The beginnings of the Budget Gallery started in 1998. While attending the San Francisco Art Institute Steve Lambert noticed that every available wall was in demand by the students to show their work. At the same time, cork-boards in the halls were being over run with predatory advertisements for credit cards and other services targeting your typical student. Lambert started tearing down the ads and putting up his own work. Later, when he left school, he started putting old work prints and drawings in the street.
"For the past few years, Lambert has been trying to give public space a makeover. And he started where many beauticians do, at home. In 1999, Lambert became so fed up with stacks of art in his apartment that he started hanging it on walls and telephone poles in his Mission neighborhood. 'Some I liked and some I didn't, but I didn't have enough space for it all. So, I started putting it up. I just couldn't throw it away,' he said. Soon other artists hung their work next to Lambert's and before long the idea of an outdoor gallery was in the works." From The Wave Magazine 1
In 1999 with Cynthia Yardley, Michael Kenny, and others, the first Budget Gallery show on the Streets of San Francisco happened.