City Studio

Youth. Art. Activate.

Now in its 16th year, San Francisco Art Institute’s award-winning City Studio program engages underserved youth in their own neighborhoods through sequenced art classes that are both rigorous and joyous. Taught by working artists who create alongside the students; and extending its reach and impact through a range of organizational partnerships, City Studio nurtures a sense of self, encouraging young artists to find their voice; strengthening their conceptual thinking and foundational skills; and inspiring investment in a holistic creative life. 

Despite studies proving conclusively that underserved and at-risk youth benefit significantly from arts education and arts-rich experiences, ongoing budget constraints at public school's limit—and in some cases entirely sever—access. Particularly in California, a leader in innovation, this lack of arts exposure and instruction leaves many young people ill-equipped for today’s job market. The arts and creative sectors alone are significant employers, and the value of training in the arts reaches well beyond those arenas, as well, translating into preparation for a range of other fields. Art is also a powerful medium for finding your place in the world and making your own contributions. Through City Studio's responsive, collaborative and inter-generational approach, young people of all ages have worked side by side in afterschool programs, designed and created public murals, and exhibited their work in real-life art galleries and historic artists' homes and studios.

Current community partners include Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center, Collective Action Studio, Project Artivism, 500 Capp Street, Columbia Park Boys and Girls Club, Boys and Girls Club Beacon Program at Carver Elementary, Counterpulse and 201 Turk Street. Other community partners include SOMArts, Root Division, Mission Boys and Girls Club, Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, Willie Mays Boys and Girls Club at Hunters Point, African American Arts and Culture Center and Cleveland Elementary.

Thanks to the Institute for Museums and Library Services for their recent grant to City Studio and to Project Artivism and 500 Capp Street for their continued support of our efforts to create valuable programming for Bay Area youth. For more information, visit:


Image credit:
Young artists with their mentors at the SFAI Courtyard during an on campus tour of the murals. Photo by Amy Berk.

Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center MURAL

City Studio is thrilled to be working on a collaborative partnership with the Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center on a multigenerational community mural.  Thanks to Brown and Caldwell and SRT Consultants for their generosity for the mural costs and to San Francisco Unified for providing stipends for our eight teen mentors.  Over 100 youth ages 2-16 have participated in the mural in both the conception and production.  In addition, all of the stakeholders that utilize Tel-Hi have been included in the design process.  Big thanks to SFAI alum Christopher Williams and Oscar Lopez for their mural expertise, Julia Fairbrother for their documentation and to collaborative partner teen specialist Jamon Tyrus for his incredible community support!  And to all the youth of Tel-Hi who participated (including a trip to SFAI to view the Diego Rivera mural and the recently discovered murals in the tunnels)!  Mural opening information coming soon! 


Image credit:
Young artists working on the Tel-Hi Neighborhood Center Mural Project. Photo by Amy Berk.

City Studio and the David Ireland House at Columbia House Boys and Girls Club

City Studio is excited to continue its long relationship with the Columbia Park Boys and Girls Club with this summer program in concert with the David Ireland House.  For six weeks, artists guides from the DI house travelled to Columbia Park to engage their middle schoolers with conceptual art projects, ideas and ideals. Youth toured the David Ireland house, made dumbballs, collaborated on exquisite corpses, went on artist-in-residence David Wilson's "Sitings" art walk and made wire "drawings." Program culminated with an ad-hoc exhibition at the Columbia Park Boys and Girls Club, just 10 minutes walk from the David Ireland House.  More collaborative programs for youth and their families who utilize Columbia Park are being planned for the next year.


Image credit:
Young artists during a workshop at the Columbia Park Boys and Girls club. Photo by Amy Berk.

Carver Elementary

Once again City Studio is thrilled to be a part of the Boys and Girls Program Summer Beacon Program at Carver Elementary.  Young upcoming artist and SFAI alum Fredi Lopez leads sculptural projects to these keen young artists.  Cyanotypes, wire sculptures, paper mache and a collaborative mixed media exploration were all in the curriculum this summer.

Image credit:
Young artists during the collaborative mixed-media exploration workshop at Carver Elementary. Photo by Amy Berk.

News + Upcoming

City Studio is excited to continue its longstanding relationship with Tenderloin youth at Crafty Kids at 201 Turk Street.  SFAI alum Tara Daly has planned a robust crochet program for the many kids that live at 201 Turk, home of the Tenderloin Boys and Girls Club, one of City Studio's oldest collaborative partners.  Check back for images when the program commences next week!

And check back for the last Remote Life-Drawing episodes (coming soon!) 

And look out for our new website!  Thanks to Cate Nelson for her efforts in updating our online presence. 

Finally, we are excited to welcome SFAI Board of Director's President back to SFAI.  Professor Lonnie Graham has a long history working with underserved teens in a truly generous and profound way and we are thrilled to showcase his amazing Ted talk.