Michael Beck, Lift Off, oil on canvas

For 25 years, Visual Aid has been an integral part of San Francisco’s passionate social activism in response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, supporting the creative production of artists with AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses.


Today, Visual Aid Projects focuses on curatorial projects and archives documenting artists responses to the AIDS pandemic.

Compiled throughout the organization’s history, Visual Aid’s holdings include photographs, audio and video recordings, books, printed material and ephemera, images of artwork, artists’ writings and other art texts, catalogs and documentation of significant exhibitions and fundraisers, documenting the art careers of thousands of artists from Visual Aid and the larger community. Important highlights include unique interviews and files on artists who passed away before the proliferation of electronic media.

These archives are used by educators, curators, writers and historians. Visual Aid Projects places archival material at carefully selected venues, including the International Museum of LGBT History, San Francisco Art Institute and the SF Public Library.

The organization presents several exhibitions each year at venues including art fairs such as Photo LA and ArtMKT, promoting dialogue about art and illness.

1989 – 2013

Visual Aid distributed up to $125,000 worth of grants and art supplies annually to member artists. In 2010, Visual Aid opened a gallery in the historic Mechanics’ Institute Building in downtown San Francisco. Reaching up to 100,000 visitors each year, the organization presented lectures, workshops, readings and screenings,   and 15 exhibitions annually in the Visual Aid Gallery, at public spaces including City Hall and the SF Public Library,   community spaces such as the SF LGBT Community Center, corporate spaces including One Sansome and MOMs Pharmacy, and galleries and art spaces such as Gallery Paule Anglim, Chandra Cerrito Gallery and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Jerry Frost, Docked, oil on canvas




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