Inner Richmond’s new art studio space is a ‘work in progress’ – Richmond Review/Sunset Beacon

By Gui Oliveira

Usually, when a new business opens in the neighborhood, it does so with the intention of making a profit. Work in Progress, a new community hub located in the Inner Richmond, is taking another swipe at defining success.

Nora Bruhn is co-owner and operator of Work In Progress in Inner Richmond. Pictures of Gui Oliveira.

“Work in Progress has many faces,” said Nora Bruhn, co-owner and operator of Work in Progress. “It’s our studio, but we also organize events here; music, we had a storytelling evening, a poetry evening. We really want it to be a place of art and creation, and a place where the community can come and host, if they wish.

Bruhn and his partner, businessman and romantic, Joel Millikan, are artists working in San Francisco. Bruhn, a Minnesota native, attended USF graduate school for 30 days before dropping out to pursue a different career in art. She currently works full time painting murals. Milliken grew up in Texas and went to art school in San Francisco. He is a manufacturer who often works with metal and wood to create architectural pieces. Millikan is also part of the Burning Man community.

The studio was owned by San Francisco painter Jay Mercado, who worked in the space for 16 years. Bruhn met Mercado in a fortuitous moment when she went to see her friend perform in space. She was already looking for an art space. Her friend introduced her to Mercado and the two became kindred spirits. Mercado mentioned that he was going to move. After a few weeks, Bruhn inquired about the studio with Mercado, who chose her as the new owner.

“They brought magic to this corner at a time when magic is needed in the community,” Mercado said.

The interior of Work in Progress serves as a studio workspace for Bruhn and Millikan. They decorated the space with a collection of furniture, plants, objects, artwork and more, in a dynamic, relaxed and welcoming way. Besides being a muralist, Bruhn is also a herbalist. She loves taking people on scent tours of plants and introducing them to different scents.

“Let’s embrace the old, so I wanted to paint this wall and I wanted it to feel kind of distressed,” Brun said. “I wanted to do something with exposed brickwork. And one thing led to the next and led to the next – everything informed the next decision we made – and I knew I wanted to look at natural fibers, natural materials, non-synthetic stuff, but we just wanted it to be cozy and intimate.

One of the main goals of Work in Progress is to blossom into something that is intended to serve the community in a meaningful way. For owners, seeing a positive change in the community takes priority over making a profit margin. Bruhn said it was not a “stuffy gallery” for art lovers.

“Yeah, we’re not super defined here at Work in Progress, so we’re going to evolve,” Bruhn said. “What we’re really open to is catering to what people want and what works, rather than trying to make a hard number of sales. Money is not really the intention. It’s more about growing the community. A lot of people don’t start businesses like that.

Since opening day February 18, they have held various community gatherings: a movie night, live performances, an open mic night and more, with more events in the future to include family activities. .

With no official opening hours, they decided to stay open on Sundays so people could come in and say hello.

“I just hope to be a space that helps people lean more into their imaginations and just be a hub for people to express themselves and be together in intimate places to hang out,” Bruhn said. “I want to teach people about plants, herbalism. I want it to be a welcoming space. When we are here, we have the doors open. if someone wants to come and chat with us, if I’m there I’m available for that. I’ll give you my attention if you want to pass.

Work in Progress is located at 4752 California St. on 10th Avenue. Learn more about Work in Progress on Instagram @workinprogress_sf.

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