R.I.P Jack Davis
Word filters in from friends that an icon of the local arts underground has passed away, that being a big man with big impact, Jack Davis.
Whether you remember him onstage coordinating acts at the early SF Blues Festivals, or from behind the scenes at The Farm or SOMArts Cultural Center or serving as Commodore of The Bayview Boat Club or perhaps on the Mayor’s recent Arts Task Force, he was a hard working, (for awhile hard drinking) and truly memorable spirit serving this city over at least the last 35 some years. He lived out by the houseboats near Pac Bell, in a community of renegade spirits, and was a true character, of the kind that cannot ever be recreated.
Not to be confused with the notorious local political consultant of the same name, this Jack Davis was known for his many contributions to the local arts scene, serving on the boards of organizations like S.F Mime Troupe and in the 1970’s helped get Intersection For The Arts off the ground. He was actually instrumental in helping so many groups and creative spirits it’s hard to document the contributions, including helping launch the four art cultural centers in the city, and he did so without divisive power squabbles, ugly ego or taking undue credit. The well liked guy’s heart just finally gave out last weekend, apparently while driving, almost a year to the week that a previous heart attack had set him back.
sadly, SOMarts annual Day of The Dead exhibit curated by Rene Yanez will have one more addition to mourn…
After the jump… there’s an excerpt of an excellent tribute piece written by John Law last year, after Jack had suffered his first heart attack.
In any town, any scene, any time, you can count on the fingers of one hand the largely unheralded folks that facilitate almost everything thing of note that happens. They are there early on, giving quiet, confident encouragement – and, as importantly for starving artists, the occasional big break in event cost or maybe various services provided but somehow unbilled. These two or three princes never expect anything in return other than to watch the blossoming and growth of what they consider to be (and usually are) the most worthy enterprises. Other’s who “make things happen” the individuals, deserving or not who do get the lion’s share of the credit – you know who they are – they’re in the papers, on the radio, these folks know who those two or three are and always owe them a debt.
Jack Davis is one of those princes. At crucial points in the life of almost any significant Frisco art endeavor/scene/ organization (underground or established,) Jack has, in some capacity, small or gigantic, been pivotal in its life and growth. As Director of SomArts Gallery in SOMA for the last twenty years, one of the largest, best and most easily accessible art/event/party places in the City, Jack and his wonderful staff have given untold thousands of nascent artists, community groups and provocateurs their first big or pivotal show and a grand forum for promulgating their ideas and spirit in the local scene. Many of these individuals and organizations have moved on to national prominence. Following is a very small sampling of groups that benefited from Jacks involvement and/or support: The Neighborhood Arts Program (one of the founders) this group kicked off most of local Cultural Centers, Intersection for the Arts (past Director,) S.F. Mime Troupe (Board Member,) Burning Man (first big in-town events in the early 90’s were at SOMARTs for extremely low cost,) Day of the Dead, The Farm, Pickle Family Circus, Make a Circus, DanceMission, Cellspace, S.F. Pride, Survival Research Labs (Jack held the cops off while Mark and crew got away!) The list goes on & on.
– John Law