Stretcher’s mission is to encourage dialog about contemporary art and visual culture in the San Francisco Bay Area. As one of the first online publications in the area, Stretcher covered visual arts and culture in the international art community centered in the San Francisco Bay Area through its online site, live public events, and related media projects. By increasing the reach and visibility of Bay Area conversations, reflections, and criticism, Stretcher stimulates creative development, enhancing the intensity, focus, and relevance of art to the issues faced by our community. The archives serve artists and researchers, drawing thousands of readers each month.
For over ten years Stretcher has encouraged dialog about contemporary art and visual culture in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Appearing online in 2001, Stretcher has published hundreds of features, reviews, and artists’ projects as well as of shorter blog entries; participated in two major exhibitions, organized or participated in dozens of public panels, talks, and presentations to students; taught a class through U.C. Berkeley Extension in conjunction with Bay Area Now 4, and continues to attract thousands of viewers per week to the website. Through publication and projects, Stretcher has made a significant contribution to the self-definition, the visibility, and the vibrancy of ideas in circulation in the visual arts community.
Stretcher was and remains a collaboration with the local, national and international arts community. This bit of text culled from Stretcher’s first issue speaks to how stretcher was conceived and is still true today:
“Please let us know what you think, what you would like to see, what works, what doesn’t. Stretcher is a collaborative work in progress, an “experiment” in form. The medium itself becomes an art form conceived to be “finished” by the viewer/reader through parallel layers, open ended questions and emerging connections.”
It is our hope that dialogue continues to flourish and that communities continue to intersect and learn from one another. Stretcher acknowledges all of the hard work of the many artists, writers, supporters and viewers that have participated in Stretcher in one way or another, helping to create a rich legacy, one that continues to inform and contribute to the vibrancy and visibility of the Bay Area arts community.
In 1999 when we began discussing a design for Stretcher, we knew we wanted something fresh, engaging and different. Something fit for a cutting-edge, contemporary visual arts magazine covering the richness and diversity of Bay Area visual culture. Artists Rex Ray and Ali Sant contributed the first early sketches. Then we met designer Tonita Abeyta, who took everyone’s ideas and offered three design directions. In typical artist fashion, the group naturally chose the most wild, visually striking, structurally impractical possibility. This became the model for our first launch in 2001 and remained the graphic foundation of the site until 2010.
More than ten years later, massive change is everywhere. We see it in everything from the Bay Area art publishing community to the very nature of the web itself. Clearly, deep changes for Stretcher were long overdue. Through the generous support of Southern Exposure’s Alternative Exposure grant program, we set out to remake Stretcher with three main goals. For us, the publishers, a simple, modern publishing system that fits our increasingly busy lives. For our community of writers and contributing artists, a sustainable archive that gives their work a permanent home. And for you our readers, a clean, easy-to-navigate structure that highlights what’s new, makes it easy to find what you’re looking for, and reveals gems from the past.
We had the pleasure of working with an extraordinary team to make this all possible. Scott Thorpe of MacFadden & Thorpe took our somewhat vague direction (“same feel, different look”) and gave us the dynamic new design you see today; a design that maintains our visual identity, clearly organizes the content, and shows you something new every time you visit.
Our developer Josh Rubinstein chose a powerful, state-of-the-art CMS platform and built us a thoughtful, modular, architecture that gives the site maximum flexibility now, and will serve it well into the future.
We’re thrilled with the results and hope you’ll enjoy them too. So poke around the archives and check back regularly for new stuff. It’s an exciting time for Bay Area art publishing and an exciting time for us. Welcome to the new Stretcher!