise scholarship money for the school’s most needy students. Future donations and upcoming benefit auctions of artwork by Wayne Thiebaud, Robert Mapplethorpe, and other artists will also bolster the institution’s coffers, and Levy says the school is still considering selling its most valuable possession: A 1931 mural valued at $50 million, The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City, that acclaimed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera painted inside the institution’s longtime Russian Hill campus on Chestnut Street.

“We’d be remiss not to consider it,” Levy says. “Any small institution that has a valuable artwork is always thinking: ‘What would that work buy in terms of generations of students?’”

Levy and Kushner say they’re also considering other options, including turning the San Francisco Art Institute into a school that offers adult-education classes, online classes for students of all ages, or residency-like seminars where artists like Wiley would come in and teach. In other words, the San Francisco Art Institute may reinvent itself as an institution that combines popular art classes for adults (like classes offered by UC Berkeley Extension, Stanford Continuing Studies, and other educational outlets) with both online and in-person classes for students who are interested in a more academic experience.

“It might be that it makes more sense for us to be an artist-in-residency program where we invite Kehinde back and he teaches a master class,” Levy says. “There are all kinds of different permutations that we could look at. We could activate it as a social space, too, that is part of the community. … We teach studio hands-on art in a very personalized environment — a very one-on-one kind of thing. What can that be for other platforms? For other audiences? For adult learners? I take a class every quarter at Stanford Continuing Education, and I’ll probably do that for the rest of my life. Why not bring people to the San Francisco Art Institute to keep taking art classes for the rest of their lives? So really developing those other markets and population in a way that we really haven’t over the last 10-20 years.”

“The downside of being a degree program,” Levy adds, “is that it tends to be insular. This is an opportunity to open it up and enliven it in a way that it was for most of its history.”

From 1871 to 1954, the San Francisco Art Institute didn’t offer degrees, Kushner points out, saying that: “It was an art association. It was for artists. The school has lots of permutations historically and it could be lots of different things in the future. We’re trying to reimagine what does a financially sustainable art college in the 21st century look like? How do we do this for the next 150 years? How do we remain sustainable so we don’t have this annual pain of financial woes?”

One scenario has the school merging with another institution — not another arts campus but one with a broader educational mandate, like a private university — that could let the San Francisco Art Institute continue its degree-granting programs. The school was close to announcing such a merger a few months ago but those talks collapsed amidst the faltering economy, which has been battered by COVID-19-related shelter-in-place shutdowns. Levy says the institute’s administration had no choice but to end the contracts of its some 150 faculty and staff, and to tell students who’d be returning in the fall to find other schools — even though there’s still a chance the San Francisco Art Institute will, at the last minute, retain its degree-granting programs in the fall.

/>Diego Rivera Mural at SFAI’s Chestnut Street Campus. (Photo courtesy of SFAI)

“It’s our intent to offer degree classes,” Kushner says, “but we’re working with the accreditation and other people to understand what that means. So that’s a ‘TBD.’ We’re certainly offering art classes and art instruction. We have a number of professors who want to teach next year, and one of the positions is endowed. We’re looking into, ‘What is a degree program? And what is an accredited program?’ So that’s also still up in the air. … It’s my intent to offer degree programs, but that remains to be seen.”

Regardless, some students and faculty say the administration’s past and current actions reflect a shortsighted view of the school’s mission — and that even since the March 23 announcement, the school has bungled its outreach to students and faculty, creating a level of mistrust that they say was unnecessary and that has tamped down any good will for the institution. One example, they say: To raise money, the administration is trying to rent out the school’s 67,000-square-feet Fort Mason space, where many graduate students still have their artwork — but, they say, the administration has ignored their requests for timely updates about the possible rental, and that such a rental might force students during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders to retrieve their belongings. Many students would prefer to keep their artwork at Fort Mason during the period of mandatory shelter-in-place.

“Our issue is that the school seems to be choosing this one avenue of funding, which will actually harm its own students by forcing us to move out in the middle of the pandemic,” says Evan Pettiglio, who completed an MFA in studio art this semester. “As opposed to choosing other routes to generate funding that don’t require more than 100 students to come maybe within a week of each other to move out a massive amount of belongings from the building, which could put all of us at risk.”

Students also say the administration mishandled an opportunity to help non-graduating students transfer to other schools. “They told us from the get-go, ‘You guys should just transfer out to different schools.’ But the administration gave us little to no help or direction in terms of making that transition more smoothly,” says Cardamom Blue, who’s one of three SFAI students who’ve formed a protest group called the Extra Action Revolutionary Group, which says the school’s administration should be held more accountable for SFAI’s financial failings and should be more transparent with students, faculty, and staff about how it’s planning to rectify the school’s finances and move forward with classes.

