News Release No. 2 - August 25, 2009

Punk Passage: San Francisco First Wave Punk 1977-1981

For Immediate Release: June 18, 2009

Contacts: Michelle Jeffers (415) 557-4282

Exhibition and Programs Celebrate San Francisco’s Vibrant Punk Scene of the Late ’70s

Punk Passage: San Francisco First Wave Punk 1977-1981

An Exhibition of Photography by Ruby Ray on view

Sept. 12 through Dec. 6 at San Francisco Main Library

In the late 1970s, San Francisco was the center of a vibrant punk scene, rivaling Los Angeles and New York. In an exciting exhibition debuting Sept. 12 at the San Francisco Main Library’s Jewett Gallery, the energy, humor and anarchy of this period will be on display.

Punk Passage: San Francisco First Wave Punk features 45 black and white portraits and live music photographs of original punk innovators by the San Francisco-based photographer Ruby Ray. Working for the seminal punk magazine, Search and Destroy, Ray began chronicling the City’s punk scene in 1977.

Original punk rock ‘zines, flyers and posters from 1977 to 1981, along with additional articles and ephemera from the Library’s Art, Music and Recreation Center Collection and from the Little Magazine Collection, Book Arts & Special Collections, also will be on view, sharing the rich historical roots of punk rock from the center of the San Francisco artistic movement. The exhibition continues through Dec. 6.

“San Francisco punk was the real deal. Artists from other cities may have had more mainstream media visibility, but from the beginning, San Francisco punk music and underground happenings were more varied and intense, and rocked harder, than anywhere else on the planet,” said Ray.

The photographs represent some of San Francisco’s contribution to the international punk movement. The message is unabashed individualism, creativity, do-it-yourself activism and black humor. Bands such as The Avengers, the Dead Kennedys, the Dils, Crime, Sleepers, the Mutants and others are represented, placing them within the historic context as an important part of San Francisco’s counter-cultural history, as innovative for its time as the beat and hippie movements.

Ray’s photographs have been used in many magazines and books about the punk rock era and her historic documentation of underground punk rock music, art and culture in San Francisco from the 1970s and 1980s provides a rare insider’s look at this important time in the City’s musical history. Starting at the former Filipino supper club, the Mabuhay Gardens nightclub or “Fab Mab,” was the earliest home to some of the most important performing bands in punk rock. Later, the Deaf Club became a favorite, as the music moved to other venues such as the Temple Beautiful aka 1829 Geary St., the Sound of Music, 330 Grove St., and the Savoy Tivoli, all San Francisco venues for the punk rock music scene.

Based on Ray’s forthcoming book Punk Passage: California First Wave and Beyond, this exhibition gives San Francisco back some of its unsung punk history, which today is incredibly influential but generally underreported.

An additional display will be on view in the Main Library’s Lower Level Café, entitled Punk Penelope, featuring original artwork, albums and ephemera from the collection of Penelope Houston, singer/songwriter and founder of the punk rock band, The Avengers.

Related Programs

  • Meet the Artist: Photographer Ruby Ray

Sept. 15 at 5 p.m.

Jewett Gallery, Main Library

  • Punk Live on Film - Screenings of Louder, Faster, Shorter; Deaf Punk; and Insect Lounge Sally Remix 1978 followed by audience Q & A with filmmaker Mindy Bagdon and photographer Ruby Ray.

Oct. 7 at 6 p.m.

Koret Auditorium, Main Library

  • Gimme Something Better - Author reading and presentation by Jack Boulware and Silke Tudor. Book sale to follow.

Oct. 20 at 6 p.m.

Latino Hispanic Community Meeting Room, Main Library

  • West Coast Premiere of SF Punk - Screening of documentary film by Target Video followed by audience Q & A with photographer Ruby Ray and video producer Joe Rees.

Nov. 4 at 6 p.m.

Koret Auditorium, Main Library

  • Panel Discussion: Queer Punk

Panelists include KD Davis, bass player for Wilma and Impulse F, Debbie Hopkins, drummer for The Contractions and Jon Ginoli, founder of The Pansy Division.

Nov. 17 at 7 p.m.

Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Branch Library,

1 José Sarria Court at 16th Street

Take our survey