In addition to her artmaking and writing practices, Megan Wilson is a curator. She has been co-director and curator of Clarion Alley Mural Project 2001 - 2005 and 2010 - present. As part of that work, she has curated two international exchange & residency projects between SF/Bay Area and Yogyakarta, Indonesia: Sama-Sama/Together (2003) and Bangkit/Arise (2018/19). Additional curatorial projects have included: 1) Broadside Attractions | Vanquished Terrains, Intersections for the Arts, San Francisco, CA, 2012; 2) Market Street Art In Transit, San Francisco Art Commission, 2003; and 3) Bridges: A Collaborative Project, San Francisco Art Institute’s Artists’ Committee, 1997.
CLARION ALLEY MURAL PROJECT (CAMP):
Wilson has served as co-director and a curator for CAMP for almost 15 years. As part of that work, she has curated two international exchange & residency projects between SF/Bay Area and Yogyakarta, Indonesia: Sama-Sama/Together (2003) and Bangkit/Arise (2018/19). Throughout its history Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP) has used public art as a force for those who are marginalized and a place where culture and dignity speak louder than the rules of private property or a lifestyle that puts profit before compassion, respect, and social justice. Clarion Alley runs one block (560 ft long and 15 ft. wide) in San Francisco's inner Mission District between 17th & 18th and Mission and Valencia streets.
CAMP’s impact and influence have been significant. CAMP has become a highly-sought destination for tourists and locals with over 200,000 visitors each year and ranks higher than the American Conservatory Theater, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Symphony, and Aquarium of the Bay, on TripExpert. Additionally, CAMP has been highlighted in numerous books, including Hollow City by Rebecca Solnit, Staying with the Trouble by Donna J. Haraway, and Street Messages by Nicholas Ganz, as well in publications such as Forbes, The Gurardian, The New York Times, and CNN. CAMP is also featured in: two Netflix series - Sense8 and Girlboss; the film An Examined Life, directed by Astra Taylor; and the music video “Storm” by Lenny Kravitz. CAMP was approached by the authors and/or producers of all the above publications and productions. It is worth considering CAMP’s inclusion in the above taken together as a whole, as it indicates CAMP is viewed as a signifier of contemporary storytelling in urban culture and as helping to lead the movement in the Bay Area in support of social, economic, and racial justice. This distinction is especially impressive given CAMP’s historical position as an all-volunteer artist run space and its organic structure.
From a larger, global perspective Wilson initiated and directed the first and only international public arts exchange and residency at the time (2003) in the San Francisco Bay Area – Sama-Sama/Together. The strength of this effort was recognized in 2013 when the U.S. State Department in collaboration with the San Jose, California arts organization Zero One launched American Arts Incubator, “an international new media and mural arts exchange program to bring community-driven public art projects to underserved communities.”
Bangkit/Arise - International Exchange & Residency Project with Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Bangkit/Arise is an international arts exchange and residency between artists from the San Francisco/Bay Area, USA and Yogyakarta Indonesia. The lead sponsoring organization for Bangkit/Arise is Clarion Alley Mural Project, based in San Francisco in collaboration with the Asian Art Museum Chong Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture. The projects partners in Yogyakarta Indonesia are Desa Panggungharjo and the Institut Seni Indonesia, Yogyakarta.
Bangkit/Arise is one of the first international public arts exchange and residencies from the San Francisco Bay Area developed and designed to include and support families.
In July/August 2018 five of the artists from the SF/Bay Area – Kelly Ording, Jet Martinez, Jose Guerra, Christopher Statton and Megan Wilson arrived in Yogyakarta to spend 5 – 7 weeks as part of the residency exchange. Unfortunately because of greater geopolitical circumstances, two of the Bay Area artists – Shaghayegh Cyrous and Keyvan Shovir were unable travel and to be a part of the first phase of the exchange; however, they are still very much a part of the exchange and will be traveling to Yogyakarta as soon as it is possible.
On September 3rd six of the Yogyakarta artists – Nano Warsono, Bambang Toko, Ucup, Wedhar Riyadi, Vina Puspita and Harind Ndarvati arrived in San Francisco to spend 8 weeks in the Bay Area getting to work with our communities here. Sadly, one of the Indonesian artists – Codit - was unable to be a part of the current residency in San Francisco due to greater geopolitics; however, he too is still part of the exchange and will travel to San Francisco when possible.
Phase Two of the project will take place in the summer of 2019.
Bangkit/Arise is designed to foster discussions, understanding, and action on critical social/political issues facing our global and local communities today using art as a point of departure. Subjects being addressed include:
Community development and the role of art in supporting Civic Design through:
Creating a culture of creativity;
Community building and networking;
The engagement of residents and visitors/tourists; and
Economic growth and livelihood – the creative economy;
The role of the public commons;
Environmentalism and the critical need for a call to action;
Current geopolitical divisions, xenophobia and how we envision a world rooted in social justice, equity, and collaboration;
The need for radical inclusion and understanding differences and similarities as a means of strength and the goal of collectively dismantling local and global inequities/oppression.
