The True “Early Days”: Native Americans Share Their History Through Art

 

(Image via SFAC)

This post has been updated to share upcoming events.

While the “Early Days” statue was removed in 2018, the hole in the ground has left more than just a physical space — it’s left an opening for the true history of the Native American experience in the Bay Area to be shared by those who should have been the only ones to tell their story in the first place: Native Americans.

To draw attention to the true history, mark the 50th year anniversary of the occupation of Alcatraz, and emphasize accurate artistic representation of Native Americans, the San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) has launched the ambitious American Indian Initiative that celebrates the culture and contributions of local Indigenous Peoples. Spanning three months, The Continuous Thread: Celebrating Our Interwoven Histories, Identities and Contributions will include over 14 public events including exhibitions, a temporary light-art project, community celebrations, concerts, a film festival, a fashion show and more.

The American Indian Initiative kicks off on October 4 with the opening of the San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) Main Gallery’s new exhibition, The Continuous Thread: Celebrating Our Interwoven Histories, Identities and Contributions. Curated by Carolyn Kuali’i, The Continuous Thread will feature photographs of members of the American Indian community by Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie, Jean Melesaine, and Britt Bradley that were taken in April 2019 centered around the Pioneer Monument, specifically the empty plinth where the Early Days sculptural grouping once stood. 

To learn more about the American Indian Initiative, and a full list of related events, please visit the SFAC website.

Dr. Maya Angelou Statue Coming to San Francisco Main Library

In 2018 the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved the Women’s Recognition Public Art Fund – an ordinance requiring 30% of all public art in the City to represent women – with the goal of 50%. At the time of passing the ordinance, of the 87 statues in San Francisco only three depicted non-fictional women. As part of this effort to expand the presence of influential women through permanent art pieces, the first statue approved for the steps for the San Francisco Main Library will depict poet and civil rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou.

The beautiful renderings of the three finalists’ works — chosen as finalists by a Public Art Selection Panel to create site-specific proposals for this artwork opportunity: Jules Arthur, Kenyatta A. C. Hinkle, and Lava Thomas — are on display at the Main Library and the San Francisco Arts Commission website. Check out the works, and provide comment before July 31.

Rendering from artist Kenyatta A. C. Hinkle
Rendering from artist Lava Thomas