San Francisco Public Library

Kiki Gallery

Photograph of Joan Jett-Blakk and Babette: Hosts of talkshow/performance series produced by Rick Jacobsen, circa 1993
Joan Jett-Blakk and Babette, c.1993
Hosts of talkshow/performance series produced by Rick Jacobsen
Gelatin silver print
A small gallery located in San Francisco’s Mission District, the Kiki Gallery was a provocative, intelligent presence in the Bay Area art community from 1993 to 1995. Kiki’s founder and director, Rick Jacobsen, shaped a lively program of exhibitions, readings, and performances by emerging artists. The confluence of innovative art, gay culture, and performance that was distinctive to Kiki had its antecedents in the mid-1950s projects of King Ubu Gallery and Six Gallery. In these pioneering artist-run spaces, Jack Spicer, Robert Duncan, Jess, Wally Hedrick, Jay De Feo, Allen Ginsberg, and others presented and supported one another’s work. The same creative energies effloresced in the theatre of the Cockettes, in the conceptual art and performance movement of the 1970s, and in the rich history of alternative art spaces in the Bay Area. These energies had a brilliant, though brief, flowering at Kiki. The gallery became highly regarded for its director’s imagination and fearlessness in presenting challenging new work.

Cover of
Wayne Smith
Sick Joke, 1993
catalogue cover
In its existence of only twenty-two months, Kiki was known for many memorable shows and events, beginning with the exhibitions Caca @ Kiki and ending with Piece: Nine Artists Consider Yoko Ono. The archives includes: exhibition catalogues (Sick Joke, Fresh Produce), publicity materials (Late Night with Joan Jett Blakk), performance stills (David E. Johnston’s Gone Dollywood), original art (Keith Mayerson’s Pinocchio the Big Fag), and snapshots of Rick Jacobsen with Jerome Caja’s work installed for the exhibition Toilet Water, seen in the background.