SFWA Past and Present

A presence in the San Francisco arts community for over a century, San Francisco Women Artists (SFWA), a nonprofit (501(c)(3) organization, believes the creative and transformative power of artists inspires us, provides needed insight, and connects the human family. Historically a thriving mecca for artists, writers, and musicians, San Francisco once had affordable spaces for these artists to live, work, perform, or exhibit. Such places are rapidly disappearing. SFWA is one of the few remaining community-based art galleries in the City where local artists may show and sell their work in a professional and welcoming community centered arts space.


The mission of San Francisco Women Artists is to support, promote and expand the representation of women in the arts and encourage a diversity of aspiring artists at various stages of their careers. It provides juried exhibitions and events in a gallery setting that foster a shared, cultural relationship between our artists and the public. While our focus is women, SFWA welcomes Bay Area artists of all genders to join our community of artists.


Today and tomorrow, San Francisco Women Artists  will continue to stand in solidarity with those demanding an end to the racial injustice and systemic racism that is an original sin of our nation’s long history. We still suffer from the moral poison of white supremacy and its consequent patriarchy. To truly advance the embrace and realization of racial diversity, access, inclusion, and access, SFWA believes that Art and Artists must continue to be a vibrant path expressing that embrace, being that realization.

Committed to a sustained effort to foster positive social change through art, SFWA artists have throughout its over a century history been at the forefront, challenging both cultural and social hierarchies to effect positive change. Resolving deeply ingrained patterns and structures of inequality will take sustained attention and dedication, and to this end, SFWA invites and welcomes Bay Area artists of all genders and racial identities as it actively promotes equity in the arts for all people.


Today, more than ever, we are in need of the unique power of art to recreate unifying bonds among all people by imagining, reflecting, and expanding the shared human experience. SFWA hosts monthly themed juried exhibits and regional art competitions, provides space rentals, mentors student interns, features hand-crafted jewelry, ceramics, sculpture and glass art. We are committed to ensure the continuation of our living legacy as we support women artists and provide a welcoming gallery space in which the wider community may experience the vivifying and humanizing influence of art created by women.


We can measure the success of SFWA in-house and outreach programs by our increase in growth and diversity of our membership. Artists ranging in age from 18 to 96 are supported by SFWA providing them with a caring community and a beautiful venue where their art may be exhibited. Our success is seen in the positive results of our efforts in the development of new community partnerships and by our expanded visibility and presence in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Success is found in seeing our artists exhibiting their work, celebrating their first sales, seeing their artwork displayed on a major San Francisco street’s banners or featured on the Gallery postcards or media posts. Since relocating in 2015,  SFWA has sold over $275,000 of artists’ work,  plus provided $10,000 in stipends from our GFTA Neighborhood Arts Collaborative projects. 


Student Intern Program– SFWA partners withthe Mayor’s Youth Education & Employment Program(MYEEP) and San Francisco’s Mercy High School “Women in the Arts” program to provide job readiness training, work experience and personal growth opportunities for San Francisco youth. Training in-house for up to 5 hours per week, students learn through hands-on experience gallery dynamics: small business operations, marketing and sales, art fashion and styles, even curating an exhibition of student artworks, carrying out the installation and promotion of the show, and planning the reception where student artists are given an opportunity to discuss their work.

Artist Talks and Demonstrations– Throughout the year, SFWA engages the community by providing the venue for educational presentations on significant topics. Our SFWA artists  conduct  “artist-in-action” demonstrations that engages and educates the community about a variety of artistic techniques in painting, sculpture and photography, including encaustic art, glass art, and jewelry making.

Professional Development Workshops– Open to the public, SFWA offers regular workshops and classes throughout the year.


SFWA, founded as the “Sketch Club” in 1887, began as an independent group of women artists who met to share and critique one another’s work, and eventually evolved into the organization we know today. Having previously maintained galleries in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley and Presidio Heights, SFWA relocated in 2015 to San Francisco’s vibrant Inner Sunset community, where we are becoming an anchor in its evolving arts community. SFWA is proud of its heritage and its many former members, including prominent artists Ruth Asawa, Dorr Bothwell, Imogen Cunningham, Eleanor Dickenson, Claire Falkenstein, Emmy Lou Packard, Dorothy Winslade, and Ruth Bernhard.

San Francisco Women Artists receives support from foundations, sponsors, individuals, and  SF Grants for the Arts, Neighborhood Arts Collaborative and the Voluntary Arts Contribution Fund.

In 2014, the internationally acclaimed graphic design team, Studio Hinrichs, selected SF Women Artists to create a rebranding – pro bono. Our symbol represents multiple artists joined in alliance. Within the modern symbol, three triangles form a “W” and an “A” shape and can be expressed in three dimensions.

In grateful memory of Virginia Dorn, 1916 – 2011, a generous guiding light and inspiration for SFWA

More about SWFA