Biography

Kate Connell and Oscar Melara, collaborating as Book and Wheel, have rooted their practice in Southeast San Francisco since 1996. Native San Franciscans, they met as artists in San Francisco’s Mission District, where Oscar co-founded La Raza Silkscreen Center and Kate worked for the Galería de la Raza. The name of their collaboration, Book and Wheel, comes from their past professions as a librarian and a bus driver. It reflects their interests in artists books, cycling and mobile cultural platforms. As long-term union members, they consider the community of colleagues and neighbors they collaborate with as their Laborhood. They’ve created narrative and participatory maps, an artist book reference collection for the local library, games, murals and events. They collaborate with visual and performing artists, writers, libraries and trade unions. Book and Wheel has been supported by the Creative Work Fund, San Francisco Arts Commission, Southern Exposure/Alternative Exposure, Zellerbach Family Foundation, Fleishhacker Foundation and local institutions. They were commissioned artists of the 2012 Havana Biennal and their work has appeared in Public Art Review, Race, Poverty and the Environment and the San Francisco Chronicle. Between them they have degrees Community Arts Management, Political Science, Library Science and Art History.

The image is of a neon sign that reads "Laborhood" in red against a dark background.

Statement

“Can we build a collective cultural life in Southeast San Francisco?” This question has guided our work since 2014. We’re building connections with our neighbors, a participatory public and artists working here, in Southeast SF. We want to hear how all of our voices sound together. Our goal is a regional grass roots cultural life. Our public projects help fill the need for formal cultural institutions in our part of the city. We engage in collaborations across the four working-class neighborhoods of the Bayview/Hunters Point,  the Excelsior District, the Portola District and Visitacion Valley in Southeast San Francisco. The vitality of our region is expressed in the new work we commission from a multigenerational roster of local artists. It is reflected in our personal studio practices. We employ a variety of strategies– mobile cultural platforms with live events, participatory mapping, games, and a growing regional print portfolio. We’re launching an online art trading project to promote cultural production during shelter-in-place and in to the future. We began our careers as community-based artists and embrace collaboration, place keeping, situationism and social practice.

Some favorite projects: locally, Zaccho Theater’s Picture Bayview and The Commons Archive; in Cuba, the work of our 2012 collaborator: Laboratorio Artistico de San Agustin; Lenka Clayton and Jon Rubin’s …circle through New York; and projects with libraries like the past Biblioteca Mobil de Alumnos 47  and Stony Island Arts Bank along with so many more.

We are a member of Intersection for the Arts. Intersection for the Arts is a historic arts nonprofit that provides people working in arts and culture with fiscal sponsorship and resources to grow.

We’re guests on traditional, unceded Ramaytush Ohlone Land.