TUCKED AMONG THE taquerias and coffeehouses of SanFrancisco’s unconventional Inner Mission district, Adobe Books Backroom Gallery stands as a community landmark. “On any given day, you can find artists, politicians,writers, poets, lovers, derelicts and drunks,” says DevonBella, the Backroom Gallery’s director and curator. Customers lounge on tattered couches reading Baudelaire or perch in armchairs and discuss philosophy; surrounding shelves sag under the weight of used texts on history, travel and classical studies.
Since its 1989 opening, Adobe has been a nurturing spot for revolutionary ideas — a creative refuge similar to Paris’ Shakespeare & Co. in the 1920s and City Lights Bookstore during Kerouac’s San Fran days. Added allure comes from Adobe’s owner, Andrew McKinley, a longtime patron of the city’s art scene.
Though Adobe has always showcased local art on its walls, it wasn’t until artist Amanda Eicher suggested the addition of a dedicated space in which artists could display and perform that a movement formed. The newly remodeled 250-square-foot Backroom Gallery soon became a breeding ground for some of the city’s most impressive emerging figures, including installation artist Andy Vogt as well as writers, sculptors, painters, thinkers and admirers who now meet regularly in the space to share their works and ideas. With McKinley as its honorary Gertrude Stein, the used bookstore has been at the center of an artistic renaissance and, although the neighborhood has since gentrified, its draw remains constant.
Says Bella: “Adobe is a reminder of our desire to belong to a community and that community’s ability to nurture us in return.” adobebooksbackroomgallery.blogspot.com