In addition, a 250-page, full-color book that chronicles the full project is being produced and published by Semangat! Press.
Sama-Sama/Together - International Exchange & Residency Project with Yogyakarta Indonesia
Sama-sama/Together was an international cultural exchange and residency project between Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP) of San Francisco and Apotik Komik of Yogyakarta, Indonesia initiated and curated by artist, writer, and CAMP co-director Megan Wilson. The project was co-organized by Wilson, writer Ade Tanesia of Yogakarta Indonesia and Kevin Chen, program director of visual arts for Intersection for the Arts.
Sama-Sama/Together Yogyakarta: In July 2003, six artists in conjunction with CAMP (Carolyn Castaño, Carolyn Ryder Cooley, Alicia McCarthy, Aaron Noble, Andrew J. Schoultz, and Megan Wilson) traveled to Yogyakarta, Indonesia to work with artists from the collective Apotik Komik (Samuel Indratama, Arie Dyanto, Nano Warsono, and Arya Panjalu). Over five and a half weeks, the San Francisco artists met several dozen members of the arts and greater community in Yogyakarta and painted large-scale murals throughout the city, had lunch with the Yogyakarta mayor and his staff, and cultivated relationships with the artists from Apotik Komik that became the heart of the project.
In addition to the murals, Apotik Komik arranged for an evening of video works by San Francisco artists Bill Daniels, TWCDC (Together We Can Defeat Capitalism), Vanessa Renwick, and Lisa Swenson/ Megan Wilson/ Gordon Winiemko presented at LIP (the French Cultural Center in Yogya), and exhibition of the San Francisco artists' works (also at LIP), and an exhibition at Via Via Café.
Sama-Sama/Together San Francisco: When the San Francisco artists left Yogya at the beginning of August it was still unclear if the Apotik Komik artists would be granted visas. Following three interviews over the course of several months, they had been told to check the embassy’s Website daily to see if their passport numbers were posted. This was an incredibly stressful time for everyone involved in the project – not knowing if we would be able fully share the experience that we had hoped for together. However, after several more weeks of negotiating though new, stricter immigration laws and working with several key individuals in Nancy Pelosi’s office (thank you Harriet Ishimoto!) and the US embassy in Jakarta (thank you Riley Sever!) the Apotik Komik artists were granted their visas and arrived, exhausted but ecstatic, at SFO International Airport on September 2, 2003.
Following the arrival of Apotik Komik in San Francisco, all of the project artists collaborated on an exhibition at Intersection for the Arts that opened on September 10th and was up through October 25th. Intersection also hosted events at the gallery every Saturday afternoon throughout the exhibition; these included an artists’ talk by Apotik Komik, a talk by Professor Jeff Hadler from UC Berkeley on contemporary Indonesian art from a historical context, a video screening, and an artists’ talk by the San Francisco artists.
The San Francisco and Indonesian artists worked within similar aesthetics and methodologies – producing work influenced by comics and imagery found in the public sphere such as graffiti, advertising, and design with an indefatigable, resourceful, and community oriented approach. Using materials such as wooden pallets, cardboard, and house paint often reclaimed for artistic purposes, all of the artists manifest the inherent potential of these commonplace objects with a distinct handmade approach. Both groups of artists also inhabit the periphery of our modern capitalist world, using a sensibility informed both by social activism, environmentalism and a number of different cultural tools to open, educate, and transform the communities they live in.
BROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS | VANQUISHED TERRAINS - INTERSECTION FOR THE ARTS
Curated by Megan Wilson and Maw Shein Win in collaboration with Kevin Chen and Intersection for the Arts, Broadside Attractions | Vanquished Terrains featured twelve pairs of visual artists and writers creating new collaborative work inspired by the historical broadside and reflections on current events and contemporary culture using the theme of “vanquished terrains” as a point of departure.
Over 2-years in the making and production (2010 - 2012) Broadside Attractions | Vanquished Terrains paid homage to the history of printed matter as a means of public communication, highlighted cross-disciplinary work between artists and writers, and demonstrated a 21st Century reinterpretation of one of the original forms of public communication.
