As RayKo closes to public, fresh future develops

Venerated photography studio RayKo Photo Center will close to the public Sunday, but will continue to run workshops, classes, and youth camps while becoming the new home for San Francisco non-profit First Exposures for the summer.

RayKo owner and former First Exposures mentor Stuart Kogod announced Apr. 15 that, after a lot of effort, he was able to find a way to keep at least part of his business going.

In a recent post to Facebook, Kogod said:

“We redoubled our efforts, and have now set a path toward survival without my direct involvement.”

This announcement comes four months after he originally announced that RayKo would be closing its doors unless new patronage emerged.

Nothing is known yet about who will be stepping in to take over the business, but Kogod, who could not be reached for comment, said in his statement that he is optimistic that RayKo will re-introduce public access before the fall.

Ann Jastrab, gallery director at RayKo said:

“There is going to be a weird period of semi-closure over the summer. … But everything else will be on hiatus until the fall when we might open as a different entity.”

First Exposures is a youth photography and mentorship program whose aim is to provide underprivileged youths the opportunity to engage in photography in a classroom environment. They will move into the RayKo facilities over the weekend, and director Erik Auerbach said that, without the help of Kogod, they would have had to cut their spring program short after losing their current home above Adolf Gasser photography, which closed last month:

Auerbach said:

“We have had classes who have met at RayKo for close to 12 years. …  And it was a real shock that RayKo would be closing.  I am grateful that we were given the opportunity to continue running our class there and to continue to run our summer program there.”

First Exposures had offices on the third floor of the Adolf Gasser building for the past four years, just blocks away from RayKo.  Until February when owner John Gasser announced he would be retiring, closing the business, and that the building would be rented out to another party.

Jastrab said:

“I think that they will end up staying here longer than the summer. …  I’m not in charge, but I think it might get written into the contract that the kids could still be here.”

Even though RayKo will be closed to the public on a walk-in basis, a list of their summer classes can be found on their website.