Mission & Vision
SOMArts leverages the power of art as a tool for social change through multi-disciplinary events and exhibitions. Equipping artists with the space, mentorship and support they need to shift perspectives and innovate solutions, SOMArts fosters access to arts and culture for collective liberation and self-determination.
SOMArts prioritizes supporting artists who have been historically marginalized in contemporary art. By partnering with diverse artists and curators, we are able to produce multi-disciplinary events and exhibitions that are truly embedded in the communities they serve.
The SOMArts Curatorial Residency program is a unique opportunity for emerging artists to execute their big vision for SOMArts’ Main Gallery space. The support provided by the Curatorial Residency enables artists to continue their professional development, form new creative partnerships, and engage community members through innovative public programs.
SOMArts partners with curators Rio Yañez, Karen Seneferu and Melorra Green for our annual Día de los Muertos and The Black Woman is God exhibitions. We also curate an annual Summer Showcase exhibition in partnership with a rotating guest curator on social issues that are timely and relevant for the Bay Area communities we represent.
Supporting Bay Area Artists and Changemakers
In addition to our creative programs, SOMArts’ Fiscal Sponsorship Program provides administrative and fundraising support to 10–15 artist-led projects.
The SOMArts Rental Program offers below-market rental space and production assistance to over 100 non-profits annually, hosting their exhibitions, performances, and events in our unique
Board & Staff
Maria Jenson‘s career reflects a combination of her interests in arts and civic engagement as well as a passion for supporting strong creative communities. She relocated to the Bay Area from Los Angeles in 2009 to participate in the special kind of community building engendered by this unique region. Believing that the Bay Area radiates significant change into the global culture, and that arts are central to a strong and thriving community, Maria is proud to serve the Bay Area arts community in her role as Executive Director of SOMArts Cultural Center.
As Executive Director, Maria manages fundraising and grant making activities, supports new and experimental performances and programs, and collaborates on external partnerships and special initiatives. Prior to joining SOMArts, Maria was a key member of the External Relations team in the Marketing and Communications Division managing the transition, rebranding and reopening of SFMOMA during the museum’s $300 million expansion. At SFMOMA, she worked across all departments as a lead project manager on marketing and engagement initiatives and she launched innovative community partnerships as the museum’s Cultural and Civic Ambassador. Maria produced the museum’s Economic and Cultural Impact study in collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group.
Maria was the Founding Director of ArtPadSF — an independent art fair launched in 2010 in partnership with Chip Conley, a top Bay Area business leader and noted author. ArtPadSF transformed the Phoenix Hotel into an immersive and interactive platform to engage Bay Area artists, gallerists and art lovers, and enjoyed a successful three-year run.
Prior to ArtPadSF, Maria launched and managed Salon Oblique in Venice, CA, a boutique art salon/gallery, and has written and directed theater in Los Angeles and spent years in dance, theater and film. Consequently, she sees community building as a “theater” of civic activity: a place where the various participants – artists, business people, academics, critics and the public – can perform meaningfully in the dance of culture.
Maria has received critical notice for her work in the arts. She was the recipient of the 2017 San Francisco Arts Institute Disruptor Award in recognition of her leadership to advance equity in the arts. She is on Culture Type’s list of “Curators and Cultural Leaders to Watch in 2016”, and she received an award for her service on the Yerba Buena Business Cultural District’s board. Maria is active with Arts for a Better Bay Area (ABBA) an advocacy coalition where she works with colleagues at other arts organizations in the region on education, advocacy and inclusion issues as they relate to arts, economic and community-building endeavors.
Maria regularly serves as a guest speaker and panelist.
Creative Programs Staff
Event Rentals & Facilities Staff
- Katie Gilmartin
- Dion Reiner-Guzman
- Cathie Anderson, Building Manager & Technician
- Natalee Decker, Building Manager & Technician
- Colin Johnson, Building Manager & Technician
- Veronica Simonetti, Building Manager & Technician
SOMArts Board of Directors
- Michele Carlson, Interim Board President, Executive Director, Art Practical
- Nathan Yergler, Vice President/Secretary of the Board, Software Architect, PlanGrid
- Peter Sizgoric, Board Treasurer, Vice President of Corporate Development, RPX Corporation
- Nare Aleksanyan, Board Member, Law Clerk, DLA Piper LLP
- Mike Anderson, Board Member, Director of Finance, McKesson
- Alex Cook, Board Member, Digital Product Management, @WalmartLabs
- Devra Davis, Board Member, Senior Product Counsel, StubHub Inc.
- Sally Hansen, Board Member, CPA, Burr Pilger Mayer
- Jane Hu, Board Member, Photographer
- Rina Marfatia, Board Member, Physician, Tamalpais Internal Medicine & Marin General Hospital
- Sylvette Sawyers, Board Member, VP of Talent Acquisition, Opendoor
- Luke Spray, Board Member, Corridor Manager, Portola Neighborhood Association