I emailed Del yesterday because 14 Black Poppies is co-producing In Flux, a night gallery, on Thursday, November 7 from 6pm to 10pm in collaboration with Open Show and Livable Environments. It is in conjunction with the Lower Polk/Upper TL Art Walk, which happens every first Thursday of the month. I wanted to see if he would be a part of the block party.
In Flux is inspired by many things, but most critically it is inspired by the constant change occurring in our world, our nation, our state, our city, our communities, and our homes. The Polk Street neighborhood has been a locus of that change for generations. It originally was Ohlone/Yelamu land. Then, it was ripped from the indigenous communities by the Spanish. Mexico fought for its independence, and all of what is now California became a part of Mexico in 1821. The United States went to war with Mexico in 1846, and it became known as San Francisco on January 30, 1847.
While it has been known as San Francisco, the Polk Street neighborhood has continued to see change. In the late 1800s, Polk street was a corridor of commerce featuring many mom and pop shops. At the turn of the century, it was home to speakeasies and jazz clubs. It transformed into a gay neighborhood in the 1950s to 1970s. Peppered with numerous gay bars and drag performances, Polk Street became a destination for nightlife and even hosted Halloween from the 1950s to 1970s, which was popular among tourists and locals.
In the last two decades, Polk Street has undergone a transformation. This transformation has displaced people who have called it home for decades. It is also a reflection of the centuries of change upon this land. And it is precisely because of this ongoing change that In Flux is so crucial, and even more so why I am thrilled to have Del Seymour be a part of it. (Note: This is a very truncated history of San Francisco and Polk Street. If you would like to learn more about the more recent history of Polk Street, please click here, here, here, here, here, and here.)
Del founded the Tenderloin Walking Tours about four and a half years ago. It is an opportunity to give back to a community that has captured his heart. It is also a way to tell the stories people do not know, the stories of the people on the streets, the building, and the services crucial to communities' sustenance.
I am working with Del to try and arrange walking tours the day of In Flux telling the stories of the changing neighborhood and peoples. It is an opportunity to learn some history and get to know an inspiring and talented storyteller. And it is exactly what I dreamt up when initially thinking about In Flux. Details are still emerging. (He will not be at the evening event as he is being honored at a veteran's event. Congrats Del!)
And...Please join us all on Thursday, November 7 from 6pm to 10pm for In Flux, a Night Gallery, in Fern Alley right off of Polk Street.
You can also check out the video of Del Seymour from The City Exposed, a column and video series by Mike Kepka. I recently had the pleasure of meeting Mike at the Open Show on Thursday, September 19. He was one of the featured photographers/documentarians. I didn't know he had created a The City Exposed video about Del Seymour until after I rang Del up. (This is why I love this city so much: connections and community.)