My first career incarnation was as a photographer of Utah’s mountain landscapes in the late 1970s. A few years later, in Portland, Oregon, I adopted the personae of a “decisive moment” street shooter. By 1983, as the reality of my less-than-Cartier-Bresson talents became clear, I began to establish myself as a photography curator and gallery director in San Francisco.

Eye Gallery, 758 Valencia St., San Francisco, ca. 1985

Eye Gallery, 758 Valencia St., San Francisco, ca. 1985

I joined the Eye Photography Gallery as a member of the collective in 1984. At the time I was waiting tables at the Fisherman's Wharf Holiday Inn; as such I had time to hang out at the gallery during the day, and gradually became the most consistent public face of the gallery. I began to write grants and in time Eye received seed money from the Zellerbach Foundation that enabled me to be hired part-time as Administrative Director. The gallery transitioned from a collective to a registered non-profit organization and moved to a more central location on Mission Street between 6th and 7th. I was successful in helping to establish the gallery in its new location, but not wanting to commit to a full-time position I left Eye in 1988 to travel in Europe and take photographs.

My next stop was at San Francisco Camerawork. At the time (1989) Camerawork was the most prominent non-profit photo organization in San Francisco. It was led by Marnie Gillett (pictured right) and she became a mentor and close friend during and after the six years we worked together. It helped that we both smoked at the time... As Associate Director I was production and copy editor for the Camerawork Journal, curated and/or organized many exhibitions, and worked closely with Laura Brun at The Lab to develop two Feminism, Activism and Art conferences. Thanks to Marnie, my time at Camerawork was an incredibly productive learning experience. Most memorable were the culture wars of the early 1990s, my immersion in identity and feminist politics, and my interactions with some of the world's foremost photographers and writers, among them Nan Goldin, Carrie Mae Weems, Deborah Willis, Joel Peter Witkin, David Levi Strauss, Rebecca Solnit, Larry Sultan, and numerous others.

Marnie Gillett at her desk, ca 1995

Marnie Gillett at her desk, ca 1995

Installation view of Nagasaki Journey at the Friends of Photography, San Francisco

Installation view of Nagasaki Journey at the Friends of Photography, San Francisco

Installation of the Burning Man at the SFACG open lot on Grove Street. ca. 1999

Installation of the Burning Man at the SFACG open lot on Grove Street. ca. 1999

I left Camerawork in December 2004 to work full-time on Nagasaki Journey: The Photographs of Yosuke Yamahata, a 50-year commemoration project that resurrected the archive of a Japanese army photographer sent to Nagasaki the day of the atomic attack on that city, August 9, 1945.  I was invited to join the project as exhibition consultant and contributing editor by Christopher Beaver, a film producer who had made an Emmy Award-winning anti-nuclear film called Dark Circle.

My work on Nagasaki Journey lasted until the fall of 1995. Then, I returned to gallery management as director of the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery.  You can find a Powerpoint presentation I made that outlines the SFACG's history and the programming accomplished under my tenure. Click here to see it - if you don't want to, read on!

As SFACG's director and head curator from 1995-2005 I oversaw four municipal exhibition sites – a contemporary gallery in the Veterans Building, community galleries in City Hall, a storefront space for video and sculpture, and an open lot for environmental installations. Philosophically, I believed we should represent the San Francisco community in its broadest interpretation; consequently we represented Burning Man attendees, skateboarders, dozens of ethnic communities, LGBTQ, the blind, and hundreds of individual artists in all genres.

SFACG presented me with a fantastic opportunity to sample San Francisco's amazingly diverse artist and academic communities. It was a difficult decision to make, but after 20+ years I left the city to study for an MBA program at the University of Denver. Follow that thread on the "Denver" page.