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"Single Room Occupancy (SRO)," a 12 h x 10 w acrylic on watercolor piece depicting a depressed woman sitting on a filthy mattress in a single room occupancy (SRO) hotel with a single window, and a single lamp on a tiny nightstand has been accepted into the "Homelessness" exhibition that will be running between January 25, 2014 and April 18, 2014 at Expression's Gallery, 2035 Ashby Ave. Berkeley, California, 94703. 

Single Room Occupancy by sumikoska

    This is my first time being shown at a gallery in ever, so I am extremely excited about it. My previous showings have been in non-gallery spaces including cafes and cultural centers. My two-month long showing at Cafe 3016, for example, ended on the 1st of January.
    In preparation for this exhibit, I needed to make sure that the image (which had previously been in a form-fitting 12" h x 10" w frame) would support a hanging wire. It needed a wider frame to do so, so I went out and bought the hanging equipment and picked up a new, thematically appropriate frame. 
    The frame I discovered is an appropriately Victorian style frame. It's a 15" h x 13" w brass tinted wooden frame with a leaf floret moulding. The style underscores something I wish to communicate with the piece: the tiny dresser and table lamp in the squalid hotel room with it's yellow-stained walls are clearly Victorian era, although the end table has been painted green. This is the kind of thing I used to see in a regular basis during the period of time I lived in SRO hotel rooms in San Francisco, when I first moved there between 1987 and 1989, and again in the later months of 2005 before I left for the East Bay. 
Untitled by sumikoskaUntitled by sumikoska




    SRO or Single Room Occupancy hotels in the Tenderloin, Hayes Valley and the Lower Haight were the last stop on the way down to homelessness and the first stop on the way out for so many of us, and in San Francisco, many of these hotels were build in the wake of the Great Earthquake of 1908 and the subsequent Ham and Eggs Fire which gutted Hayes Valley. 
    In the days that the followed, people repaired their homes with whatever they found, and to this day, there are homes in the Haight that have melted bricks in them, not because they were in the fire, but because they were built with bricks from homes in the Ham and Eggs fire. Likewise, old pre-1908 furniture found it's way into hotels and motels. These hotels featured an old-fashioned radiator room heater, a single tiny double-hung wood frame window, a sink, a lamp, a single bed (sans-blankets and sometimes sans-sheets), and a night stand. When one of the old hotels went out of business, these SROs would purchase the old furniture in bulk, so often you would see historic furniture painted in garish colors by the purchaser, like the green dresser depicted in the painting.


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Submitted on
January 5, 2014
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