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Utopia on Market Street? A San Francisco art exhibit explores the possibilities

Bangkok Coffee, 2012

There’s talk that we’re in the midst of a second tech boom in San Francisco. Twitter is opening its new headquarters in the Central Market district and residents are buzzing about what’s to come. Mayor Ed Lee has been courting start-ups since he came into office, hoping they’ll bring thousands of new jobs to the city. But many contend there’s an unwanted side effect: the boom has been pushing up already high rent and property values, and it’s threatening to push out many low-income residents living downtown.

For now, mid-market is still something of a sore point for city hall – dotted with abandoned storefronts and adult theaters. It’s been that way for generations, as noted three years ago by then Mayor Gavin Newsom:

“I think I’m the sixth mayor since I’ve lived in San Francisco to promise to do something in Mid Market, I know I won’t be the last, but I don’t want to look back and say I would’ve, should’ve, could’ve,” Newsom said.

Neither does a group of local artists who say now it’s their turn to present a vision for the city. But instead of making art to attract people to the neighborhood, they’re focusing on the community that’s already there -- and inviting them to participate in a large-scale exhibition called Streetopia. It launched on May 18th, and KALW’s Martina Castro was there.

Streetopia will continue through June 23, 2012. For a list of remaining events, click here