The art gallery, bar, and dancehall 111 Minna has survived COVID, a fire, and an ownership change, and honors its three decades of SF nightlife with a Thursday night party and gallery show that’s “30 years in the making.”
A bar that’s also an art gallery is not a conventional idea, but the storied SoMa venue 111 Minna has managed to pull it off for now 30 years. “There was a time that we went through when some of the art galleries in town said we weren’t a real art gallery because we had drinks,” current 111 Minna co-owner Michelle Delaney said in a 2020 Storied: San Francisco podcast. “We were like, what are you talking about? You have drinks, just not legally!”
111 Minna will be celebrating its 30th anniversary Thursday night with a 111 Minna Gallery 30 Year Anniversary Exhibition. True to the venue’s form, it will be a rager with art from local legends like Jeremy Fish and Winston Smith, and DJ sets by Roger Bellagio and Brian Brooks.
Delaney has not always been the co-owner of 111 Minna. She came over as a bartender from the nearby Steff’s Sports Bar in the year 2000. It was the venue's founder Eiming Jung who had the initial vision of a gallery, bar, and dance club. “He’s a great guy, he loves art, he’s an artist. But he also loves fun,” Delaney told Storied: San Francisco. Jung moved to Cambodia in the early 2000s, effectively leaving Delaney to run the place.
And she turned it into the 111 Minna we know today: once the home to the beloved longtime Wednesday night happy hour rager Qoöl, dance nights like the old 90s revival party Club 1992, and a gallery that’s hosted our favorites like trash collage artist Jason Mecier.
Delaney became co-owner along with David Scott Mabry and Alex Kivelstadt in 2018, and it seemed like nothing but better days were ahead.
“2019 went exceedingly well, better than anticipated,” Kivelstadt told Storied: San Francisco. “And to be fair, 2020, prior to COVID, was looking to be just as good if not better than 2019. Everything was full force going forward, we were like, this is amazing, we’re going to have another banner year.”
But then, you know…
“We never considered not making it,” Kivelstadt added. “We were like, no, we’re going to do this. We’re going to scrap together whatever we have to to make sure this institution survives.”
Before 111 Minna could even reopen, they were dealt another blow when the place suffered a fire in January 2021. Their original wood flooring was destroyed, but only one piece of art was damaged, and the club reopened in January 2022.
"Minna has had this really weird, beautiful but eerie blessing," Delaney told Bay City News at the time. "We've had these insane dance parties, and the art has always been fine."
And the art, music, drinks, plus old and new friends will all be fine at Thursday’s 30th anniversary party and exhibition, billed as “30 years in the making,” featuring more than two dozen of the top local artists who’ve displayed their work there.
111 Minna Gallery 30 Year Anniversary Exhibition is Thursday, October 12, at 111 Minna, 5 -10 p.m.
Image: Irene Z. via Yelp