Rent spike forces cartoon museum from San Francisco space

AP News
Posted: Apr 24, 2015 10:31 AM
Rent spike forces cartoon museum from San Francisco space

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — There's nothing funny about the uncertain transition of the Cartoon Art Museum.

The San Francisco facility bills itself as the only museum in the West dedicated to preserving and sharing "cartoon art in all its forms."

Over the past 30 years, it has exhibited editorial cartoons, comic books, graphic novels, anime, Sunday funnies, Saturday morning cartoons and other works. It also boasts a research library (what's Porky Pig's signature slogan again?) and a 7,000-piece permanent collection.

But the museum faces a sad tale: Monthly rent has doubled in its space south of Market. It is forced to find a new permanent home in the next two months.

"We've been through this before with the dot-com boom. This time it's called the tech boom," curator Andrew Farago said. "We do have a plan of attack, which is we are packing up and going to put things in storage during the transition period."

Doors close June 28 at its Mission Street location.

Farago said the museum doesn't want to leave San Francisco but might have no choice.

"We are keeping our options open," he said. "The San Francisco 49ers are in Santa Clara. When something like that can happen, you can't really rule anything out."

It's just another challenge in the life of the Cartoon Art Museum, executive director Summerlea Kasha said.

And given San Francisco's current commercial real estate market, it's not very surprising," she said.

The museum's roots are humble.

In 1984, a group of cartoon art enthusiasts began organized exhibitions of their own artwork, setting up shows in museums and corporate spaces. In 1987, with an endowment from "Peanuts" creator Charles M. Schulz, the museum moved to the heart of the city's vibrant arts core.

It's had a few homes over the years. Before moving to the current location in 2001, the museum put its collection in storage for eight months while looking for a lease.

Until the doors close at the current location, there is plenty to see there.

In May, the museum will take part in the inaugural San Francisco Comics Fest with an event celebrating the city's underground "comix" movement. It also will host an evening of standup comedy and the Queer Comics Expo.

The museum's final exhibition will showcase artwork from Jeffrey Brown's popular series of "Star Wars" books, including "Goodnight Darth Vader" and the forthcoming release "Darth Vader and Friends."