SiteWorks: San Francisco performance 1969-85

Breen's Bar, Saloon of MOCA, ground floor of 75 3rd Street, San Francisco, now redeveloped

Saloon of MOCA (1976-1979)

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For a couple of years in 1973 and 1974 every Wednesday afternoon there was free beer in MOCA while artists’ video tapes were shown. In ’76 I decided to meet people downstairs in Breen’s Café, and I sent out cards announcing Café Society “twotofour” every Wednesday in the Saloon of MOCA.

I got the name from Bob Feldman, a New York publisher. I had just done a one page photo-work for San Francisco Magazine that said, “There is meaning in life only only if you devote yourself to society,” and when Feldman saw it he said, “café society.”

I went down to Breen’s every Wednesday, sat there, and drank a beer. In the afternoon Breen’s wasn’t busy, and we took over the booths in the front of the bar. Later, the booths were reserved for us.

Over the years, the meeting time had gotten later. Now, it’s in my studio and is from five to eight. My Café Society became a kind of open house for artists, an artists’ bar, really. In New York, a lot of artists were living in the same neighborhood, SoHo, which had bars where they hung out. But the only way to get an artists’ scene going in San Francisco was to do it in an artificial way, by formalizing it, by inviting people.

This is a social artwork for me, another kind of invisible work (Marioni 2003: 115)

Curator(s): Tom Marioni

Participants: Tom Marioni, various