Gentrifried Interview – Spencer Keeton Cunningham


Our man Spencer Keeton Cunningham recently launched his latest show, Gentrified, with artists Erlin Geffrard, Daisy Ortiz, Daylin Ra, Jaque Fragua, Robin Birdd, and Don’t Fret. We get the inside scoop with Cunningham, interviewed by Erlin Geffrard…


Erlin Geffrard: Tell me a little about this show…

Spencer Keeton Cunningham: This show is an art exhibit at the Luggage Store Gallery that focuses on the topic of Gentrification in San Francisco right now. Artists include: Erlin Geffrard, Myself, Daisy Ortiz, Daylin Ra, Jaque Fragua, Robin Birdd, and Don’t Fret (an artist brought in from Chicago)

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E: Where were you before coming to SF to be a part of this show?

SKC: I was actually just up in British Columbia installing an art exhibit called, “The Dust of the World Collects in My Skull.” Before that I was exploring some mountains north of there.


E: What did Jaque Fragua say about this show?

SKC: “Gentrification is the new form of colonization”


E: What is the meaning of the word GENTRIFRIED?

SKC: The title of the exhibit “Gentrifried” is pretty self explanatory. It speaks to the victims of gentrification in a sense. We set up a little narrative that the people, artists, musicians, and lower income communities are treated with little respect and are a by product of the current influx of tech company employees forcing out the communities that have been here for a long time. Being fried in a sense. The title is quite esoteric really when you think about it.

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We wanted to focus on the idea of gentrification on a broader level and a more simple level. To me when Europeans first came to this continent to steal, rape and pillage they could be historically recognized as the very first gentrifiers in a way. The native land that was stolen is still native land. And as it has a tendency to do from time to time, history repeats…


E: Tell me a little bit more about the moon..

SKC: Ok. Within the walls of the Luggage Store the moon sits 2 stories above 6th and market street. This moon is marked with cave paintings, symbols, references to another world, a place people left after they were evicted from everywhere else on earth. The rough edges and cardboard construction give light that this moon resembles almost a homeless shelter in a sense.


E: How do you feel about SF after being gone and returning here?

SKC: To be totally honest. Slightly disturbed. Especially with what is happening right now in city hall. No offense to Jeremy Fish (who just did a residency there) but SF doesn’t have much to be proud about no matter how much city hall pays an artist to create works about their history.

San Francisco is founded on the blood of native people, and poor communities, the tale to be told about SF is corruption both current and historic. Theres a lot of denial here and now its been blanketed by a cloud of tech companies that have moved in and kicked out the communities that were here before them.

Some friends and I chose in this time to focus a show on Gentrification in a humorous light in SF to give people a chance to view what artists from the area and even from another city think about this current problem.


E: Can you describe some of the works and installations briefly in the exhibit?

SKC: Yes. Robin Birdd has created an immaculate fabric based installation focusing on some feminine body parts that have a deep meaning. Don’t Fret has created many many works focusing in on various themes and built a bodega setting in the lower part of the luggages store. Daisy Ortiz has created some amazing fabric works as well as one feminine black hole weaved from garbage bags and other found materials.

Jaque Fragua’s (a native artist originally from New Mexico) installation hints at the exploitive tourism industry in the southwest of the United States and all over America and references re-interpretations of old signs that have been re-appropriated with witty refreneces to native culture and exploitation. Erlin Geffrard’s work brings you in to a a textured world where children have began to take over the city towering over large skyscrapers and freeways like giants reaping havoc on an apocalyptic future like city scape.


E: Anything else you would like to highlight or say about the show?

SKC: I would like to say to the public of SF, If your interested in seeing the peoples history of SF and fight against injustice don’t go to city hall go to the luggage store gallery and check out Gentrifried. You can bring the whole family. It may be a serious topic but we wanted to make the show fun. And thats what art should be even when its time to take on an issue people like to overlook and sweep under the rug.


Photos courtesy of: Frances Ancheta, Michelle Pezel, Paulina Campos Hierro

Gentrified install video