Founder's Statement

I envision Ivy Hill Arts as a residency program in Oakland where local artists can find one another, deepen their art practices, and strengthen community. My own creative practice has always been about bringing artists together. On my own at the age of thirteen, the East Bay punk scene took me in and taught me the meaning of the word community.

The fundamentals of punk are, if you want something done, you should do it yourself –– and it should reflect your individual spirit. Community, it’s about connection. All of us connecting as our real selves.

The punk scene was my grade school experience and changed the trajectory of my life.

My continuing education in the school of life took me to NYC in the 80s where I experienced all the arts coming together in collaboratives that I was a part of, curating our own art shows in squats on the Lower East Side.

Returning home to the Bay in 1996, I struggled to get my life together like most men in their early twenties, except the trauma of my childhood had caught up to me and like my mother before me, I was completely strung out.

I needed my community back. It was time to take all the pain I had experienced growing up in the East Bay as a second-class citizen and put it to use. I got clean. I painted and wrote to articulate and communicate to others that you are not alone. In community, with other artists, I was not alone.

In the heart of San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, I established OnSix Gallery, a community-based art gallery that acted as a staging ground to bring artists together across disciplines.

Today, in the same spirit of creativity and connection, I am founding Ivy Hill Arts to continue to develop the kind of Bay Area arts community that has been so important to me since I was young.

Creativity is about communication.
   Communication is about community 
Community is about connection.

Sham Saenz, Founder, Ivy Hill Arts