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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

S.F. Artist Works With Tech Boom To Keep Alternative Art Scene Afloat

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2015 at 4:00 PM

The inside of one of the rooms at Gazelle Palace - CAROLINE AUGUSTA
  • Caroline Augusta
  • The inside of one of the rooms at Gazelle Palace

Many longtime San Francisco residents are fighting against the tech boom, struggling to stay in the city despite the exorbitant price of rent. One resident, however, decided to embrace it instead. 

Caroline Augusta has been using Airbnb, one of the most controversial startup-turned-tech giants, to rent out her home, which also doubles as an art studio and gallery, in order to meet and collaborate with other artists from all over the world. An artist herself, Augusta mostly makes collages but works with "any medium I can get my hands on," she said.

Her "Gazelle Palace," in the Outer Sunset, is named for the first piece of artwork (a gazelle sculpture) that was ever in the house, and she's hosted 10 different guests from all over the world since first renting it out in early August.

"We want to share the dwindling artistic San Francisco experience with the world, leading us to open our doors to travelers through Airbnb," Augusta explained in an email. "Rather than resist the inevitable change that is taking place, we have decided to utilize tools the tech industry provides."

Airbnb has also allowed Augusta to be able to continue living in San Francisco despite the price of rent.

"[If not for Airbnb], I wouldn’t be here anymore, I wouldn’t even be able to live [in San Francisco]. I’m not turning a profit; it’s paying the rent," Augusta said.

Adorned with framed pieces of artwork by various artists and stocked with art supplies, the house was a late-night destination for artists and other people who wanted somewhere to go and hang out and create artwork at weird hours, even before it was an Airbnb.

“There’s still an art scene in San Francisco obviously, but [Gazelle Palace] is more about experimentation, freedom, and underground-ness," Augusta said. "Come here, have fun, be yourself, make whatever. It's been a hub for artists and creativity and freedom, and I wanted to share that with other people."

Not only is the house filled with artwork, the house itself is a work of art. Augusta explained that when she first moved from Sonora to San Francisco six years ago, she was initially supposed to move to Sacramento because she couldn't find a place in the city. On her way to sign a lease in Sacramento, a friend informed her of an opening in the city, so she went to go see it. 

"It was a shithole," she said. "Broken glass everywhere, mold covering the entire thing...four inches of hair on the floor."

With the help of family and friends, Augusta was able to completely remodel the house, even decorating her fire escape with colorful potted plants and a table and chairs to facilitate conversation.

“A lot of energy and love has been in here, a lot of people helped me, and I just kind of wanted to return the favor," Augusta said.

Most of the guests the house has had are involved in the creative community in some way, either through art or writing. 

Gazelle Palace threw its first open house this past weekend in collaboration with ArtSpan SF. Augusta plans to begin incorporating the artist community into her space beyond Airbnb, hosting artist dinners and art workshops to bring the community together. Additionally, the space is open to the public every last Saturday of the month from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. to come check out the artwork. Augusta also encourages any artists who want to submit their work to be displayed at Gazelle Palace to do so here.

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Jessica Nemire


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