Artist | Writer pairs:
Eliza Barrios | Myron Michael
Paul Bridenbaugh | Steve Gilmartin
Karrie Hovey | Elise Ficarra
Misa Inaoka | Jaime Cortez
Keiko Ishihara | Chaim Bertman
Patricia Kelly | Vince Montague
Dwayne Marsh | Nana Twumasi
Nathaniel Parsons | Ly Nguyen
Christine Ponelle | Annice Jacoby
Matthew Rogers | Maw Shein Win
Megan Wilson | Hugh Behm Steinberg
Liz Worthy | Jenny Bitner
Part One: The Visual Artists provided their writer collaborator with a “playlist” inspired by the theme Vanquished Terrains. The playlist included: One piece of music One movie One location
Part Two: The Writers created a poem or prose up to 1,000 words based on the playlist provided to them by their artist collaborator.
Part Three: The Visual Artists created a 2-dimensional graphic black & white image inspired by the written piece created by their writer collaborator.
Part Four: The written and visual works created in Parts Two & Three were paired together and printed as a traditional broadside. The size of the broadside is 15 by 22 inches.
Part Five: The Collaborative Teams worked together to create a non-traditional interpretation of the broadside, integrating the written text from Part Two.
MARKET STREET ART IN TRANSIT - SAN FRANCISCO ART COMMISSION
In 2002 I was selected to design posters for the San Francisco Art Commission's Market Street Art in Transit Project . In addition, I was asked to sit on the 3-person curatorial panel to select the artists for the 2003/04 awards.
Every year four artists are selected to create six designs (four posters each for a total of 24 posters) that are displayed in the triangular kiosks located on Market Street between Embarcadero and Van Ness Avenue. The kiosk poster series provides an opportunity for artists to reach audiences outside of traditional art venues such as galleries and museums.
For 2003/04 we selected:
Aerial is a interconnected panorama of islands linked to one another with bridges from one poster to the next in a series of six images, creating an above ground view of downtown San Francisco. Each island will support a mixture of architectural, natural and other references to life on Market Street.
Boom Town is a series of paintings in which areas of bold color and pattern reveal objects reflecting the nature of street life on Market Street. This combination of elements allows for a variety of interpretations relating to the social and cultural issues played out daily in the heart of San Francisco.
Nancy Mizuno Elliott
May I Take Your Order? explores the employee subculture of the fast food industry on Market Street. This series offers a glimpse into the inner lives of these often overlooked workers through portraits and excerpts from interviews with employees about their lives outside of work.
Margaret Crane|Jon Winet
The Street , a series of artworks inspired by film posters and film stills, features staged tableau photographs of individuals taken along Market Street. The posters depict the discrete interactions in the life of the street along with lyrical text and practical information about relevant public agencies.
Bridges: A Collaborative Project - San Francisco Art Institute, Walter/McBean Gallery
In 1996/97 I was a member of the San Francisco Art Institute’s Artists Committee. As part of my contribution, I was on the committee that curated the 115th Annual Exhibition in the Walter/McBean Gallery. Other members included Daniel Foster, Anita Margarill, Pamela Pitt, Lori Scruggs, Jennifer Tait, and Victor Mario Zaballa.
The exhibition we curated was titled “Bridges: A Collaborative Project,” artists included:
Stephen Hendee and Peter Cole
Ian Pollack and Janet Silk
Beverly Reiser and Barbara Lee
Laura D. Schultz.
From the catalogue:
Artists have been romanticized as individuals outside of traditional society, isolated from mainstream culture. This exhibition features artists who their intimate creative processes with people and organizations beyond the art community.
These collaborative processes reflect a cross-pollination of disciplines, perspectives, communities, and produce a benign collision of cultures that create unexpected challenges to individual perceptions. The resulting projects are a unique marriage of skill and vision.
-- Curators: Daniel Foster, Anita Margarill, Pamela Pitt, Lori Scruggs, Jennifer Tait, Megan Wilson, and Victor Mario Zaballa
The Annual exhibition is one of the Bay Area’s oldest art traditions. The first Annual was held shortly after a group of artists, writers, and community leaders founded the San Francisco Art Association, the parent of the Art Institute, in 1871. Now in its 115th year, the Annual has shown the work of hundreds of artists, many of whom have become very well known.
The Annual is an exhibition curated by artists – a sub-committee of the San Francisco Art Institute Artists Committee, a group whose membership represents the Bay Area art community. These artists also create the theme and format of the show. This unique collaborative venture between artists and an institution has worn well with the test of time, producing many fine and often astonishing exhibitions.
The early Annuals were large juried exhibitions modeled after the salon-style extravaganza of Paris. In the ensuing decades many formats have been tried., both juried and invitational. The show has been national, regional, and local; it has been presented at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, at the Palace of Fine Arts and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. All have been experiments in the best way to expose new talent, to recognize and reward achievement, and to educate and cultivate audiences for the visual arts. This vital project will continue to evolve with each successful Annual.
-- Jean-Edith Weiffenbach, Director of Exhibitions & Suzanne Dunn, Chair, Artists Committee