Bernadette: Queen of the Underground

Triumph in the Art Scene against all odds | Photos by DOT

Walk through the glass door to an unassuming underground, yet well-known artist space in the Mission District of San Francisco and you will find a wonderland of fabulousness. A radical art house bustling with drag queens, dancers, musicians, film-makers and photographers all setting up for shoots, building sets or rehearsing for upcoming local productions. At the heart of the studio, you will also find our iconic host, Bernadette sipping bubbles, telling tales and making art and culture happen at her own infamous, Box Factory.

Take one part Louise Nevilson, a cup of Keith Haring, two parts Andy Warhol, spoon in some Gertrude Stein, add a splash of Ellen and a sprinkle of Nico and mix them into a perfect fine art cocktail blend that is our one and only ferocious, gingery-genius and pop-artist, Bernadette Bohan.

As a first generation Irish-American, Bernadette, determined, like her Irish Immigrant parents to make their American Dreams come true, travelled west- far away from her family and provincial Connecticut and East Coast roots to pioneer her own pursuits of her American Dream. With two ‘Bean-Town’ degrees under her belt and much time spent with artists in New York City, Bernadette’s sights were set on the west where she found her heart and passion in our ‘City of Love’, San Francisco.

Bernadette is a multidisciplinary artist and renaissance woman, not only topping her long-standing fine art career with new recycled, museum-ready collection of pop-art pieces but she is also a singer-songwriter, musician, writer, performance and installation artist, dancer, talk-show host and activist. She is a member of both Ducal and Imperial Councils and on the leadership team of the Comfort & Joy non-profit. She has raised awareness and thousands of dollars for amazing causes in the Bay Area and beyond. Her impact and influence on the art scene in San Francisco is fierce and pertinent, contemporary and charismatic.

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Bernadette’s large-scale pop art pieces are in direct response and opposition to our the gender-binary and consumerist addictions our society is constantly under attack by. Her art gives us a chance to self-reflect and see the bright-eyed plastic faces of disenfranchisement, environmental degradation as well as some deeply embedded dark, sexual yet playful undertones woven with industrial glue, plastic and wood.

These outrageous and gorgeously jeweled plastic and brightly hued pieces bat their animated, kinder eyelashes at us, seducing us at every glance.

Despite the cultural art scene demolition in San Francisco due to gentrification, evictions, high cost of living increases and the closure of many creative venues that showcased artists and creatives Bernadette believes that this is the time to be bold. Her determination, conviction, humility, ferocity and ability to establish and cultivate positive creative community seems to be the recipe to her long-standing success and ability to weather the San Francisco storms: booms and busts in our gold-rush city. Bernadette’s bound and determined to hang her artistic hat on the hallowed halls at the SF MoMa and De Young Museums. Dreams do really come true and this is one woman that we believe will make hers happen.

Recently shown at Dada Fine Art Bar and the Laundry, Bernadette will be participating in the ‘Summer of Love’ group show at 111 Minna and do not miss her upcoming solo show, a Pride-themed show at Paxton Gate Curiosities will open on Thursday, May 25th at 7pm and will remain up until July 2nd. Please check out paxtongate.com and bernadette.us for more information.

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