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Matinee: Carson Lancaster as 'The Gallerist' Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

3 September 2016

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 151st in our series of Saturday matinees today: Carson Lancaster as The Gallerist.

The video, which is very nicely produced, starts with sirens and Lancaster asking, "How do you find beauty in a place that a normal person would find depressing and insane?"

The answer is not to judge. Understand rather than reject. "You can find beauty in anything and those who do are often happier people," he says.

"The Tenderloin is the greatest neighborhood in San Francisco," Lancaster goes on. "It is the most interesting, most diverse, loudest, the most colorful, the most beautiful neighborhood in all of the city. And in my opinion the last vestige of real San Francisco culture."

Well, no. He's laying it on more than a bit thick there. But, like any San Franciscan, he loves his neighborhood. It's beautiful in his eyes. And well worth a little hyperbole.

'How do you find beauty in a place that a normal person would find depressing and insane?'

Among San Francisco's neighborhoods, the Tenderloin sits west of Union Square and east of Civic Center in about 50 square blocks. If it's famous for anything, it's famous for its crime rate but poverty and drug use have been high up there. Its saving grace, if it has one, is its relatively lower rents which invite new populations that are not the least interested in the status quo but in a fresh start.

That may sound as if it's a place to be avoided. But we've actually been in and out of the neighborhood over the years for all sorts of things, including fine dining, theater, favorite pubs and auto repair (more times than we'd like to count). And these days it's making waves as a haven for young practitioners of the fine arts.

So we recognized a fellow resident in Carson Lancaster who narrates this film about his Book and Job Gallery on Geary at Hyde, which he established in 2012. The Gallery is open on Thursday through Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m.

Nikki Greene interviewed Lancaster in 2012 when the gallery opened. He confessed to leaving Sonoma State University, where he'd started his general studies, and then the Academy of Art, where he studied photography. He moved to the Tenderloin and found a good-paying job editing event photography late at night.

He had some money but he wasn't happy. He wondered how he could make his mark in the community. He found the answer listening to his friends and fellow artists. Shut out of the downtown galleries, they needed a gallery of their own to showcase their work. So he opened Book and Job Gallery.

And that's how things happen in San Francisco.

He's been there four years now. And it blows people's minds when they find out, he says. "How do you survive?" they ask.

He's got skin in the game, to put it simply. He lives there.

He knows the ugly. He sees the beauty. He makes life there better than it was before he moved in. Just the kind of neighbor anyone would want. And one we're glad to have.

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