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.
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.
This May marks 74 years since the end of the Holocaust, and to remind those of its horrors — and its survivors — Lest We Forget, an installation by German artist Luigi Toscano, will line Civic Center Plaza from April 17 through May 19.
Comprised of 68 portraits of Holocaust survivors, including both local survivors, and those from across the United States, Germany, Israel, Russia and Ukraine; the “portraits are meant to provide voice and visibility to these survivors,” according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Each portrait stands over seven feet tall, and will line the plaza in such a way that allows for visitors to walk among them.
Presented by the Goethe-Institute San Francisco and the German Consulate in partnership with the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department and San Francisco Arts Commission, the installation has previously been installed at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC and the UN Headquarters in New York City.
The installation opens April 17 and runs through May 19, which ends with a closing ceremony.
Civic Center public spaces are a world class backdrop for insightful and inspiring public art — and this spring brings pieces from acclaimed local and international artists.
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium Exterior Light Art: Conceptual artist Joseph Kosuth’s latest piece is illuminating the western side of the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (BGCA) on Polk at Hayes. His works involve large-scale neon light installations on the exterior of buildings and employ a broad pallet of languages and typefaces. Kosuth’s new work at BGCA was selected by the San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) in 2015, the first public art project to be funded through the auspices of the Public Art Trust with a contribution made by The Emerald Fund. The Lighting and Dedication Ceremony is March 13, 6pm.
Lest We Forget: An installation by German artist Luigi Toscano, 68 portraits of Holocaust survivors will line Civic Center Plaza from April 17 through May 19. Featuring both local and international survivors, the acclaimed installation is coming to the City by the Mayor’s Office of Protocol and is fully sponsored with private funds from the German Consulate and the Goethe Institute. The installation has previously been on display at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC and the UN Headquarters in New York City.
The Asian Art Museum has debuted its latest outdoor sculpture on its Larkin street steps: Yoshitomo Nara’s Your Dog. The large, white puppy — installed during the Year of the Dog — greets museum goers, Civic Center visitors, and those who live and work in the neighborhood with its whimsical and cartoon-like qualities. Installed at the top of the Larkin Street stairs, the museum encourages visitors to take a picture of Your Dog with your dog and use the hashtag #Naradog.
Facilitated by Dr. Elliot Gann, aka Phillipdrummond of Today’s Future Sound, StreetBeats: An Exploration of Culture through Hip-Hop is an intergenerational activation exploring the many different ways to experience and engage with Hip Hop at the Village Artist Corner (aka the Art/Lit Living Innovation Zone) on the first Sundays of March, April and May 2018.
Curated by the Asian Art Museum and San Francisco Public Library, the Village Artist Corner, outside the Asian Art Museum on Fulton Street at Larkin Street, serves as a venue for art to inspire change through shared experiences through rotating murals and monthly participatory programming created by the Village Artist-in-Residence.
On February 21st, the Tenderloin Museum sponsored a pop-up drag performance during the Heart of Heart of the City Farmers’ Market, featuring the cast and creators from the The Compton’s Cafeteria Riot. With appearances by Collette Le Grande, Shane Zaldivar, Donna Personna, Pleasure Bynight and Miss J, the outdoor performance drew crowds of Farmers Market shoppers, local workers and residents who got a sneak peak of the talented performers bringing the story of protest from drag queens and their allies against police harassment at the Tenderloin’s Compton’s Cafeteria.
The Compton’s Cafeteria Riot, an original, interactive theater experience inspired by the historic riots that launched transgender activism in San Francisco, runs through May 4, 2018. Play patrons convene for an evening breakfast at the New Village Cafe where a 12 person cast dramatizes the inequalities facing the transgender and drag queen communities and their acts of resistance.
Don’t miss this unique play about a key historic movement in the Tenderloin community – buy your tickets now!
San Francisco-based muralist Jason Jägel has completed a new mural in UN Plaza, at the former Carl’s Junior restaurant site. The Carl’s Jr. restaurant’s lease expired in November of 2017, and while the property owner works on finding a new tenant, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development worked with the property owner, artist and 826 Valencia to help organize the installation of the mural to provide a bright new public art amenity.
Jägel’s mural in UN Plaza uses spray paint and acrylic paint pens to intersperse images in a collage-like fashion, relying on abstract connections to foster viewers’ imaginations. The images that appear in the mural in UN Plaza are inspired by Jägel’s experience in taking the words and writings by young authors from the Tenderloin who are participating in programs at the 826 Valencia Tenderloin Center – a non-profit youth center devoted to supporting under-resourced students with writing skills. Jägel directly quotes snippets of students’ writings, empowering those voices as they play with his images. The next time you’re in UN Plaza, check out the murals! You can also visit 826 Valencia to get a first-hand glimpse of the program just two blocks away at 180 Golden Gate Ave.
If you have questions about this mural project, please contact Juan Carlos Cancino, Office of Economic and Workforce Development at firstname.lastname@example.org.