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SoMa’s Own Montmartre

Fresh South Beach winds herald a lively arts neighborhood on the rise. In many ways, San Francisco is the new Paris – a movable feast of creative ideas. And SoMa’s the tastiest part. “The Academy of Art University is transforming the City,” says Don Canady, San Francisco Film Commissioner and SoMa resident. “Their students rub shoulders with the business community, and their gallery offers walk-in art to thousands of businesspeople.”

Corner Photo of the AAU Building at 79 New Mongomery

The Academy’s diverse programs are helping breathe new life into SoMa since the dot-com bubble burst. SoMa today is a hot bustling quarter where young artists are snatched up by competing reps on-the-hire. The school’s Spring Show, for example, offered 400 students an Open Studio visited by over 350 industry representatives courting fresh young talent. These emerging artists slide easily into careers in creative information design, communication and entertainment for the modern digital age.

The Academy’s gallery exhibits much of the very fine art produced by both students and faculty. And as neighbors, we’re always invited to visit 79 New Montgomery, where displayed pieces are available for purchase—paintings, prints, sculpture and even hand-made books.

The success that Academy students carry throughout the world is also pouring new power into SoMa, which now enjoys a strong reputation as San Francisco’s artistic center. “The neighborhood is marking the change,” says Dan Berns, the Academy’s Department Manager for Motion Pictures. “More working professionals are exploring here, finding the best ways to do old things in the most modern way.”

Neighborhood business owners welcome the changing culture – especially restaurants and bistros. “ SOMA is a new hangout for a new generation,” muses George Nieh, co-owner of Julie’s Supper Club, recently re-opened with a new bar and a new menu. “The Academy has an international impact. Mostly an international crowd comes here. There’s an electric buzz that stirs the atmosphere here. The old warehouses of SOMA are now exciting new lofts & condos, and cool folks come here to find hot clubs, good parties and great food.”

panaramic view of the AAU Gallery


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