Tom Franco Co Lab

with Alumnus Tom Franco + Firehouse Art Collective + UC Santa Cruz students +alumni

Thursday, February 5, 2015 - Friday, March 13, 2015

Opening reception at the Sesnon Gallery: Thursday, February 5 from 5:00pm - 7:30pm

FREE LECTURE - 7:30pm - 8:30pm Thursday, February 5 - Tom Franco: The Artist Community Collaborative Experience 

LECTURE LOCATION: UC Santa Cruz Music Recital Hall
Registration link

To kick off our yearlong celebration of UC Santa Cruz’s 50th anniversary, the Sesnon Gallery is thrilled to present an innovative exhibition collaboration and performance series with UC Santa Cruz alumnus Tom Franco and his Firehouse Art Collective, along with UC Santa Cruz students, alumni and special guests. This collaboration is a compelling example of how UC Santa Cruz graduates are truly original.

 This Co-Lab project is part of a Porter College course called Curatorial Practice, taught by Sesnon Gallery Director Shelby Graham with Tom Franco and will cultivate a creative community through a collaborative exhibition format. We will host open mic events, performance collectives, discussions, and paint murals. The students will learn participatory aspects of exhibition development, promotion, art handling and installation, including a chance to paint collaborative murals inside and outside the Sesnon Gallery.

See similar class project

Tom Franco is founder of the Firehouse Art Collective, a pioneering project that is changing the arts community in the East Bay and is a compelling example of how UC Santa Cruz graduates are truly original. Franco has invested in a collection of buildings and spaces that promotes collaboration and community. The collective, spread throughout the East Bay, has live-work housing, studios, cafes, galleries, and event and performance spaces. Open platform and participatory style is adopted and practiced by galleries and museums around the world, especially in Santa Cruz with the Museum of Art and History as a model.

Tom Franco has invited a host of artists with UC Santa Cruz alumni members to perform at the Sesnon Gallery and Porter College

FREE Related Events:

Thursday, Feb. 12 : Tyler MacNiven - "Big In Bollywood" 6pm video night in the Sesnon Gallery.

 Thursday, Feb. 19: Dorian Cohen's Mixed Media Mixer - a line up of musical acts, live painters and videographers.

 Thursday, Feb. 26: Matteo (Matt) Lovik - acoustic set with his band 

 Friday, March 6: P L a N E T S The Dark Woods  live concert @ Porter College with alumnus Adam Cotton


This project is sponsored by an "Open Classroom" grant from the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts (UCIRA), UC Santa Cruz Arts Division, Porter College, and alumni.

About Tom Franco:  

Tom Franco is an artist based in Berkeley, Calif. and the founder and director of the Firehouse Art Collective. Franco was an Art major at UC Santa Cruz (earning his BA in 2002), and then studied ceramics at the California College of Arts in Oakland (CCA). His work as a sculptor and painter has been the foundation for the Tom Franco Co-Lab, which is comprised of works done in tandem with one or more artists. Franco’s philosophy around art practice has always been centered on collaboration, with other influences on his work being dance ensemble, Tai Chi and martial arts. These practices provided the backbone for his view that visual arts should be experienced in groups instead of in isolation and that performance is a central element in understanding visual representation. All of Franco’s projects are the mature expression of his lifelong study of what art really is, and an essential element for community to honor and give space for on-going creative expression.


Franco’s Firehouse Art Collective, a nonprofit founded in 2005, is a pioneering project that is changing the arts community in the East Bay by providing spaces for local artists of all disciplines to co-create community and culture, and for art patrons and collectors to purchase cutting-edge art of lasting value. Firehouse’s five locations include gallery and public art exhibits, curated live art events, open studio art walk, performance theater, workshops, lectures, artists studios, film club movie nights, music events, living spaces and organic gourmet food.


A Bay Area native, Franco grew up in Palo Alto, California, in a creative family. His mother, Betsy Franco, is an acclaimed author, and his brothers David and James are award-winning film and stage actors. “In my family, you were never cool, you never had anything good to say, unless you were talking about art,” says Franco.


Some metered parking is available near gallery on a daily basis. For receptions and special 
events we offer parking with attendants for $4. A valid parking permit is required to park at UCSC. Visitors may purchase a $6 all-day permit or a $3 night permit (valid after 3:30PM). Permits are available for purchase Monday–Friday at the Main Entrance kiosk or at the parking sales office. Additional parking can be found at the Performing Arts lot.  

NEW Sesnon Gallery hours

Tuesday – Saturday, 12:00–5:00 p.m. 

Wednesday and Thursday 12:00-8:00 p.m. 

Tom Franco's work will also be included in
50/50 UC Santa Cruz Alumni Exhibition
50 artists from 50 years
at the Blitzer Gallery and the Porter Faculty Gallery