North Beach brings back vinyl to benefit homeless

An observer inspects the vinyl art pieces at Vinyl Transformations exhibition at Gallery 28 located in North Beach on Saturday, March 12. Sandy Ha / staff photographer

The walls of North Beach’s Gallery 28 looked as if a rainbow exploded inside a Capitol Records office.

Gallery 28 hosted the opening reception for an exhibit March 2 called Vinyl Transformations, in which records served as the canvas for numerous artists hoping to raise money for North Beach Citizens – an organization benefiting those in the neighborhood who are in need. The art exhibition runs until April 2.

“It’s so uplifting when you think that with budget cuts and grants disappearing, that there’s an organization doing something proactively, bringing a community together,” said Ethel Jimenez, the owner of Gallery 28, located at 1228 Grant Ave.

The organization, which helps both the homeless and low-income residents in North Beach, also worked with Gallery 28 last year to showcase skateboard decks that artists had worked on, raising $6,000.

This year, however, the organization’s creative arts committee chose a recycling theme, eventually using records as the canvases.

“When I did the stuff on the skateboard, I did ‘collage-y’ stuff,” said artist Genea Barnes. “This time, I wanted to preserve the feel of the record.”

NBC held a silent auction to sell the pieces, but the artwork is also on the market immediately for a “buy it now” price, and various pieces have already garnered a number of bids. The gallery also accepted donations directly to the NBC.

Artists had the option of donating all or half of the proceeds from the sale of their pieces.

“I tend to donate a lot of art and think more people buy art through charity events,” said artist Amanda Lynn, who donated half of her earnings.

The donations coincide with NBC’s goal of linking the homeless to the North Beach community. NBC, which filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola founded in 1996, is an active part of the neighborhood, offering various services such as the NBC Community Food Pantry that provides food to North Beach’s low-income, disabled and elderly residents.

“When a person comes to NBC and makes a commitment, they make one to you,” Jimenez said.

NBC has already assisted more than 100 people get back on their feet – helping with housing, obtaining identification and becoming employed.

“In any neighborhood, you have that kind of group trying to help out and each neighborhood has different needs,” Barnes said. “There’s a different type of feel for the needy in each neighborhood. It’s great when a coalition caters to the specific needs of a neighborhood.”

Vinyl Transformations offered a fun way to help the underprivileged. While unusual, the idea of using records was a welcomed change for many of the artists who found creative ways of utilizing the round space.

“It was cool, I liked the texture and it was pretty interesting to paint,” Lynn said.

While asked not to go too far out of the box when it came to creatively using the records, Jimenez said that they were flexible with the art, despite the limited space of the gallery.

Some chose to turn the records into sculptures and even made the record a portion of the work rather than the overall focus.

Barnes was one of the many who stayed within the boundaries of the record but said that she enjoyed working with the unique medium.

“Any time I get to think outside my normal box, it’s kind of fun,” Barnes said. “I get to think, ‘how do I get what I have in my heart on this?’ It gets my creative juices flowing and anytime I get challenged in that way, it gets me inspired.”

Barnes named her piece “Sea Green/Blue 7,” describing the colors in the work.

“I don’t like the idea of viewers getting confused,” Barnes said. “There’s so much artwork that I’ll look at, and I read the title and it’ll change the idea of what I think. I want the viewers to come up with their own thought.”

For the artists, the opportunity was a chance to be part of not only an organization, but also a part of the neighborhood.

“I’ve worked in the neighborhood for over ten years,” Barnes said. “I feel I’m a part of it, so any chance I can give back with my artwork, I try to do that.”

Barnes’ sentiment is what the exhibit is all about: community cohesion.

“This event brought in the entire community,” Jimenez said. “Whether it’s writing a check or buying one of the records, you can make a difference.”

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