BONANZA at El Rio

Living & Working

BONANZA at El Rio

By BONANZA March 6, 2019

How does one survive and thrive as an artist in the San Francisco Bay Area? Living & Working is a multi-platform column focusing on the experiences and strategies from those who continue to live and work in the Bay Area.


BONANZA is the collaborative practice of Conrad Guevara, Lindsay Tully, and Lana Williams. Their work draws upon the artists' respective experiences as a filmmaker, sculptor, and painter and centers around issues of identity and authorship. Bonanza's diverse projects have included installation, film, and fashion. The artists regularly employ abstraction, performance, and humor, often using their projects as a platform for others. Bonanza’s work has been exhibited at Alter Space, City Limits, 100% Gallery, n/a, Royal Nonesuch Gallery, Interface, The Niad Art Center and The di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art.

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The following transcript has been edited for clarity.

Conrad Gavara: I’m Conrad Gavara. I am one-third of BONANZA. We’re in the backroom on the stage at El Rio. 3158A Mission Street. I love this stage. When I first moved here, I remember dancing on the stage to a musician who was DJ’ing who I was really enamored with. And I was like, oh, this is what I moved to California for. 

Lana Williams: I’m Lana Williams. I’m one-third BONANZA and I’m from Little Rock, Arkansas. I’ve been in the Bay about eight and a half years and have been coming to El Rio ever since. 

Lindsay Tully: My name is Lindsay Tully. I’m from Washington D.C. El Rio was the first bar I think I visited when I came to San Francisco. Um and then after Grad school, I got a job here bartending and I’ve worked here for almost five years.

CG: I think El Rio is an important place in San Francisco because it appeals and draws so many different kinds of people. It’s so nice when art people that are in your orbit kind of like float into a place where you feel really comfortable and not necessarily affected by the pressures of art and art socializing. 

LW: You can literally go in the restroom here and walk out feeling positive because of the graffiti that’s written on the walls.

LT: I feel like our work in a lot of ways is about shifting identities, how identities aren’t fixed, and just the fluidity of presenting yourself. And I feel like this place is basically that. It’s a bar, but it’s very much a community space. We have a lot of different parties that cater to different kinds of communities. A lot of people are leaving—it’s hard, it’s tough, but if you can make it work it’s a great place.

We’re making it work, for now. BONANZA. 3158A Mission Street. El Rio. Your bar. Some dynamic text. Your dive bar.

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Living & Working is funded in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency.

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