“There was no excuse for them not to jump on that and help out their student body,” Blue says.

Blue, who this semester earned an undergraduate degree at SFAI, is giving a video commencement address to the school’s virtual graduation that’s scheduled for May 16. A few weeks ago, Blue and the group’s other members flung a protest banner across the closed doors of SFAI’s Chestnut Street campus that read, “Here lies San Francisco’s Top Art School, RIP, 1871-2020.” Blue and the group’s other members say that the school’s security guards have been told to immediately call police if protestors appear anywhere inside the campus – but they say the group’s actions have galvanized classmates who left the school in frustration soon after the March 23 announcement.

“A lot of (SFAI) students who’ve been displaced outside of the Bay Area are happy and thankful we’re doing something,” says Liz Hafey, a first-year graduate student who’s another member of the Extra Action Revolutionary Group and says she is transferring to another school. “So we’re representing a large amount of our community.”

Kal Spelletich, a longtime artist and adjunct instructor who teaches popular courses in robotics, hacking, and art and technology at the San Francisco Art Institute and who supports the group, says the administration is making its plans without seriously consulting the school’s instructors — though Kushner denies that claim.

“They hold these quasi-town halls asking for opinions but more or less telling us what they’re going to do — or not exactly telling us — and pretending that we have a voice in this,” says Spelletich, who’s known for his early Burning Man art and makes about $5,000 a semester to teach a single class. “I’ve been involved in a lot of actions in city politics and it’s the same thing — they have a decision-making process that you’re not included in. I have a proposal out that I hope Kushner will see we’re floating it around. I’m tapped into the robot art technology scene. Why don’t we turn this into a cutting-edge art and technology school, flip the whole script, have faculty call more shots, be innovative with education, and teach classes this summer? We’re handing them these killer ideas, but we’re getting no response. At least not yet. And people are afraid to talk. And here I am — biting the hand that never fed me very well.”

In the days after the college’s March 23 announcement, many people thought the San Francisco Art Institute was close to shutting down permanently, and multiple media reports broadcast that possibility. Levy and Kushner say that a complete shutdown was never considered. But how the school reinvents itself, and how that reinvention affects current faculty and even the school’s reputation, remains to be seen. And this lingering uncertainty has, for now, cast a pall over the school — even if the San Francisco Art Institute retains its degree-giving programs for both undergraduate and graduate students, and even as Levy, Kushner, and other SFAI administrators say they are doing their best to save the school’s future. Even students who have stuck around and are participating in this month’s virtual graduation are having a tough time celebrating. Instructors are also feeling ostracized.

“There’s no trust — that’s been broken,” says Spelletich, who has taught at the school for 13 years. “Essentially all the faculty has been fired. My contract is up next Wednesday (May 13). They’ve told us our contracts are null and void, or some other terminology — but we’re all out of work. I don’t have a job. I’m going to be 60 this year. Who the hell is hiring some 60-year-old weirdo artist in the midst of a collapsing society? I’m pissed.”

(Kushner says he doesn’t know “exactly when and how many” people will be laid off, but that “we’ll have to eventually lay off faculty and staff.”)

Blue, who is pre-recording the May 16 commencement address, says the address will be positive — despite what Blue calls the school’s attempts to minimize potential student protests. Even with prerecorded parts, the virtual graduation on May 16 is scheduled to be live-streamed on YouTube.

“If we did want to say anything about the school or the administration, we can’t,” Blue says. “They’re making sure that’s completely censored. … They want to make sure there’s nothing averse in my speech, I think. And, in fact, I didn’t address any of this really. I dropped one line about COVID-19 at the very end of it. And I did that because I’m looking at this graduation as a time to celebrate. And I wanted to focus on that, as opposed to all this negativity.”

Dreams aborted

Sick of his sales job, Brandon Schultz decided to finally pursue his dream of becoming a graphic designer in 2008. He enrolled in the Art Institute's online division. "I wanted to get into a field I enjoyed," Schultz, 36, said. "The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, it sounded fancy."

He was soon disappointed to discover how basic the classes were. "It was just a bunch of beginner lessons on how to use these programs," Schultz said. "I never did any graphic design work."

He says communication with professors was sparse and his time with the school's tutors was strictly limited.

"I could only talk to a tutor for so long until they cut me off," he said. "A lot of them couldn't really speak English."

He was just one class shy of graduating with his associate's degree in graphic design, he said, when he received a troubling call from someone at the Art Institute. He was told he was out of loans.

"I got mad," Schultz said. "I was like, 'What are you talking about? You're telling me at the end of all of this?'"

Desperate, he accepted the loan.

"I think schools like that prey on the fact that a lot of people don't get guidance about going to college," Schultz said. "They just do what they need to do to get their degree."

