Roll and ride with Papergirl SF Gallery Show 

Getting ready: Papergirl SF volunteers roll up art for delivery. (Courtesy photo) - GETTING READY: PAPERGIRL SF VOLUNTEERS ROLL UP ART FOR DELIVERY. (COURTESY PHOTO)
  • Getting ready: Papergirl SF volunteers roll up art for delivery. (Courtesy photo)
  • Getting ready: Papergirl SF volunteers roll up art for delivery. (Courtesy photo)

Art doesn’t stay in one place for long. It moves from trend to trend, easel to frame, private homes to public spaces, and in the case of a participatory art project called Papergirl SF, from artist to gallery to doorsteps across San Francisco.

On Oct. 29, volunteers — in a process similar to that of a newspaper route — will cycle around The City, delivering rolled-up works of art to doorsteps.

“I really like the whole concept of collecting art and giving it to the community,” says Papergirl SF co-founder Heather Tompkins.

Papergirl SF is a four-part process. Local, national and international artists submit work via the postal service or drop it off at one of three designated San Francisco locations.

After being documented with scans or photographs, the submissions are presented in a show on view at Incline Gallery from Saturday through Oct. 22.

Finally, volunteers will “roll and ride” — roll up the submissions, hop onto their bikes, and deliver the art.

“The actual ride is a lot of fun,” says Tompkins. “When you roll the art and get on your bike, you’re doing this with 30 other strangers. It’s fun to ride around The City. Delivering artwork. Everyone is cheering and ringing their bells and taking pictures.”

Now in its second year, Papergirl SF was inspired by a Berlin-based project that arose in protest against tightening graffiti laws.

While Papergirl SF has a different focus, it still seeks to raise awareness and encourage participation in the rising do-it-yourself artist community.

“There are a lot of artists who don’t show their work in galleries,” says Tompkins. “They’re just doing their own thing, and the range of talent is amazing. To me this is a neat way to showcase some of the underground work going on in San Francisco right now.”

Not only are galleries a limited slice of the art spectrum, but they are not always accessible to the average spectator, and the art is often pricey. Papergirl SF circumvents the intimidating gallery scene, and puts art in the hands of locals, both as recipients and in the case of the “roll and ride” volunteers, temporary curators and distributors.

Tompkins admits to being a cycling novice, but feels encouraged by the group ethic of the project.

“I didn’t start riding my bike until I started this project,” says Tompkins. “If you can ride in a group of people, like with us at Papergirl, you have people looking out for you. It’s leisurely. We’re not commuting, and we’re not Critical Mass,” she says.


Papergirl SF Gallery Show

Where: Incline Gallery, 766 Valencia St., San Francisco
When: 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday opening reception
Note: To inquire about volunteering, email

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Lauren Gallagher

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