Mission Street from 16th to 24th is a unique stretch of the city. The streets are too rough to skateboard on, the 14 rushes by every few minutes, and the storefronts are a jumble of the historical and the new. Among the taquerias and discount stores, John and Jessica Trippe recently opened the latest location of their Fecal Face Dot Gallery. It’s something of a link between the old and contemporary versions of the neighborhood, a voice for the next generation of artists and thinkers based on old-school ideals of hard work. On a block not exactly known for contemporary art galleries, they have planted their flag.
It’s the third spot for the gallery in a year. John and Jessica moved FFDG from its original space in Hayes Valley into Lower Haight, only to have to relocate again due to the fire at Haight and Fillmore last fall. After temporarily setting up shop on Clement Street in the Inner Richmond, John and Jessica have a permanent home now at 2277 Mission St. It's a simple, cozy space that formerly housed a travel agency and now welcomes guests to explore something a little different.
In a city that hosts gallery receptions practically every weekend, it's tough to stand out. Half the time people show up just to drink and hang out, and barely even look at the art. The FFDG shows I’ve been lucky enough to attend have always been top-notch, though. It showcases new work by heavy hitters, people who’ve inspired me like Tobin Yelland and Boogie.
On a recent evening, I dropped by a couple hours before the first show at the brand new spot to chat with John – who founded the gallery and Fecalface.com, the website it sprang from – about skateboarding, art, and of course, his cat Poo.
John tells me Fecal Face was launched as a zine back in 1997 when he was doing magazine layout for Thrasher. The brand has of course grown since then to become a website, gallery, and staple among the street art scene not only in SF but also in the artistic community at large. John and the FF crew have helped advance the careers of many up-and-coming artists, including Jeremy Fish, Jeff Soto, and Jay Howell.
His original idea was to create and edit his own magazine, featuring things that interested him outside of skateboarding, like photography and art. By 2000 the Internet was taking off and John turned the printed mag into an online publication. The name Fecal Face began as a joke, by the way. "It rolls off the tongue, and it keeps away the normals," says John.
Visitors to Fecalface.com can find a list of artistic events and happenings, arts news and interviews, photos, and images of graffiti and street art. Pics of John's cat Poo, who has become a bit of a mascot, have also been known to show up at semi-frequent intervals. The site offers so much multimedia content, which is updated daily, that it’s easy to get sucked in. Twelve years after launching, Fecalface.com attracts 11,000–13,000 visitors daily.
The gallery picks up where the website leaves off, offering people a chance to get up close and personal with the work in a relaxed neighborhood environment.
At the time of this writing, FFDG had hosted two openings, both of which were bonkers. The crowds come in part because they trust John’s curatorial tastes. He’s always been focused on featuring artists from the odd ends of the spectrum – the outcasts and weirdos – a direct result of a youth spent skateboarding in Ohio and Maryland. The one thread between them all, he tells me, is "sincerity in what they do, and pure talent with color and form. I spend a lot of time looking at art and it's clear when someone's doing it right."
It's nice to have such a rad gallery in the neighborhood, a place where I can pop in on a whim and see artistic endeavors of such high quality and friendly faces to go with them. It's also inspiring to see someone who was able to trust his instincts and take an idea, run with it, and build something SF residents and web surfers worldwide can really enjoy.
The next time you find yourself around Mission and 19th Street, do yourself a favor and pop into FFDG and say hi to John, his lovely wife Jessica, and their cat Poo. Better yet, stop in at Taqueria Cancun across the street, grab a burrito, and check out one of FFDG’s opening receptions.
Fecal Face is here to stay. Score one for the weirdos.