November 16, 2010

One big, happy, family. We live here: SF.

Julie Michelle has changed my life. I remember the day I first stumbled upon i live here: SF, her beautiful photography art project/blog/collaboration documenting San Francisco residents and allowing each to tell their “San Francisco” story. At the time, I was stalking the twitter feeds of cool SF art organizations, trying to manifest more collaboration in my San Francisco life, and –BAM!– up pops this link to Julie Michelle’s site.  I look back on that day in the same way one marvels at how they met their lover—it seems so random, so fortuitous, yet so inevitable.  I was fascinated.

I  spent three hours that first day, scrolling through the pages of her jaw-droppingly gorgeous photographs of interesting-looking SF residents, each one  accompanied by their personal, touching, funny, sad, or conflicted story of their San Francisco life. Wow. How easy it is to submerge yourself in the lives and images of your neighbors when they all appear so magical in their own unique ways.  Julie is amazing at capturing the truth in someone: that special sparkle in their smile, that laughter in their wrinkles, that struggle in their hearts. And she does it with such joy, somehow gaining private access into the depths of her subjects’ souls and pulling out what is most important.

On a whim, I found the “participate” page and shot her an e-mail immediately, begging her to let me play too.  And so I became a page in her anthology, one of many in her widespread collection of faces, locations and words. I was honored. Our photo shoot was bliss, and before I knew it, we were friends! She came to shoot a fashion show of mine, we dreamed of collaborative business plans, and she invited me to a networking event she was hosting.

She is the ultimate matchmaker, selflessly connecting those around her to make for a more dynamic world.  She has introduced me to some of the most interesting people I know here in San Francisco, including the fabulous fashion and lifestyle bloggers Annie (Poetic & Chic) Catie (Cuffington) and Stuart (Broke-Ass Stuart), artists Eden (Secession Art), Dottie (Dottie Lou Photography) and Amber (Wiz Bang), and friends like Catherine (French Feng Shui), Iran, Rebecca, Mary, Jax… Oh My! I can’t even begin to name them all.

We are a new kind of family. We support one another. We laugh with one another. We collaborate with one another. We are all connected, even though some I have never met before. And all because Julie Michelle decided to start taking pictures of San Franciscans, and helping us to share our stories.

Catherine, Annie, Iran and I at the i live here: SF Retrospective!

This month, Julie’s fantastic i live here: SF photographs (186 to be exact) are featured in a breath-taking Restrospective show at SOMArts Gallery, one of my favorite urban art spaces. Her colorful portraits, along with a Muni Bus Stop, a wooden bench, and an iconic SF Art Car, fill the cavernous room. The photos seem to jump off the walls and the diversity they represent shows Julie’s true sense of community.

At the opening earlier this month, the entire room was abuzz with energy and hugs. Lot and lots of hugs.  It was exciting to see people reading each other’s stories, and picking out strangers they recognized from the blog. Silvi (another sweet Julie-inspired friend) was writing custom poetry from her adorable little Poetry Store nestled in the bus stop. Artwork based on the blog’s stories (Chris Rusak) and San Francisco video art (Rick Prelinger) added to the wall adornment.  A street-food truck was slinging tasty delights out front. And Julie was wearing a dress that I made especially for her.  This was collaboration at its highest.

The show continues all month long, and there are still lots of fun events yet to come, so whether you are a San Franciscan, or just passing through, you MUST stop by the “I live here: SF” Restrospective. You never know…it just might change your life!

Julie Michelle, addressing the crowd at her opening.

Upcoming i live here: SF Events

Wednesday, November 17: Muni Time Capsule and Happy Hour! 5-8pm

Thursday, November 18: Writing Workshop 5-7pm

Saturday, November 20: Uncommon Cultures 2-4pm

Tuesday, November 30: Closing Night Reception 5-7pm

Visit i live here: SF for more information. Check out Julie’s femme fotographie site, as well as her blog, julie lives here. Follow her on twitter @Juliemichelle. Read a killer interview with her on SFist and Poetic & Chic. See my favorite picture of her. Love her. I do.

*Top photo of Julie Michelle by Tenderblog’s Elia Varela Serra.

*Party Photographs by the lovely Catherine Grison.

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