Keith Secola is an artist that resides in San Francisco belongs to the Ute Indian tribe and Anishanabe Nation. He shares with us how San Francisco inspires his artwork.

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October 11, 2019

How I See San Francisco: Keith Secola

Keith Secola belongs to the Ute Indian tribe and Anishanabe Nation. He graduated from California College of the Arts in San Francisco in 2018, with a focus on silkscreen printing. Finding a balance between contemporary life and tradition, Keith blends printmaking, archival photography, illustrations, and murals derived from Native American life to transmit indigenous voices and identity. Keith shares how San Francisco has influenced his art and why it's a great city for everyone looking for artistic inspiration.

What does a typical day in San Francisco look like for you?

Get a skate session in or cruise around the streets with music on before heading to the print studio to do some work.

Which neighborhood, other than your own, do you like to explore?

I like to explore the Mission the most and get involved in events there. I’m Native American and I can relate with many people and the cultures in that neighborhood. I just painted a mural for Clarion Alley Mural Project near 17th and Mission streets. It was an amazing experience working within that community. 

Where do you indulge in your artistic side in San Francisco?

Just walking around the Mission, seeing all the beautiful murals and street art that runs through the neighborhood. I like to take in the size and scale of the work to help motivate and push my own practice, but trips to the beach and Golden Gate Park are refreshing, too.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Places like SOMArts Cultural Center. I have worked with them a couple times, once for the Murphy & Cadogan Bay Area Scholarship exhibition in 2017. When I was studying at California College of the Arts that exhibition helped build community with other Bay Area art students, some that are my good friends today. I’m very inspired by my peers and mentors. Other places I like are Guerrero Gallery, Root-Division, Patricia Sweetow Gallery, and The Luggage Store Gallery.

What informs your art?

My Native upbringing and life have always given my artwork direction. My recent projects have involved a dive into my Ute Indian family’s history and archival photo albums from my grandparents to bring forward my tribe’s narrative. My printmaking practice helps me understand a deeper knowledge of my own identity, the power of memory, and the importance of family.

Where can visitors to San Francisco see your work?

I will have work in SOMArts' upcoming "Dia De Los Muertos: City of Souls" exhibition, Oct. 12 - Nov. 8, 2019. 

What's your favorite annual event that happens in San Francisco?

My favorite would be the Sun Rise Ceremonies at Alcatraz Island. This event happens on Thanksgiving and Indigenous Peoples' Day. People can ride a ferry to the Island for a prayer ceremony. It shows the presence of the American Indian Community and our tribal practices with land. It’s important in my Ute Culture to rise with the sun and pray to the East. This is an opportunity to do that, while meeting other cultures and supporters of our movements.

Where would you have your last meal in San Francisco?

Probably Brenda’s French Soul food in the Tenderloin. Fried chicken on eggs benedict or a hangtown fry.

Where do you like to view sunrise and sunset?

I love to view sunrise from my window to help me wake up, and sunset at Ocean Beach—hopefully while cruising around on the skateboard.

What should every visitor to San Francisco do at least once?

I think everyone should enjoy a day at Ocean Beach or Baker Beach for some amazing views and to unwind.

Any final advice for visitors coming to San Francisco?

Have an open mind and embrace all the different cultures and ways people choose to live their lives. You can experience a lot for free and explore by simply walking or skating around.

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