Ongoing Experiments

San Francisco became associated early on with revolutionary approaches to art: filmmakers, poets, musicians, and painters all working in a less traditional vein saw the Bay Area as a location where their rebellion against social norms could flourish, allowing them to merge concepts and disciplines that would otherwise remain stagnant. One of the great emblems of that boundary-challenging outpouring is The LAB, a gallery and performance space located in the San Francisco’s historic Redstone Building.

The story of The LAB starts in 1984, when an organization of interdisciplinary artists called The•art•re•grüp decided to make a space where all the creators working in the city could gather and influence one another. The resulting venue was named CoLAB (stressing the belief in collaboration), and it quickly became a sought after artistic space. Performances by established industrial music acts such as Hüsker Dü and Minimal Man further cemented the CoLAB’s reputation among avant-garde musicians, performers, and writers.

The CoLAB changed its name to The LAB in 1986 and began showcasing visual art alongside the performance pieces. As the gallery space became increasingly central to The LAB’s identity, artists and designers like Rex Ray, Victor Mario Zaballa, and Dawn Fryling started using The LAB’s walls as launching platforms for their careers.

Today, The LAB continues with its interdisciplinary tradition, hosting yearly events like the Striptease Auction and Trunk Show, where the models walking down the runway auction the clothes off of their backs. Another annual favorite is the Post-Postcard art sale that occurs at the beginning of December. The sale challenges all participating artists to only bring in pieces that can fit into a shoebox, and it is a great place to buy some marvelously original artwork from the creators themselves.

True to the founders’ ideas, The LAB encourages interdisciplinary art, and most every show presents audiences with a pairing of graphic artists, musicians, and some less classifiable performers all working together to create something unique and memorable.

During exhibitions, The LAB stays open from 1:00pm to 6:00pm, Thursday through Saturday. It is located at 2948 16th St. and Capp St, only ½ block away from the 16th St BART station. To find out about upcoming performances and ticket prices, you can call The LAB at 415-864-8855, or check their website at

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