ArtHERE: A Matchmaking Service For Urban Spaces And Art

Want to get that unsightly wall by your store covered with something other than graffiti? This new San Francisco service helps connect artists to unconventional canvases around the city.

ArtHERE: A Matchmaking Service For Urban Spaces And Art
Geotgios Karamanis

For every urban space covered in beautiful art, there are dozens of buildings–potential canvasas–lying bare. The Summer of Smart hackathon, a series of three hackathons this past summer in San Francisco that brought together artists, community activists, developers, and urban planners to work on urban problems, may have yielded a solution. One of the hackathon winners has since turned into a real project: ArtHERE, a matchmaking site for spaces (i.e. landlords and property owners) and artists.


The ArtHERE site, which has been in development for months, is starting with locations in Silicon Valley; the rollout is part of the 2012 ZERO1 Biennial, a showcase for work at the intersection of art and technology. ArtHERE is working with ZERO1 to make a number of spaces in San Jose’s SoFA arts district (the Biennial’s hub) available for temporary use by artists who will stick with the Biennial theme of “Seeking Silicon Valley.” The installation sites range from windows and building facades to parklets and outdoor projection sites. Each project will remain installed for three months in the fall.

“We’re using the [Biennial] as a way to launch the site,” says Jennifer Parker, an ArtHERE cofounder and associate professor at the University of California Santa Cruz. “It’s the idea of working with curators to help see the potential of the site as opposed to just launching it hoping that a bunch of individuals would use it.” ArtHERE worked with local businesses and art organizations to find spaces for the Silicon Valley project. A panel of judges–local artists and community members–will decide which projects are commissioned.

One sample site: the Downtown Yoga Shala yoga studio, which has both interior and exterior space. The selected artist will have a $400 budget.

Sound generators from the Drone project.

There is one art project up on ArtHERE at the moment, dubbed Drone. The project, which is intended to be installed at the ZERO1 Garage, will feature sound generators that bring a new acoustical soundscape (one not dominated by traffic noises) into the street.

ArtHERE will open up to the San Francisco community in the next few months, in the hopes that members of the public will facilitiate matchmaking projects of their own. “ArtHERE has intentions to be hands-off on these matches,” says Lauren Sinreich, the research and communications principal at Texture Transcribed and one of the site’s founders.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.