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The Lab © PunkToad/Flickr
The Lab © PunkToad/Flickr
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Why You Should Check Out The Lab, A Fascinating Art Space In San Francisco

Picture of Courtney Holcomb
Updated: 29 September 2016
Located in the Redstone Building in the Mission District of San Francisco is The Lab, a non-profit art gallery and performance space. Read on to get to know this hub for creativity and why you should visit.

A W.A.G.E.-certified organization, The Lab is recognized for its commitment to paying artist fees that meet a minimum standard. The organization is proud to provide space and resources for artistic experimentation, with the belief that ‘if it gives artists enough time, space, and funding to realize their vision, the work they produce will change the way we experience the world.’ By seeking out artists underrepresented due to gender, class, race, sexuality, or geography, as well as those whose work is not easily defined, The Lab aims to revolutionize the way we evaluate artistic value.


A photo posted by keisuke.k (@ke1suk8) on

San Francisco State University art students Alan Millar, John DiStefano, and Laura Brun founded The Lab in 1984. Originally called Co-LAB, the space was located on Divisadero Street and featured an upstairs theater and a downstairs gallery space. The site was used primarily as a production space for art in a variety of mediums, but a series of radical musical presentations, art exhibitions, and experimental performances were also hosted there.

In 1985 the organization was renamed The Lab and moved to its current location near the 16th Street/Mission BART station. The Redstone Building is known for its political history, organizing unions for the General Strike of 1934 and various successful fights for the rights of African Americans, women, and Chicano workers. The Lab partnered with the Clarion Alley Mural Project to create a series of murals recognizing this important history in the building’s main atrium.


A photo posted by The Lab (@thelabsf) on

Since the relocation, The Lab has continued hosting unique artistic exhibitions and events. One such event was Godwaffle Noise Pancakes, presented by the Los Angeles Free Music Society, in which an admission cost of $8 earned visitors a stack of vegan pancakes to eat while treating their ears to a noise performance by a collective of experimental musicians. The Lab has also hosted the Soundwave Festival, featuring performances like the musical and multimedia Revelations in the Illuminated Forest. Other events have included a 24-hour telethon, an annual Post-Postcard show, and a striptease fashion show.

The Lab does not keep regular hours, so checking the program calendar before visiting is always advised. Explore The Lab’s various past projects and events here, or browse through the projects to come here. You can even become a member of The Lab and earn access to members-only offerings and free or reduced admission to events, all while supporting cutting-edge programs and helping artists to earn a living wage.