Anne Brodzky, the founder of the nonprofit gallery, started the interns program in 1996 with an artist, Amy Berk. Brodzky says she and Berk wanted teenagers in San Francisco to be able to learn to run a gallery and to make art.
“We wanted to show them that art is work and work is art,” Brodzky said. “We wanted them to have a full interdisciplinary experience with visual arts and music and dance – and we wanted their work to be paid for.”
The interns, ow-income high school students, work with artists for two hours after school - longer in the summer. They come to Meridian through the Mayor’s Youth Education and Employment Program.
“They have to have a curiosity and want to make a path in the arts,” Brodzky said. “This has a huge influence on their lives – it improves their academic ability, their math and social skills, and their awareness of community.”
About 500 interns have graduated from the program, and Brodzky says many of them stay in touch. She hears about how they have gone on to City College of San Francisco or four-year schools, as well as to jobs as designers, muralists and art teachers- some coming back to teach at Meridian.
At Friday's Coffee House, along with Peets coffee, there will be cake, cookies, hot cider, and, of course, art. The gallery will feature woodcuts created by the interns who hand carved and printed the works in a vintage press at the studio they interns use.. There will also be a video presentation by some former interns who renovated a damaged mural, Tenderhart, in the Tenderloin.
Brodzky says she’s proud of how the intern program has kept the kids in school and opened them up.
“They have a world of opportunities they make themselves,” she said. “And this keeps them connected with community and involved.”