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Storied: San Francisco

Apr 2, 2024

In Part 2, we hear about Chloe's first photo show, which took place at The Bearded Lady. Chloe describes The Bearded Lady as a hub, a place to do and get everything you could possibly need. It and the Kiki Gallery next door were both on 14th Street near Guerrero.
Another queer artist, Cathy, liked Chloe's show and suggested that she go to art school. And
so Chloe got into San Francisco Art Institute. She had a darkroom at her home and sometimes printed at Harvey Milk Photo Center in Duboce Park. But she was able to do so much at her school.
At this point in the podcast, Chloe and I talk about photo editing and what that process was like in the analog film days. I name-drop Photoworks and Chloe mentions the photo labs at Macy's, then we end with Chloe's acknowledgement that people are embracing film again.
I ask Chloe about the 2000s. Her daughter was born and they left The City, finding a new home in the East Bay to raise her kid. With the shift from film to digital, Chloe struggled to keep up and her life priorities changed.
We talk about so many places that were important to the queer, dyke, and lesbian scenes closing in the Millennium. People from that scene started having kids and some pursued careers in other cities. Many wanted more space and couldn't get it in The City. The Dotcom boom happened, and folks were bought out or got priced out.
That leads to a sidebar on the recent resurgence we're seeing here in San Francisco. There's Mother Bar of course, where we recorded, and Chloe mentions other new queer art spaces like Schlomer Haus Gallery. We wonder whether the pandemic was a correction event.
The conversation shifts to how Chloe's photo book, Renegades, came about. Early in the pandemic, when everyone stayed home, her daughter came back from college to live with her. Her daughter saw Chloe's photos and told her to start an Instagram account. She did, but of course her daughter set it all up.
They scanned many, many photos and started to post. The reaction was endearing and intense and overwhelming, she says. Chloe says it was like a high school reunion, with so many of her friends from the Nineties reemerging in her life on social media.
The aforementioned Schlomer Haus Gallery saw what was happening and reached out looking for queer artists to show in their new space on Market. And so Chloe got a solo show in 2022. That show, Renegades San Francisco: The 1990s, set the stage for her book of the same name.
That 2022 experience was still so new to her. But at the show's opening, people reconnected with one another and the work took on a life of its own. Chloe says people were in tears. They took photos of their photos that were in the show. 300+ people attended the opening that night and many of those went to the after party at Mothership Bar on Mission.
"We all just showed up like nothing ever happened," Chloe says. Younger people at the opening told her, "This is why I moved to San Francisco," speaking to the scenes depicted in Chloe's photos.
Renegades San Francisco: The 1990s the book is available at local bookstores like City Lights, Fabulosa Books, SFMOMA, and Green Apple. It's also available online. Go to Chloe's website for more info.
We end Part 2 with Chloe's interpretation of our theme this season: "We're all in it." There's a special shout-out to photobooths.
Follow Chloe on Instagram to stay up to date on shows and book signings.
Photography by Jeff Hunt