Self guided walking tour through lower Polk Gulch.
The lower Polk Tenderloin neighborhood is a transitional area with mom and pop businesses, coffee houses, night clubs, restaurants and a vibrant art scene. Those who walk these streets will be rewarded with street murals by artists not found elsewhere in the City and several excellent art galleries with constantly changing installations of works by emerging and established local and international artists.
The edge of the area is anchored by The iconic Phoenix Hotel on Eddy Street, which attracted David Bowie, Linda Ronstadt and other nationally known entertainers shortly after Chip Conley, owner and founder of Joie de Vivre Hotels first opened it doors. It is the site of ArtPadSF, an art event that attracted more than 9,000 attendees in it’s first show and will be featuring over 40 national and international art galleries in 2013.
Within the confines of the neighborhood are murals by local artists Dray, D Young V, Mars-1, Stanley Keeton Cunningham to name a few and the likes of Cryptic (Los Angeles), Blek le Rat (France), Herakut (Germany), Meggs and Rone (Australia). Sometimes one great piece on the wall is painted over by another piece when an artist is in town for their installation in one of the galleries.
The art galleries change their exhibits frequently and range from art hung on the walls and pieces displayed on the floor to elaborate multi media installations. Most of the galleries have opening receptions, open free to the public with the featured artist there milling about the room discussing their works.
The art galleries tend to have short hours that vary by gallery. Typically they are open from noon up to 7pm Tuesday through Saturday. We encourage you to explore the area during those times to make the most of your time and experience.
Every first Thursday of the month from 6-10pm there is a art walk coordinated by The Lower Polk Art Walk. They update information about the walk every month on their site. Most of the art galleries participate plus other organizations in the neighborhood.
For anyone interested in old cars and motorcycles, the Academy of Art has an auto collection of 135 cars, which Richard A. Stephens, the former president of Academy amassed over the years. Some of the classics include Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Cadillac, Rolls Royce, Indian Motorcycle. There is a small admission to the collection which supports charity. Tours are offered only a few days a week and can be scheduled on their site Auto Museum
Where to find the art
Click on Polk Gulch for a sneak preview of what might be there. Most of the art is along Polk from Bush to Turk and in some of the alleys between Polk and Larkin streets.