Oakland-based artist Sadie Barnette’s The New Eagle Creek Saloon (2019) is an installation and performance series that reimagines San Francisco’s first black-owned gay bar, opened by the artist’s father, Rodney Barnette, in 1990. Originally located at 1884 Market Street, The New Eagle Creek Saloon served as a safe gathering space for the multiracial queer community marginalized by the city’s queer nightlife scene at the time. The installation honors the legacy of a bar that created opportunities for connection, supported activist groups, honored Black heroes, and participated in vigils for those lost to AIDS. While the original bar closed in 1993, Barnette’s installation acts as a site of celebration and resistance, embodied by the slogan, “A friendly place, with a funky bass, for every race.”
On Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from April 22–May 11, 2023, the installation will be brought to life with performances, storytelling, and open “happy hours” for dancing and enjoying a drink. Viewers are encouraged to interact with the immersive artwork, take a seat at the bar, and flip through archival materials that offer connections to reawakened histories. As the artist describes: “Glowing somewhere between a monument and an altar, the glittering bar structure is not only a place but is at once an invocation and an invitation…to call the names of those lost and to see one another as we are in the glow of our own small moments of freedom.”
Public Programs Preview:
The artist will convene a panel discussion featuring her father Rodney Barnette, owner of the original bar and founder of the Compton chapter of the Black Panthers, reminiscing with former patrons of the bar. Additional public programs include a film screening by curatorial collective The Black Aesthetic; an afternoon with Marvin K. White, Minister of Celebration at Glide Memorial Church; a performance lecture by madison moore, an artist-scholar, DJ, and assistant professor of Critical Studies in the Roski School of Art and Design at the University of Southern California. The grand finale will feature Oakland-based vocalist, songwriter, and producer ASTU.
Header: Sadie Barnette, The New Eagle Creek Saloon, 2019 (installation view, The Kitchen, New York, 2022); © Sadie Barnette; photo: Adam Reich, courtesy the artist and The Kitchen, New York