Wendi Norris, owner of the gallery of the same name. (Photo by Steven Brandsetter)

11 Most Influential Women in the San Francisco Art World

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This is a woman's world.

Well, maybe not yet. But if the pussy-hat-wearers and #metoo whistleblowers and #timesup advocates and Hollywood starlets and badass female chefs have anything to say about it (and you know they do!), it will be soon. But did you know that the art world is already at the cutting edge?


According to a study by The National Center for Arts Research, women are already conquering the art world. Ladies have leading roles at 48 percent of American museums, and 54 percent of our small and midsize galleries are female-owned. In fact, some of the country's most prestigious art institutions are directed by women—including Lisa Phillips, of New Museum in New York; Anne Pasternak, of Brooklyn Museum, and Martha Tedeschi, of Harvard Art Museums—who pioneer innovative new programs and promote up-and-coming artists and burgeoning communities.

The Bay Area, unsurprisingly, is in step with this revolution, with fearless women of power at every major museum and dominating our gallery scene. Meet the local ladies who are changing the rules and shaping a supportive environment to bolster both local artists and our city's reputation as an international leader in art.

(Courtesy of Joen Madonna)

Joen Madonna, founder of ArtSpan

The basics. "When I entered the role as executive director of ArtSpan, I committed to expanding support for artists beyond our popular flagship event, San Francisco Open Studios. I wanted to do more advocacy work, ensuring the rights and needs of artists were being considered at City Hall. I also expanded our programming and created Art in Neighborhoods to offer many more exhibition opportunities to artists all over San Francisco as well as establishing 32 artist studios for ArtSpan artists to make their work."

Work in progress. "I am excited to be fundraising to open the ArtSpan Onondaga Art Center in a historic city-owned building in the Excelsior District. We will serve SF artists and residents with art studios, a community meeting space, a classroom, a resource center, and a collaborative art gallery."

The Bay Area can do better. "Artists housing and much more robust fiscal support of art support organizations, like ArtSpan, would go a long way toward helping the Bay Area creative community thrive in these challenging times. As one of the Team of Stewards for Arts for a Better Bay Area, I am helping organize the State of the Arts event and award ceremony that will take place on April 12 at the Midway Creative Complex in the Dogpatch. My opinion is that City Hall needs to be present in more of our discussion about the need for affordable housing and support of artists, one of the city's more precious resources."

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