Cries of San Francisco Book Release / by Celeste Christie

 The cover of "The Cries of San Francisco."

The cover of "The Cries of San Francisco."

We're so thrilled to see the release of Allison Smith's book "The Cries of San Francisco," created in collaboration with Southern Exposure. We were part of this project back in 2011, and it changed A4DS in fundamental ways. We enlisted our friends Francois Hughes and Sean Morris to assist with the Class War Store. What we didn't expect was how much Francois and Sean would bring to A4DS over the now 5 years that they have been part of the organization, or how much The Cries of San Francisco would help our organization grow.

A4DS started out as a partnership between Steve and I, and like a lot of artist collaborations, the strength of the organization depended on the strength of our relationship, first as partners, and now as husband and wife. While we had imagined that others might want to join us, and we had had supporters and assistance in the past, it had never blossomed into a full collaboration. When we came up with the idea for the Class War Store, we knew we needed help and we had friends we thought would be perfect for the roles we needed. We needed Francois' expertise in building things, specifically the cart, and Sean's help in creating our cries and a compelling performance component were integral to the project. Steve and I hoped that they would be full collaborators on the project, which they were, contributing not just in their areas of expertise, but bringing new ideas to the project and helping us develop the central idea. Francois and Sean joined A4DS with that project and have been collaborators on every project since.

 Sean and I at Mint Plaza during the Cries' Market Day, from the book

Sean and I at Mint Plaza during the Cries' Market Day, from the book

The Cries of San Francisco introduced us to the amazing variety of artists working on the project, some of whom became friends and others collaborators. Jesse Boardman Kauppila and Ethan Rafal joined A4DS after the Cries. Jesse has since moved across the country to attend Carnegie Mellon and earn an MFA, but Ethan still collaborates with us, his most recent project being his incredible photographs of our most recent project, UTOPS.

As none of us have MFA degrees, it can feel at times that we're outside artists, without the access to the academic networks that MFA degrees provide. Being a part of The Cries of San Francisco gave us access to our own network of artists and helped to legitimize our practice by being the first project that we had received any institutional backing for. Later that year, we were thrilled to be a part of Southern Exposure's annual juried show, Proof, with our project The Conspiracy Chalkboard. For the first time, we felt we were being noticed and taken seriously.

Cracking open the cover of The Cries of San Francisco and seeing pictures of all of the people who worked so tirelessly to be a part of the project, not least of all Allison Smith and the staff of Southern Exposure, reminds me of how A4DS has grown and changed over the years, and how much The Cries was the catalyst for our growth.

- Celeste

 The etching of us as Class War Store, from The Cries of San Francisco

The etching of us as Class War Store, from The Cries of San Francisco