Leading up to Making a Scene: 50 Years of Alternative Spaces, a visual art exhibition with accompanying events that spotlights a rich history of Bay Area artist-run, independent and alternative spaces, intern Michael Fontana talked with Irene Hernandez-Feiks, founder and CEO of Wonderland SF, about their role and identity as an alternative art space, and the general relevance of alternative art spaces to the Bay Area art scene.
[Michael Fontana] What is the importance of supporting local artists in the dynamic context of the Bay Area and its art scene?
[Irene Hernandez-Feiks] Local artists have been what make our city truly diverse and interesting. That was the reason people came to visit our city or moved here; art has brought different cultures together. It was part of our economy. Our artists pushed the boundaries, and are truly experimental; they are thought provoking. We made our art community our priority so please support us. Now with the local prevalence of technology we need to find a way to protect them.
[MF] What is central to Wonderland SF’s identity as an alternative space?
[IHF] For Wonderland SF, it is really important that we do not lose our art community. It is important to not sell out and to really allow artists to do their thing, inspire people, and get them excited. We want artists to be themselves and to make you feel something, whether you like it or not. We are trying to keep artists in the city and not pushed out. We also want to show the newcomers the importance of keeping our artists here in the city, of finding a way to work together, to be inspired by them, and to want to support them. I want people to find each other and collaborate with each other.
[MF] How would you characterize the impact of Wonderland SF on its local community?
[IHF] We have been supporting local artists for 15 years. We are staying true to our original concept while at the same time evolving and seeing how we can work with technology, and support and help each other out. We all have to evolve, grow with the time and make sure art stays relevant in this city.
[MF] What is the relevance of alternative spaces to the context of the Bay Area art scene historically and contemporarily?
[IHF] The relevance is the opportunity to create opportunities for artists and expose other people to amazing things, to grow and learn. To be inspired. To mixed different worlds. To do amazing things that no one has ever done before, to think outside the box….
The exhibition: Making a Scene: 50 Years of Alternative Spaces is on view from July 9th – August 20th, 2015.
About the Author:
Michael Fontana is a Communications Intern for SOMArts Cultural Center and a undergraduate student at Oberlin College.
Pictured above: Summer’s New Dream by Sergio Lopez, Where Wonder Hides, Wonderland SF’s 5th year anniversary show, April 22nd, 2015