Contribution to Sustenance: 150 Years of Feeding the Community at 600 Divisidero, a group show at Rare Device in San Francisco. Papercut and mixed media in shadow box.
The concept of preservation was touched upon three ways in this French boucherie (butcher shop). First, the culinary aspect: Preservation of meats in the absence of refrigeration was the original basis of charcuterie. Today, the focus is more on the flavors and preparation of those preserved meats. Second, the architectural aspect: Preservation of old storefronts and handpainted signs keep us in touch with the more colorful edifices and advertising of days past. And lastly, the societal aspect: Preservation of a way of life; in this case, the act of purchasing goods and services from local vendors, enabling a more personal connection to one’s community and food.
About the show:
600 Divisadero Street has provided nourishment to everyone around it for over 150 years. Since 1876 this piece of pasture has housed an orphanage, a Bank of Italy, a neighborhood meat market, and now, Rare Device shop and gallery. Each of these institutions has fed the community–sometimes with food, and sometimes with more spiritual sustenance, as a place for neighbors to gather and feel at home. The community also feeds 600 Divis, much like tributaries feed a river. Generations of San Franciscans have flowed through here, sometimes stopping and spending time with the people, goods and spaces that have grown and changed here over time.
In 1876 the Pacific Hebrew Orphan Asylum was built on the site of 600 Divisadero, which fed dozens of children–and, after the 1906 earthquake, more than 50 other members of the local community as well. Even though the kitchen was destroyed, Superintendent Henry Mauser grilled meats over an improvised fire pit for weeks following the disaster. 50 years later 600 Divis continued that tradition by serving local residents with high-quality, low-cost meats at Divisadero Meat Market. Divisadero Meat Market stayed open under just two different owners, finally closing in 2010. Now the storefront is home to Rare Device, a welcoming spot where people can nourish their spirits and homes with meaningful, beautiful objects, or gather for community events like children’s story time.