In San Francisco's main shopping district where chain stores rule, Jessica Silverman's gallery-slash-boutique is a stylishly defiant oasis of independent art and fashion. Silverman, 25, who's been at it since she opened the original location in 2006, moved from a blink-and-you'll-miss-it space in the remote Dogpatch neighborhood to a high-ceilinged storefront near Union Square last week. (And she's happy that they have good neighbors: sneaker freaker retail haven Huf is right next door.) The gallery's first big show, Symptom of the Universe
, is a solo exhibition by Mary Elizabeth Yarbrough, whose diverse selection of mixed-media sculptures and wall-mounted works explore the concept of unseen phenomena. There is a back room, where other artists the gallery represents, such as Vanessa Albury and Yuval Pudik, are always on display.
Although (or perhaps because) Look Boutique, the other component of Silverman's space, is walk-in-closet tiny—a scant few racks of shirts and dresses, a bookshelf, and a display case or two—it is stocked with an exceptional selection of one-off, one-of-a-kind, or impossible-to-find stuff: a slew of art and culture 'zines, talismanic pendants from Kim Ann Foxman, and clothes from handful of small independent labels here and abroad. There are marvelously draped frocks from French label Heimstone befitting punk-rock nymphets and body-hugging dresses from Aussie designer Jessie Hill inspired by Blade Runner
. There are also T-shirts from We Are Married that are several IQ points smarter than the average silkscreened variety and buttery-soft reindeer leather bracelets from Sweden.
And as much of a feat as it is bringing Henry Holland's sought-after nu-rave-flavored tees to Northern California (which they successfully did), the real triumph are the dresses by Zoe Alexander. Look's creative director Carolina Amaris spied the 17-year-old girl at an art event wearing a silver paper bag-waisted dress that Amaris thought was Lanvin. When she learned that Alexander had designed and made the dress herself, she took the local high-schooler under her wing. Presto! Six new dresses for the store, and a new batch of different dresses are currently in the works. Best get one now, so you can say you knew her back when.
Silverman Gallery + Look Boutique
804 Sutter Street, San Francisco