Arts and CultureNewsSan Francisco

Another SF Gallery Closes Its Doors: Wonderland SF

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Announced with a heartfelt Facebook Post, Irene Hernandez Feiks and her husband will be closing the doors on Wonderland SF this Summer. Irene has long been a true champion for San Francisco artists. You may have seen her around town at other art openings as her light, bright personality and warm heart shines at every event she attends. The closing of her own shop is bittersweet. Although it was her choice to leave the shop (a rarity in SF these days), the changes that she’s seen in The Mission have her worried about how San Francisco will keep it’s heart and soul. In my interview with her, she recalls some of her favorite happy memories in her space, the sadness she feels with the changes happening in The Mission, and her exciting personal endeavors ahead.

Q: Having lived in The Mission myself years ago, I remember the moment your shop opened and the feeling I had that this was exactly what the neighborhood needed. Tell me your favorite memory from the early days when you first opened Wonderland:

A: It’s hard to do just one memory since we had so many amazing moments in the past 10 years. Over the last 10 years we’ve worked with over 10,000 Bay Area artists and designers. For me, discovering new talent, seeing an amazing piece of art, jewelry or clothing is indescribable.

Some of my favorite memories include: All the openings, seeing the shows come together and people enjoying them, people just visiting me and drinking Tequila with my dog Tenoch and myself.  Watching my daughter grow up with all these people. We opened Wonderland when my daughter was in Kindergarten and now she is a sophomore in high school. Now she works at the store. She used to make duct tape wallets at the art openings and sell them. When she was 10 years old, she made a $1,000 from selling her work and bought herself a ticket to go to Japan.

Irene’s daughter growing up in the gallery

During the last 10 years our artists, designers and buyers have become our friends and family. I have met so many amazing people that I love so much. All our shows have been memorable for me. However some of our more popular shows each year have been the Vinyl shows, Frida Kahlo tribute shows, Day of The Dead, lucha libre shows and the Pinewood Derby.

Even chasing people stealing has been fun and memorable. Another thing that warms my heart is thinking that some people that supported us through the years whom have nothing. For me, it is very important to be kind to everyone and treat everyone the same. There are a few homeless people that when they have money they will come and buy something to support me because I was kind to them. It’s amazing what people in your community will do for you if you are good to them.

Irene with her husband and shop-dog

Q: Wonderland was open for 10 years – that’s fantastic! Why are you closing now?

A: My lease is ending and after 10 years I want to end on a high note. I honestly can’t imagine doing the same thing for 5 more years.  I see the city and the business changing. I think is time to reinvent myself and find ways that are more effective to support my community of artists and designers. I am super excited about the future and the future of my artists and designers. I am a bit upset with the changes that are happening in SF but if you can’t beat them I might as well join them. Also I am about to embark in projects outside the Bay Area and USA that will create opportunity and exposure for my artists and designers. I realize Bay Area is changing so we need to go outside our community.

Wonderland has been a labor of love.

Q: How have you seen The Mission change since then – How do you feel about the dramatic shift within The Mission? What’s something good that has come out of the change and what’s something you wish wasn’t happening?

A: Hmmm… I am trying to stay positive but at times is hard because many times lately I’ve seen amazing people that have been in The Mission their whole life getting pushed out for something that has no flavor or soul. When you see 9 businesses close on Valencia in one month is heartbreaking. For me the Mission was full of flavor, love passion and style. It was a huge melting pot. Originally the Irish and the Italians were here, then my people (Latinos) came. I just do not see diversity and character so much anymore. I see fancy restaurants, fancy coffee shops, ladies with fancy strollers, pilates, and some weird stores that I honestly have no clue how they survive. I think people in the neighborhood need to protect what made The Mission special! They just need to be educated and understand the importance of shopping at their local businesses instead of Amazon. We need the human connection. They need to invest in their community.

Artwork by monty guy

Q: I met you very quickly at a show I went to at 111 Minna with a friend. You spoke so highly of so many of the artists featured there. I remember feeling like you were one of biggest champions for artists in The City. What advice do you have for artists trying to get their work into local galleries?

A: Do not EVER give up and get discouraged! Be open to show your work EVERYWHERE, for example: hair salons, coffee shops, restaurants, bars, yoga studios etc… more people will see your work there than at any art gallery. Also social media is HUGE now and a platform you can control. Also reach out to art publications, blogs, try to do murals, reach out to tech companies, developers . Do not ever pay any money to show your work. One thing is giving a gallery or a rep money a commission for selling your work and another is paying someone $$$ to show your work!!! DO NOT DO IT!!!  If anyone needs any help or advice email me at wonderlandsfgallery@gmail.com and I will do my best to help!

Always do art and believe and yourself!!!! Being an artists is hard so do not be hard on yourself! You will get there. Art Span is a great organization that supports artists.

Q: With your business closing soon, which up and coming artists we should keep our eyes on after the doors close?

