Golden Gateway at Hayes Green
As an active advocate for the development of urban public spaces, I’ve delighted in the spacious Octavia Boulevard that now graces what was once the underbelly of the eye-sore Central Freeway ramp. The ambitious project boasts a gracious open setting for rotating public art, which currently stands a bit vacant – but not for long.
The SF Arts Commission’s Public Art Program is soon to commence construction of a new, temporary art installation on the green by Oakland artist Seyed Alavi. The proposed structure’s visual imagery appears to reference icons both historic and new – the Arc d’Triomphe in Paris, and the 2005 The Gates installation in NYC’s Central Park by the artists Cristo and Jeanne-Claude. The three-dimensional arch will be constructed of scaffold framework with bright orange, semi-opaque fire-retardant nylon ensconcing it, and lit from within by halogen floodlights. (Thanks to SFAC’s Jill Manton for a preview of the project).
The installation is the latest in an ongoing partnership of public and private funding, aimed at bringing more temporary public art to San Francisco. Hayes Green also boasts a permanent installation by Berkeley sculptor Wang Po Shu, of 12 kaleidescope sculptures of unique combinations of mirrors and lenses, devised both to be works of art themselves, and to visually engage with the rotating art centerpieces.
The site previously held the lacey framed temple sculpture by famed Burning Man artist David Best. The temporal theme of the sculpture and the plywood construction led many visitors to leave their own mark on the piece – multi-colored graffiti graced the interlocking surfaces and added to the theme of intricate decoration. I, too, added a ballpoint pen inscription, which like the Hindu practice of lekhapraratha havana ‘written prayer burning rite’, would be floating to the heavens, as with many of Best’s structures, the temple was purported to be sacrificed during ‘the burn’ in 2005.
While Alavi’s piece may not garner the active public participation that the temple did (and is likely not desired to), the flowing scrim and ethereal glow of the sculpture is sure to enliven the Green, and give new cause to celebrate this recent addition to SF’s collection of artful, and art-full, public spaces.