Speak Your Peace Exhibition

What: Speak Your Peace exhibition
Where: SOMArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan St. (between 8th and 9th) San Francisco, CA
When: January 4–24, 2013. Gallery hours: Tuesday–Friday, 12–7pm, and Saturday 12–5pm.
How Much: The exhibition and all accompanying events are free and open to the public.

SOMArts Cultural Center presents Speak Your Peace, a group exhibition open January 4 through 24, 2013, curated by SOMArts’ Curator & Gallery Director Justin Hoover. Opening with a reception on Friday, January 4, 2013, 6–9pm, the exhibition brings together Bay Area-based painters, digital, video and installation artists ranging in age, ethnicity and nationality to explore intercultural communication and social justice and propose new iconographies of peace through visual art.

Included works by more than 20 artists and organizations present cycles of destruction and reconstruction through Japanese-American symbols of identity, draw upon traditional and symbolic Persian and Iranian cultural iconographies, debate the value of the prison-industrial complex in the United States, reinterpret historic narratives relating to Salvadorian military histories, expose stories of radical, personal self-expression in the face of persecution through Persian-influenced graffiti installations and discuss the manifold ways popular media informs the way we envision and discuss peace.

“Seeing Peace,” an ongoing project by featured artist, activist and San Francisco native Richard Kamler, inspires the curatorial concept as well as satellite and gallery components for the exhibition. For Speak Your Peace, Hoover builds upon Kamler’s practice of pairing established contemporary artists with highly visible public space in an effort to collectively, publicly and imaginatively define peace.

 “Street level curating, such as for corporate billboards, enables artists to work in new ways, at new scales and at new levels of visibility and allows the work to confront the public instead of being cloistered inside a gallery or museum. To a degree, billboard installations democratize the architecture of public iconographic discourse and penetrate the ubiquity of commercial iconography.” – Justin Hoover

Five newly commissioned, large-scale, digitally printed banners feature new work by Victor Cartagena, Ala Ebtekar, John Halaka and Taraneh Hemami as well as Evan Bissell, whose image was selected through a public open call issued by SOMArts in October 2012 to artists living in San Francisco, Alameda or Contra Costa counties.

Additionally SOMArts funds the printing of two images for public display in billboard advertising space donated by CBS Corporation. This pair of billboards (pictured above) at the intersection of 4th and Brannan Streets in San Francisco will exhibit “Ascension” by Ala Ebtekar and “Can I Tolerate Intolerance” by Uzi Broshi, December 10, 2012 through January 10, 2013.

Free to attend accompanying events include:


Opening Reception with Performances
Friday, January 4, 2013, 6–9pm, free admission
Click here to learn more.


Life and Death: A Community Conversation on Capital Punishment
Thursday, January 10, 2013, 6–8pm, free admission
Click here to learn more.


Closing Reception with Curatorial Walk-through and Panel Discussion
Thursday, January 24, 2013, 6–9pm, free admission
Click here to learn more.

In the gallery Kamler’s “Last Supper” and “Waiting Room,” a sculptural table made of led and gold leaf and a large-scale led and acrylic sculptural installation with projected video, investigate capital punishment in the United States prison-industrial complex and communication failures both personal and societal.

A highly chromatic graffiti installation by Iranian born artists CK1 and Shaghayegh Cyrous reinterprets peace through the lens of Persian graphic and street art. Additional painters include Berkeley artists Betty Nobue Kano and Evan Bissell. “Seeing Peace” by Kano, is a mixed media painting with origami overlays in which broken promises, remembrance and forgiveness take the form of torn and mended canvas. “Meditations,” a series of four oil paintings by Bissell, depicts hands clutching symbolic prayer beads created from corn, shells, pennies, bottle caps and worn pencils.

South African-born artist Clinton Fein, whose video screens in the gallery annex, uses actors and staged sets to recreate infamous torture scenes from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and asserts that violence must not be ignored or forgotten in the pursuit of peace.

Additionally Speak Your Peace includes photography and text-based installations from local arts education projects through Institute on Aging’s Center for Elders and Youth in the Arts, managed by Jessica McCracken.  Featured in the exhibit are works created in IOA arts classes led by Silvi Alcivar from The Victorian Manor Poets in collaboration with Creative Arts Charter School, Coronet Center Philosopher Poets and 30th Street Poetas.  Also on display are visual art prints created in IOA arts classes under the lead of artist Kelvin Ming Young at TODCO, a South of Market senior community.

Exhibiting artists include:

Richard Kamler
30th Street Poetas
Silvi Alcivar
Tressa Berman and the Institute for Inter-Cultural Practice
Amirhossein Bayani
Evan Bissell
Uzi Broshi
Victor Cartagena
Coronet Center Philosopher Poets
Nestor Casco
Peyman Shafieezadeh
Shaghayegh Cyrous
Eldergivers: Art With Elders at Laguna Honda Hospital
Ala Ebtekar
Clinton Fein
Sevetta Gay
John Halaka
Taraneh Hemami
Betty Nobue Kano
Ida Marksman
David Ratliff
The Victorian Manor Poets in collaboration with Creative Arts Charter School

Image above: “Ascension” by Ala Ebtekar (top billboard) and “Can I Tolerate Intolerance” Uzi Broshi (bottom billboard), photo by Nina Swiderski