A: Is a huge list and I feel I am missing many. My apologies if I am missing anyone.  But here are some. To me, they are more than just upcoming artists – I would say artists you should FOR SURE keep following and supporting everyone on this list:

Aaron Johnson, Abel Manalo, Alberto Ybarra, Alex Garcia, Alec Huxley, Alice Koswara, Amandalynn, Amos Goldbaum, Amy Ahlstrom, Andreina Davila. Andrzej Karwacki, Andy Fuller, Brandon Hurley, Brett Crawford, Brian Barneclo, Camelia Skikos, Cat Sommer,  Maria Carmela Cucueco, Chor Boogie, Chris Granillo, Chris W Stokes, Chris Leib, Cindy Shih, Daniel Segrove, Daryll Peirce David Young, Delphyne D’urbet, Dianne Hoffman, Doug Rhodes, Ryan Stubs, Elodie Boucher, Eric Joyner, Eve Skylar, Felicia Gabaldon, Felicia Ann, Ferris Plock, Fleur Deparis, Garage Gooch, Gianluca Franzese Helice Wen, Henry Lewis, Hilary Williams, Ian Reynold,  Ian Ross, Jasper Thomas, Jaxon Northon, Jeff Weiss, JL King, Jessica Petrie, Jesus Hernandez, John Wentz, Jon Ching, Joshua Lawyer, Josh Coffy, Jonah Burlingame, Justin Young, Josh Thurman, Karla Korazon, Keegan Roberson, Kelly Tunstall, Kenneth Malone, Kevin Earl Taylor, Kim Cogan, Kukula, Lacey Patterson, Lana Kohn, Laura Buss, lauren Napolitano, Lee Harvey Roswell, Leon Loucheur, Lindsey Millikan, Lorena Zertuche, Lucas Bononi, Luciano Roque, Marcus Era, Mariana Berlin, Mario Navasero, Mary Syring, Mark Campbell, Matt Hunter, Max Hrman (Eon75), Melanie Alves,  Merkley???, Mexakitsch (ELROD), Micah LeBrun, Michael Murphy, MJ Lindo, Monty Guy, Irene M Feiks, Alberto Hernandez, Nate 1, Nate Van Dyke, Nathan Geare, Nick Flatt, Nome Edonna, Telopa, Olympia Altimir Galvez, Paul Trapani, Paul Lewin, Paul Morin, Patrick Hofmeister, Peter Samuels, Phillip Hua, Pixelstud, I Poop You, Rachel Znerold, Ransom and Mitchell. Raul D’Mauries, Reiner Hansen, Renee Castro, Rick Kitagawa, Rob Harris, Robert Bowen, Rodney Weiss, Rogelio Martinez, Romanowski, Russell Ryan, Safi Kolozsvari, Sam Flores, Sandra Yagi, Serge Gay Jr. Sergio Lopez, Ozi, Sergio Navarro,  Sierra Love, Shane Izykowski, Sherrie Thai, Sonia Leticia, Sonja Navin, Su Evers, Steven Javiel, Steven Vigil. Tim Rose, Tanya Herrera, Tory Belleci, Tracy Piper, Ursula Young Xanthe, Xiau Fong We, Ximena Rendon, Youbeen Kim, Ytaelena Lopez

Community is at the heart of Wonderland SF

Q: Who have been some of your favorite creators and artists to work with over the years?

A: Camelia Skikos, Shirley Tsung Crowley,  Yuteng, Tamo Hulva, Octopusme, Kenly Warren, Leyla Bahar, Mariana Boden,  Joshua Layer, Mj Lindo, Monty Guy, ALec Huxley, Nome Edonna, Jeff weiss, Kevin Earl Taylor, Serge Gay Jr. Alberto Ybarra, Xiau Fong We, John Wentz, Jeremy Mann, Eric Joyner,  Olympia Altimir Galvez, Jon Ching, Marcus Era, Luciano Roque, Paul Lewin, Robert Bowen, Ian Reynold, Melanie Alves, Amandalynn, and many more…

Artwork by Joshua Lawyer

Q: Lastly, with the doors of Wonderland closing this summer, what can people expect to see from you in the near future?

A: I am working on a ton of new projects that I am very excited about. I will be curating for a few galleries in The Bay Area but also I have a project in LA, New York and London. Also I am working with developers and tech companies trying to make sure they invest in our community. Also working on a documentary and working on a new blog and podcast. Contemplating on reviving Chillin’ Productions and doing some corporate event planning. Most of all planning on enjoying life. It has been crazy 10 years of hard work. It truly has been a labor of love.

Q: Wait, Wait… I have one more question. You’re open until June, right? What shows will you be having in your last few months?

A: I am super excited to announce that This Saturday April 13 Micah LeBrun is doing his solo show from 6-10pm. He is the curator I admire the most and an amazing painter!!!! The show is so beautiful!!!

In the words of Micah LeBrun – “Isolated Incident is a body of work I’ve created in reverence of Irene Hernandez Feiks and Wonderland SF. I am so grateful for the creative community she has garnered over the years and its influence in the Bay Area art scene. And as Wonderland enters its final months, I am honored to be a part of its legacy with this nearly final show, ’Isolated Incident.’ ”

Finally, our last art opening May 25 from 6pm-until later over 200 artists. We will have bands, DJ’s food and more…. It will be hard to say goodbye.

However, during the next 3 months (until June 30, 2019) we will have amazing sales and lots of little parties. Please come and keep supporting our artists and designers. We will be open everyday from 12-6pm (1266 Valencia Street, SF 94110)

Also in June, we will be having some crazy underground events. If you want to find out about them email me at wonderlandsfgallery@gmail.com

I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the people that have been part of Wonderland SF. Artists, designers, collectors, shoppers, interns, employees, mami, papi and lastly Houston and Isabella. Without all of you all these amazing 10 years would never happened! I appreciate and love you all!!! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you to all the people that believed in us!!!

Irene outside of her shop

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Katy Atchison

Katy Atchison

Katy is a professional smiling machine raised in The Bay Area since the age of 3. While other kids were attending summer camp & soccer practice, she was raised selling wares at craft shows with her working artist parents and spent vacations in a small 1920s Montana log cabin. This has all given her a unique perspective on the ever-changing texture of San Francisco and the Greater Bay Area. Currently a blend of all that is The Bay Area - she's a web designer at a tech-company, artist and DIY teacher.