Posts Tagged ‘publicspace’

Temporary public art: Night & day edition

February 14th, 2017

HYBYCOZO
 

If you’ve ever read this blog before, you’ve probably figured out that I spend a lot of spare time wandering the streets of San Francisco and taking photos of stuff. (Hey, it keeps my fitness tracker happy, okay?) On Sunday I happened to come across two strangely similar temporary public art installations, one in Patricia’s Green in Hayes Valley, and the other in Civic Center just outside City Hall.

But before we get into that, let me get philosophical for a moment. When it comes to public art, I appreciate the recent trend in temporary installations. The idea of permanent public art seems both ridiculous and impossible. Ridiculous because what people appreciate about an art piece today may be loathed in a decade or three, especially in the harsh light of public space. Impossible because nothing is truly permanent; if vandalism doesn’t destroy the piece then natural disasters certainly will. Or the piece proves so far ahead of its time that it simply doesn’t work. Even if the civilization that created and loves the art still exists, good luck in a few billion years when the sun burns out… yup, I went there. Permanent my ass. Nothing truly lives forever, the “permanence” of a work of art really boils down to whether it has an end date marked on the exhibition calendar or not.

For these reasons, I’m a fan of temporary public art. If the work resonates with people they’ll find a way to keep it around longer — remember what happened to The Bay Lights? People responded so well that its temporary status got a reprieve almost immediately.
 

So back to Sunday. First, I found myself wandering through Hayes Valley and wound up at Patricia’s Green. This space has been the site of many temporary public art exhibitions, which are generally tied to Black Rock Arts Foundation and therefore have a special relationship with Burning Man. The current exhibit is from HYBCOZO with two three dimensional geometric shapes made of metal, carved with fractal-like shapes.

HYBYCOZO HYBYCOZO

Next, I found myself a few blocks away at City Hall where Hong Kong-based artist Freeman Lau had installed a series of oversized lanterns to mark Chinese New Year.

Sui Sui Ping An - Peace All Year Round Sui Sui Ping An - Peace All Year Round

At first glance, these two pieces seem to have little in common, aside from the medium of temporary public sculpture. But looks can be deceiving. I poked my head up to the installation at Patricia’s Green. What’s this strange mechanism?

HYBYCOZO

Likewise, what’s up with those plastic anti-trip strips between the lanterns at City Hall?

Oh… there’s a connection here — light. Lanterns aren’t for the daylight, and neither are those geometric sculptures at Patricia’s Green. If ever there was a time of year for temporary public art that took advantage of light, it’s in the winter when light is scarce in the evenings. So I took another stroll at night to find out what these installations look like without the sun.

First, here’s HYBYCOZO‘s pieces at night:

HYBYCOZO HYBYCOZO

The colors of both shapes faded in and out and changed between colors in a dynamic fashion that’s difficult to capture. There were so many people wandering around taking photos that I couldn’t get a good video, but even that would hardly do it justice. Do yourself a favor and get over there when it’s dark out and see for yourself. That said, I bet this would be even more impressive if Patricia’s Green weren’t so well lit at night — I’m sure HYBYCOZO’s works are more delightful at places like Burning Man where city lights don’t impede the shadow patterns they cast on the ground.
 

Second, here’s the lanterns outside City Hall at night:

Sui Sui Ping An - Peace All Year Round Sui Sui Ping An - Peace All Year Round

While the lanterns don’t have the dynamic nature of the metal shapes, they’re strikingly bright and colorful against the black and white facades of the main buildings surrounding Civic Center Plaza. Just like during the day, at night both professional photographers and couples taking selfies with the giant lanterns impeded my view, making it a challenge to get a clear shot. But from the perspective of the artist, this looks like a resounding success.

So here’s to temporary public art, and especially this strange new frontier of electrically illuminated public art designed for viewing at night. We’re clearly on to something here, and I’m happy to see that San Francisco is on the forefront.

Exploring Juri Commons

December 26th, 2015


 

Not far from Papalote is a funny little park you could be forgiven for not noticing even if you stroll by it regularly. The park is called Juri Commons and was once a section of railroad before the 1906 earthquake. In the 70′s the skinny quadrilateral lot was converted into a park with a small playground.

Juri Commons Juri Commons Juri Commons Juri Commons

Unfortunately little maintenance has been done since then, although a group of volunteers does their best to tidy up the place. That said, the playground is in particularly rough shape and I decided not to photograph the mural behind the swings because I didn’t want to step on the broken glass of a beer bottle some asshole had smashed there.

Aside from its shape and size the most unique feature of the park is the Sol Flor sculptures embedded in the ground. They were built by artist Jen Alexander in a medium similar to LA’s Watt’s Towers — re-purposed garbage — though these are obviously much smaller in scale.

More details about Juri Commons can be found at SF Parks Alliance.

Pica Pica levels up, adds outdoor seating

September 5th, 2011

Pica Pica outdoor seating Pica Pica outdoor seating

Local arepa restaurant and ever changing tiger mural spot has added some outdoor seating.

With Four Barrel’s hipster jungle gym parklet just down the street, will Little Star be next in line for an extension into the realm of public space, or will Zeitgeist beat them to it?

Guerrilla bench activism

April 25th, 2011

Public space Public space Rose demonstrating the bench Public space

Recently, an anti Sit/Lie activist created and placed public benches around the city. These guerrilla benches are made out of recycled wood pallets, and come with a manifesto wheat-pasted onto a nearby utility pole.

Interestingly, San Francisco’s sidewalks once had public benches. But they were removed a decade ago. Why? Well the reasons sound very familiar if you paid attention to the Sit/Lie arguments: homeless people and drug addicts used the benches. (I guess the next step will be to remove the sidewalks, since homeless people have been known to use those.)

Anyhow, if you’d like to use a guerrilla bench, there is one by the abandoned building at 15th and Mission.