Tomata du Plenty : backstage at Hinckley’s



Who remembers the shows at Hinckley’s on Polk St?
Hinckley’s was an infamous gay bar opened in 1972 by twin sisters Lorain and Roberta Hinckley at 1111 Polk Street in San Francisco. Quickly, the club became a regular weekend hotspot during the disco craze. In the late 70s, they began letting local new wave bands play weeknights and immediately these shows became popular with the punters. Many bands had their SF debuts there, including Mary Monday, Leila & the Snakes, IceCreamers, The Don’ts, Minivans, the Avengers, the Mute Ants, Snuky Tate, Eggs!, and the Mole Persons. MCs Neil Hamburger and Dirk Dirksen tested out their new material between bands. Eventually, neighborhood noise complaints, continuous plumbing problems, and underage drinking caused the landlord to stop the punk shows in 1980. By then the Fab Mab had taken over as punk Mecca in the city. And Hinckley’s faded into the shadowy meat market of lower Polk.

In April I recreated the club and backstage for one night at the SF Art Institute’s 2017 Gala. It included a whiskey bar, live bands, art-filled backstage, and cheesy “hospitality table” which the well-heeled patrons gobbled up. The five portraits of Tomata I painted over collage and were snapped up by buyers soon after the show. Here’s a closer look at the Tomata’s Orange, Blue, Cherry, Green, and PurpleRare footage of the bands playing Hinckley’s. I meant to sing four songs in each set, but a flu-from-Hell trashed my voice and Mia Frightwig came to the rescue. All walls (skulls and flyer paintings), as well as the graffiti sofa, are available for purchase. Please contact Penelope with questions.

The installation and event took place on April 29th, 2017 in Studio 8 (the filmmaking studio) at SFAI. Pics below and in the SF Chronicle.

Other alumni artists creating “art bars” installations included Bonanza: Conrad Guevara, Lindsay Tully(MFA 2013), and Lana Williams;  David Best;Katie Bush,  David Janesko and Adam DonnellyKunstCapadesTim Sullivan (MFA 2004), Joshua Pieper, and Robyn Carliss. Ian Treasure( and Cathy Lu , Kerry Laitala , Tom Loughlin  and Supermrin and The Confidential Theater, Whitney Lynn  and Tony LabatMads LynnerupLorena Perez VillersTaravat TalepasandAla Ebtekar, and Amir Esfahani.

setting up installation

Pros at work

Two skulls

Beer or whiskey

Penelope’s short-lived glory

Mia saved the day

God’s Little Princess

rainbow farts backstage

Beautiful backstage spread

Joel M. Few and the sofa

Everyone loves defacing property




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