Schultz went on interviews for graphic design positions, but said he was unprepared for the common job tests these employers assign.

Now he strings together a living through odd jobs, such as painting and landscaping, and says there's no way he can repay the more than $80,000 he owes for his time at the Art Institute. He's filed an application with the government, claiming his federal loans should be discharged, but he hasn't heard back.

"All I can do it wait for the government to give me some type of judgement," Schultz said.

In response to a rash of complaints by students that theyɽ been defrauded by their schools, the Education Department under President Barack Obama announced a regulation in 2016 that would establish an administrative process for people to have their federal loans canceled if their school turned out to be predatory.

That rule was set to take effect July 2017.

Just a month before that date, however, an industry group of the for-profit college sector, the California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools, filed a lawsuit with the Education Department, arguing the regulation was outside the government's authority. Soon after, the department announced it was postponing certain provisions of the regulation. A few months later, the department announced yet another delay.

Speaking at a conference, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said that under the current rule, “all one had to do was raise his or her hands to be entitled to so-called free money.”

10 Most Insanely Haunted Places In San Francisco

#10) Neptune Society Columbarium

Photo credit: flickr/sally_mcburney

Just the thought of walking through a graveyard, mausoleum or columbarium is bound to make you shiver.

However, the San Francisco Columbarium, a.k.a. the Neptune Society Columbarium, will send chills down your spine as you walk between the cremated ashes of over 30,000 remains.

Some of these date all the way back to 1898 when the building was part of The Odd Fellows secret society.

While the building’s condition and the remains are enough to spook visitors, there are actually ghosts who restlessly walk around the columbarium.

You can spot one if you head there at night or be one of the few people who actually felt their presence.

A woman who recently took a tour through the Columbarium felt a hand on her back, but didn’t see anyone when she turned around.

However, she discovered a white handprint on her dark blouse when she got home!

#9) Trinity+St. Peters Episcopal Church

As holy as churches may be, they’re one of the favorite places for ghosts.

Trinity+St. Peters Episcopal Church comes to prove this as it’s one of the insanely haunted places in San Francisco.

Church goers have seen a gray figure make its way out of the men’s bathroom only to disappear through a wall on the other side of the hall.

Till date, no one has been able to identify it or find out what made it haunt this specific spot.

While standing at Trinity+St. Peters Episcopal Church, you’re also bound to experience 3 directional drafts, which is weird considering how tightly closed the place is.

You may also notice the shadow of a person dancing on the walls or even be lucky (?) to come across the white suit ghost.

Expect a deathly stare and sinister face to meet your eyes.

Like the gray figure, the reason he haunts the church is unknown.

#8) Alcatraz

Photo credit: flickr/JaveFoto

A formidable federal penitentiary in the past, Alcatraz continues to scare those coming to it.

Visit this haunted prison in San Francisco and you’ll hear the sounds of men in heated conversations, moans, sobs, screams, and clanging metal doors.

There are also stories of an entity called ‘The Thing’, which has glowing eyes and a terrible smell.

These are nothing, though, compared to the ghosts of Alcatraz themselves.

Photo credit: Matthew Christopher

If you really want to send chills down your spine, head to D-Block.

Known as the most haunted block in all the prison, it’s where the worst inmates used to be locked up.

Even when Alcatraz was functional, the toughest criminals would scream for help.

Some say that a 19 th century prisoner used to kill inmates there, adding their spirits to those already imprisoned there forever.

Go on a tour and stop by cells 12 and 14D for a truly haunting experience… if you dare!

#7) The Sutro Baths

The Sutro Baths are now ruins of what was once a large public saltwater swimming pool complex.

Burned down by a mysterious fire in the 1960s, today the Sutro Baths are haunted by the spirits of those who enjoyed its facilities the most in their lives.

You can easily spot them by their clothing, especially during nighttime as San Francisco’s weather then makes it unusual for people to flaunt sun dresses and swimming pants.

In most cases, the ghosts will ignore you.

It would seem that they’re stuck in a loop, reliving the heyday of the Sutro Baths.

You may even hear laughs and singing if you concentrate enough.

Even if you don’t believe in ghost stories, we urge you not to venture into the tunnels on your own.

The entity behind the claw marks throughout the tunnel system may not be as harmless as the ghosts on top.

#6) Golden Gate Park

Photo credit: flickr/good_dood

Golden Gate Park is truly one of the insanely haunted places in San Francisco as it has THREE entities waiting to interact with the living.

The first comes from the Lady of the Lake story that many locals are familiar with.

The barefooted, fair-haired ghost in a dirty white dress is constantly looking for her baby who had rolled into the lake and drowned while she was busy chatting with another woman.

If you want to make your heart skip a beat for a second, watch out for the white lady near the Pioneer Women and Children statue.

