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Mission artists in search of a new workspace feel priced out and forgotten in San Francisco

Mission artists forced to find new workspace in San Francisco's pricey real estate market
Mission artists forced to find new workspace in San Francisco's pricey real estate market 02:09

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- A group of Mission District artists is forced to leave their creative workspace because it is up for sale. They now are fighting for space in a real estate market better suited to moguls than artists.

The artists have had space to create inside a warehouse on Treat Avenue near 22nd Street. They recently got a letter to vacate by the end of September. The building, once owned by art lover Ernest Heinzer, is now controlled by an estate following Heinzer's death. Now, the estate plans to sell the building and needs the artists to move.  

KPIX 5 spoke to three artists who have used the space for years and now are having to find a new workspace in an era of high rents.

"I am slowly packing up," said artist Daniel Chen. "I've looked at 20 spaces so far, and I don't want a single one of them." 

Chen, who is painting his last work at the Heinzer warehouse, says he must sell the last work in order to finance the move. Where will he go? He doesn't know.  

"I feel like it's constantly, as an artist, an uphill battle," Chen said. "It's hard to feel like I have a place as an artist in San Francisco."

Sketch artist Jon Stich echoed Chen's frustration.

"It makes all the bad stuff about living here a little more visible,"  said Stich.

Artist Genevieve L' Heureux is packing up her materials into boxes and hoping for policy change in San Francisco that will protect spaces for artists who often have to move due to high rents or buildings being sold out from under them. 

"Right now it's going mono singular high-end residential usage if city doesn't care about that then this is what's happening," said L'Heureux.

The estate that controls the Heinzer building has offered relocation help for the artists, citing the late owner's love for art and artists. The artists hope for a world where one day, artists are loved and protected, as much as the art they create and sell.

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