Artist you should knowArts and CultureSan Francisco

Meet Cindy Shih: Artist You Should Know

Updated: Apr 13, 2017 10:15
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The “Artist You Should Know” series highlights local artists before they exhibit their work somewhere awesome, it’s our way of supporting the creative community and helping to keep San Francisco a strange and wonderful place.  Meet artist Cindy Shih, and see her work at the SF Arts Commission Gallery show opening Saturday, March 25th.

artist you cindy

Meet Cindy Shih, an artist you should know

Name: Cindy Shih

Medium(s): Sumi Ink, Graphite, Watercolor, and Oils

What was your first job in San Francisco? Ambiance on Haight Street! Lived half a block away on Haight-Ashbury, walked downstairs and asked for a job after I moved here.

I’m a sophisticated graduate with a BFA or FUCK art school! A big shout-out to the Art Department of City College of San Francisco. Took a bunch of art classes there for a fraction of the cost of going to an art school. Great teachers, people from all walks of life. Best deal in the nation.

What still inspires you about San Francisco? There are supremely talented people here who still attempt to give a damn. Also, it’s natural beauty, evening light, greenery, and views still stun me on a daily basis.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA‘Chasm’ 20 x 20.  by Cindy Shih

‘Chasm’ 20 x 20. by Cindy Shih

Let’s talk politics, are you a liberal or a super duper liberal? Liberal, but I am that annoying friend who likes to ask questions about everything. There are more questions than answers right now.

What was your last great night out in San Francisco? January 21st, 2017. Women’s March. The feeling of relief, camaraderie, jubilance, and hope in the air was palpable. I walked down Market St. in the freezing rain with some of my favorite people, danced in the window of Luggage Store Gallery, took turns swigging booze from a flask, and ended up in Chinatown.

How has the city changed?  The city seems less improvisational and compassionate these days. It’s a bit more planned, and sometimes more callous.


Decay/Growth by Cindy Shih

What are you trying to communicate through your art lately? There’s a certain elegance and beauty in destruction; vitality that lives within the fissures and cracks. I want to question binaries we take for granted (life/death, nature/man-made, structure/fluid) in my work, and for it to bring forth discussion of how we need decay and destruction for growth to occur


Decay/Growth by Cindy Shih

What does it take to make it as an artist in SF these days? Resourcefulness, an entrepreneurial spirit, and at the same time, humility and understanding your relationship to money. I don’t think any reasonable person goes into making art to make money, but to deny it’s importance in a city like ours is doing yourself a disservice, so it takes a lot of self-reflection, hustle, and balance. It’s a privilege to do what I do in a city like ours, and I remind myself of this every day. Artists can do the most with the least amount of resources, I truly believe that.

Any SF artists you think are outstanding right now? So many. There are more than a few world-class artists just within my studio building, Pacific Felt Factory. Artists like Brian Singer, Sandra Yagi, Rodney Ewing, Constantine Zlatev, just to name a few. I also love (and am lucky to own!) the work of Rebecca Szeto, Phillip Dvorak, John Wentz, and I want to invest in so many more.

cinderflora instillationCinderflora installation

Favorite Museum right now? In SF? I’m a fan of the old SFMOMA, but haven’t given myself proper time and emotional readiness to the visit the new one yet.

Favorite Gallery right now? I see consistently great work at Catharine Clark and Jack Fischer galleries.

Favorite Street art right now? Nychos is doing some really great work, and I’ve always been a fan of Swoon.

What’s coming up for you? I have two pieces up at the “With Liberty and Justice for Some” show at the SF Arts Commission Gallery opening next week, Saturday, March 25th. And I’ll have my studio open for Mission Artists Open Studios April 1st and 2nd. I’m also collaborating with two companies at the moment, Savoir Faire in Novato, and Greenport Designs in Sonoma, working on ways to utilize my art and their products in different, creative ways.

Sanctuary City: With Liberty and Justice for Some

sanctuary city

Exhibition Dates: March 25 – April 8, 2017
Exhibition Location: SFAC Main Gallery
401 Van Ness Avenue (War Memorial Veterans Building), Suite 126
San Francisco, CA 94102
Opening Reception: Saturday, March 25, 6 – 9 p.m.
Free and open to the public

I was really lucky to sell out of my series last year, so I’m kind of starting from scratch this year. At the studio, I’m focused on creating a new series of larger graphite pieces on paper and watercolor/ink paintings on panel that I should have ready by the end of the year. I have an idea of where it is going, but I’m keeping it fairly open ended at this point.


Instagram: @cindyshihart


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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

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