While the ghost is active, the statue moves!

It comes to life and its expression changes.

Sometimes, its face changes shape or its arms or head disappear!

Just make sure you don’t get caught by the ghost cop of Golden Park Gate.

After dying on duty at the park, he tends to roam around and issue tickets to those committing traffic violations.

If you come across him, head out of the park immediately!

#5) UCSF Medical Center

The UCSF Medical Center is bustling with energy by day but come night, the long, lonely hallways become cold and eerie with all the ghosts gliding down them.

You may come across the women who died in childbirth as they peek into the rooms of patients on the 15 th floor, which is where the Intensive Care Nursery used to be.

Some new mothers have been attacked there by malevolent entities who hated them for surviving labor.

The 8 th floor is the creepiest though.

Formerly the pediatric unit of UCSF Medical Center, the spirits of children haunt the place.

They used to play pranks on other patients there, many of which led to a few deaths.

As a result, the whole floor had to be exorcised.

Still, some of the younger ghosts linger on, frightening the staff, patients, and others seeking to connect with them.

#4) The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge

Photo credit: flickr/exxonvaldez

The SF Bay Bridge has a couple of ghosts who are out to get those driving across.

There are even recent paranormal reports that come from people walking the new Bay Bridge on the Oakland side.

The first ghost is that of a man wearing a 40s style hat and raincoat.

Legend has it that his car broke down in 1948 on the San Francisco bridge side and was run over as he was walking to a phone booth.

If you ever spot him, make sure to look at him out of the corner of your eye.

He’ll disappear if you look at him directly.

If you don’t get to see him, you’ll definitely come across the headless man.

Possibly the victim of the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989, he tends to sneak into the back seat of unsuspecting drivers.

If you don’t see him but hear knocking on your car’s windows while driving on the lower deck, it’s maybe the Bay Bridge Troll.

In charge of guarding the bridge, locals say it used to reside in the 18-inch iron sculpture, but now hides away from the direct sun under the shallower waters of the bay.

#3) San Francisco Art Institute

Photo credit:

The Art Institute of San Francisco has been haunted for decades.

The ghosts of the Russian Hill cemetery it was built on were angry after their forever home was disturbed.

Their screams and angry voices can be heard throughout the campus.

Many students have been terrified by the sounds of footsteps following them after the lights turned off suddenly.

You may want to stay away from the school’s tower.

There’s an evil presence there that has been known to cause health issues, personal problems, and bring on accidents.

The spirit interfered with the tower’s construction through these, screaming at times to scare off workers or breaking furniture to show its anger.

A séance in the tower revealed that there are multiple ghosts behind the hauntings there.

So, head to San Francisco Art Institute cautiously.

#2) The Donaldina Cameron House

Photo credit: flickr/mdalton

Donaldina Cameron was an angel for hiding Chinese immigrants forced into prostitution and slavery in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

However, burning her house along with the immigrants seeking refuge there has made this a real haunted house and one of the most haunted places in SF.

Currently a church and family service agency, the building is littered with gold and red charms that are supposed to ward off evil spirits.

Try taking a picture there and you may notice white figures floating in the background.

This is because the spirits of the women who died there in the fire never left.

Joining the women’s spirits are the ghosts of the Chinese boys who were sexually abused between 1947 and 1977.

While the Cameron House was a Presbyterian Mission, Reverend F.S. “Dick” Wichman abused the children and the enslaved Chinese women and, at times, killed them.

You can easily hear the cries of children coming from the basement during quiet nights, but that’s if you’re allowed to stay there.

#1) Mary Ellen Pleasant Park

Photo credit: Google Earth

Mary Ellen Pleasant Park is the smallest park in the city, but one of the spookiest considering who haunts it:

The Mary Ellen Pleasant ghost.

In life, Mary Ellen Pleasant was an activist who secretly sheltered people escaping slavery and found them new jobs.

Listed as a capitalist in 1890 census, she gained a reputation as a voodoo priestess as many of her colleagues, several clients, and even her Caucasian lover died suddenly and without a known cause.

However, with no evidence tying her to these deaths, Mary wasn’t convicted of crime.

If you think you’re brave enough to meet up with Mary Ellen, seek her spirit and call her name.

Just make sure to not say anything bad about her or else she’ll push you or drop something on your head.

Be especially wary of crows or sounds near the trees and bushes as these indicate that she’s nearby.

Curiously, some locals say that you can have her grant you a wish or favor, but only if you ask her nicely.

Choosing A Haunted Place to Visit

Ready to visit one, or more, of these haunted spots?

Second, round up your posse and check out the places on this list.

And be careful not to anger any of the spirits…otherwise you may never make it home.

Watch the video: Мой университет в Сан Франциско