The Cries of San Francisco

A project by Allison Smith

The Cries of San Francisco

Opening Reception & Project Launch: Friday, May 20, 2011
Members Only Opening: 6 – 7:30 PM
Public Opening: 7:30 – 10 PM
Location: Southern Exposure

Exhibition: May 20 – July 2, 2011
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 12 – 6 PM
Note: The gallery will be closed on May 28, June 11 and June 25.

Market Day, Public Art Event: Saturday, June 11, 2011, 12 – 5 PM
Project Headquarters: Mint Plaza (Off of 5th Street between Market Street and Mission Street)
5th Street between Mint Plaza and Market Street
Market Street between 5th Street and 3rd Street

Saturday Markets:
Saturday, June 4, 12 – 6 PM
Saturday, June 18, 12 – 6 PM
Saturday, July 2, 12 – 6 PM
Location: Southern Exposure

The Cries of San Francisco is a project by Allison Smith in collaboration with Southern Exposure that invokes the historic tradition of street peddlers hawking their wares with melodic songs and calls as a means of offering up social revelations on the temporal employments, habits, and callings of nearly 70 Bay Area artists, craftspeople, and other urban workers. The Cries of San Francisco takes the form of a public art event centered around Mint Plaza, a sculptural installation and a series of events at Southern Exposure and a publication chronicling the project.

Originally inspired by The Cries of London, a centuries-old iconographic tradition encompassing thousands of storied images depicting city street merchants offering a range of goods and services, from primroses to rat catching, The Cries of San Francisco is an interdisciplinary project that invites participants to make and sell crafted wares on Market Street, while “crying out” publicly on subjects of their own choosing. Merchants of food, flowers, sand, and matches; charcoal vendors and chimney-sweeps; basket sellers, knife and scissor grinders, chair menders, and love song writers: in urban folklore, whether as trickster border-crossers or as anchorless outcasts, street criers represent a liminal space between worlds. Questioning the essentialized personification of trades that historically locate economies of craft in and on the body, and by using the framework of historic street cries to articulate new subject positions, this project presents participants with an opportunity to consider their roles in historical processes. With a unique combination of soapbox speech making and sculptural drag, The Cries of San Francisco offers a crossroads in which our identities as artists, makers, independent contractors, small business owners, citizens, immigrants, or outsiders can be negotiated, performed, and addressed publicly.

Allison Smith presents a sculptural installation at Southern Exposure that serves as a public house and market hall where participants gather to perform and record their cries and to trade and peddle their wares to the public. The exhibition includes sculptures, works on paper, and ambient sound, creating a tangible stage-set for social interaction, dialogue, events, and market days.

A project website with more information can be found at