Golden Gateway at Hayes Green
image courtesy of SF Arts Commission

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.

5 Comments so far

  1. Steve Boland (unregistered) on September 25th, 2006 @ 11:24 am

    Fantastic. I was starting to get a bit concerned the space might sit empty forever.

  2. Nancy (unregistered) on September 25th, 2006 @ 2:56 pm

    Apparently it’s a pretty involved process for art selection and then obtaining permits. I’m hoping to get more info on the process in the coming week, and some idea of how long this particular piece will be displayed. Installation is slated to start on Thursday of this week.

  3. shannon (unregistered) on October 2nd, 2006 @ 1:39 pm

    I live next to this park, and so am always interested to see what the rotating art will be. I’ve been impressed with past projects (the temple and kaleidoscopes) but a bit dismayed about this latest display. I’m afraid it’s computer rendition above is more compelling than the actual installation, which left local residents wondering if it was merely the support structure for an unfinished project, the “flags” being some kind of construction site warning. From a distance, we thought maybe it was some vague reference to Tibet prayer flags, but this idea is quickly discarded upon closer inspection of the structure. In the artist’s defense, the lights haven’t yet been installed, and so hopefully it will be less of an eye-sore, at least at night. Perhaps a sign could be installed (temporarily) explaining it’s significance (if there is one) to baffled visitors. I, for one, am hoping this rotation is a short one.

  4. Greg (unregistered) on October 2nd, 2006 @ 2:23 pm

    How about making the next installation a donut shop or similar type of attraction for the police to – oh, I don’t know – police the neighborhood. A few officers walking the beat to curb the graffiti, vandalism, squatting, and drug use (by a park that’s supposed to draw children) would be a true artistic expression that both the neighborhood and the city could enjoy. Very avante garde…

  5. Nancy (unregistered) on October 3rd, 2006 @ 7:29 am

    There do seem to be a lot of homeless that linger in this park – but there are more when there ISN’T an art installation at the site. I rarely saw loiterers at the Best sculpture, and I returned to that piece several times. I like the idea of rotating artwork, in part because it does bring people back more frequently, and the increased foot traffic is a more viable long-term solution to breaking up the camps than the occasional foot patrol. Less confrontational, and better residual effects on the neighborhood.

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