A Tree Grows in the Dogpatch
Located in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco, Treehouse Gallery is part of a movement of contemporary artistic practice that reconsiders the gallery space as a place for community dialogue. Treehouse does more than showcase the artworks of local, up-and-coming artists. This community space houses workshops, an urban garden, a collective kitchen for cooking demonstrations, and a yoga studio.
On May 22nd, 2010 the Treehouse Gallery opened its doors to over 175 bay area residents. According to founder Hadass Gerson, "the goal was to experiment with a new model of exhibition in which the artist defines the conditions for sharing art with an audience." The idea for Treehouse came about collectively the same way that most great ideas are birthed: "We would get together for dinners or coffee and talk about how we were working on becoming less reliant on huge companies to grow our food, how accomplished we felt making a whole meal out of local food that we could grow in a small plot of land in our back yard with just seeds and some dedicated work. We would discuss how seeing new artwork could be like a window into a deeper discussion about life. We taught each other how to do new things and in doing so, learned how to be more capable members of society."
The traditional white cube has been remodeled at Treehouse Gallery. The inviting, cozy space encourages creativity and community education through artistic practice and a welcoming environment. Contrary to the stark, "look-but-don't-touch" aesthetic of traditional art spaces, Treehouse welcomes viewer participation.
The most unique feature of the 1,000-square-foot, turn-of-the-century industrial space is its versatility. The space seamlessly transforms from a studio where Silent Lounge Yoga classes take place to a space for poetry readings and community discussion. The urban garden and community kitchen work in unison as a space to prepare locally sourced treats for art openings and events.
Treehouse hosts a number of workshops pertinent to urban living like the recent, "Pallet Planter Workshop," led by artist Mark Campos, which taught participants how to build a vertical garden planter out of found shipping pallets. Another group discussion titled "Vermiculture Permaculture" encouraged conversation about the benefits of worms to urban gardens.
"Through hands on instruction sessions, participants and instructors transform the TreeHouse urban garden space into a living classroom. Gardening classes tackle creative solutions to urban space limitations, food scrap composting, year round mini- hothouse vegetable and herb gardens, and plant growth cycles."
The founders of Treehouse are responding to the undeniable movement of social consciousness in many cities around the United States, particularly, San Francisco. Gerson states, "It is exceptionally apparent that our generation is working to carve out our path forward for sustainable living."
"We are poets, web designers, social workers, teachers, chefs, bartenders, wedding planners, students, waiters, carpenters, landscapers, psychologists, nurses and artists, all performing our slightly choreographed but mostly improvised roles as arbiters of creative expression as we see it reflected in our very exacting cultural moment," says Gerson.