SF Conceptual Artist Discusses Why He’s Giving Away His Work

Over the decades he’s worked as an artist, Ronald Chase says he has accumulated too much of his own work.

Now that he’s almost 80, the San Francisco-based conceptual artist has decided to strike a deal with his local community: he will give you a piece of his art for free, if you promise to frame it well and never sell it. And if you get tired of it, Chase insists that you must pass it along to a friend.

On Saturday, August 2, Chase will open his Mission District studio to the public and give away more than 500 abstract pieces of his work first-come-first-serve.

To him, the event is an investment in his own work — giving a longer life to hundreds of pieces that have never before been exhibited in galleries.

Chase said he hopes these gifts of art will not only make the practice of collecting art more attainable, but also prompt a discussion about what makes things valuable.

This is par for the course for Chase, who has made a life of making art more accessible to the public, taking young people to galleries, performances and film openings every week for free through the program San Francisco Art & Film For Teenagers.

“People have to experience art before it becomes a part of their lives,” said Chase, noting the importance of art in San Francisco’s culture.

According to Chase, artists will always be the “pollinators of something interesting” and give people reason to move to an area. However, no one has to be a millionaire to become an art collector, Chase said, citing his give-away as proof.

Chase will begin the event in front of 540 Alabama Street (at Mariposa) in San Francisco at noon on Saturday. He asks all those who come to be patient.

For more about his work, below is a short documentary on Chase by Christoph Helms:

  • Ahmed Alyousifi

    What a generous artist and human being you are Mr. Chase. I really admire your unique generosity and wish you a long and healthy life.

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