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article imageArt fund-raiser is at the Heart of San Francisco's North Beach Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Feb 14, 2013 in Entertainment
San Francisco - When tourists come to San Francisco's North Beach area they usually are drawn by the food. Yet more seasoned visitors know of the area's unique history as an art, literary and music center.
This Valentine's Day weekend, Thursday, Feb. 14 to Saturday, Feb. 16, North Beach Citizens will be having their annual art show benefit at the Live Worms Gallery on Grant Ave.
"The exhibition benefits North Beach Citizens, a non-profit organization that utilizes the talents of the North Beach community to innovatively address the needs of its homeless and low-income citizens in an atmosphere of trust, integrity, and respect," said Kristie Fairchild, Executive Director.
Participating Artists were asked to depict the “heart” of North Beach through their artwork, as the exhibit's theme. "The opening reception on Valentine’s Day is a celebration of the things we love about North Beach; from the people, places, memories, impressions, history, and activist nature of the community," said Fairchild.
graphic design by Elizabeth Ashcroft
graphic design by Elizabeth Ashcroft
Courtesy of North Beach Citizens
She is hoping the art show will help raise awareness of the needs of the homeless that often gather in North Beach. More than 15 years ago, when residents and merchants were becoming alarmed at the increase of homelessness in the neighborhood, filmmaker and North Beach native, Francis Ford Coppola spear-headed an effort to help and from that North Beach Citizens was formed.
In 2011 for instance, North Beach Citizens has assisted approximately 400 homeless and low-income people through crisis outreach programs and food pantry services. Some of the outreach is conducted through the center itself, as homeless and low-income people visit the center and are provided counseling and care to help meet their immediate or emergency needs. Each year the number increases as the needs of the homeless continue, especially since the onset of the economic recession in 2008.
While the needs at times can be overwhelming, North Beach Citizens keeps in focus its guiding principle, "Changing the face of North Beach one Citizen at a time."
This is why Fairchild and her staff take great care to ensure the quality of the assistance and follow up for each person in their outreach is of the highest standard. The outreach North Beach Citizens does is to help form and rebuild a sense of community with the people they serve by asking the local community to help. This collaboration with the community is at "the heart" of the work of North Beach Citizens.
Fairchild and staff also hope the art show will draw attention to its annual "Spring Dinner" celebration fund raiser event scheduled for this coming April. Often referred to as "an Italian Dinner Celebration," in honor of the Italian heritage of North Beach, the eclectic mix of culture and diversity provide North Beach Citizens many reasons to celebrate and collaborate with the community. Art by itself provides an ideal opportunity, especially the role art and literature played in defining North Beach as a distinctive and popular area of the City.
Names like Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg became familiar in their defining of the "Beat Generation" and North Beach was their stomping ground. Even a young-yet-to-be known Janis Joplin was drawn to the area's artistic and creative atmosphere which in the 1950's was part of a wider movement that would later influence "the Hippies" of the following decade.
Along with poetry and music was art. Galleries and artists after WWII became as much a vital part of North Beach as the immigrant workers and their families who settled there at the early beginnings of the 20th Century.
Since the 1950's and '60's, as the area become more of a tourist destination, perhaps because of its "Beat Generation" history, the art gallery scene remained.
The relaxed atmosphere, the home-town feeling of North Beach and of course the food, help make art gallery settings more approachable for visitors. This one reason why Geraldine Arata of Arata Fine Art Gallery set up shop in North Beach for a while. "The area is less pretentious, more down-to-earth and I wanted people to feel at home, and welcome."
Each month Live Worms Gallery among others in the area host art open houses or "art walk tours" of sorts, referred to as "First Friday's." The North Beach area offers a lively art scene for first time visitors as well as season gallery connoisseurs.
Fairchild noted that the featured artists at this year's art exhibit benefit include: Amandalynn, Elizabeth Ashcroft, Genea Barnes, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jack Hirschman, MOMO, and Winston Smith. For more information visit the North Beach Citizens web site.
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