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Meeting Information


2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 

Wednesday, September 17, 2008
3:00 p.m.
25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 70


Commissioners Present:
Jeannene Przyblyski, Lorraine Garcia-Nakata, P.J. Johnston, Alexander Lloyd
Absent: Dede Wilsey

Staff Present:
Luis R. Cancel, Mary Chou, Allison Cummings, Nancy Gonchar, Tonia Macneil, Jill Manton, Judy Moran, Susan Pontious, Ellen Shershow

Note: All votes are unanimous unless recorded otherwise.

The meeting commenced at 3:11 p.m.

  1. Consent Calendar

    1. Motion to approve a mosaic tile mural at the 24th Street mini-park by lead artist Susan Cervantes in collaboration with members of the lower 24th Street Neighborhood Association to commence in October, 2008 and be complete by July, 2009.

    2. Motion to approve two painted rolled-iron metal artworks by artist Isis Rodriguez, each installed above exterior entryway gates, one at Rolph Playground and the other at Potrero Del Sol Park, and to accept both artworks into the Civic Art Collection.

    3. Motion to approve the addition of Blue Walcer, Director of the CARE (Cancer Awareness, Resources and Education) program to the Selection Panel pool for General Hospital.

    Motion: Motion to adopt the consent calendar items.
    Moved: Garcia-Nakata/Lloyd

  2. Central Subway
    Project Manager Judy Moran introduced
    Albert Hoe, Central Subway Project Engineer, and Mona Tamari, Central Subway Project Architect. She then thanked the Commissioners for allotting one hour of the meeting to discuss a draft of the Central Subway Arts Master Plan. Ms. Moran announced two upcoming Central Subway Public Art Program community meetings on September 18th at the Museum of the African Diaspora, and on September 23rd at the Chinese Historical Society of America. These two meetings are intended to provide the public with an opportunity to provide input into the public art program for the Central Subway stations. Ms. Moran also announced that the third and final Central Subway Arts Master Plan Advisory Group meeting will take place on Friday, September 26th. Ms. Moran explained that she will incorporate comments from the two public meetings, from the Advisory Group, and from the Commissioners into a revised draft of the Arts Master Plan, which she will provide to Commissioners for their review during the October Visual Arts Committee meeting. Ms. Moran then introduced Ms. Tamari to present images of the architecture and design of the three underground Central Subway stations.

    Ms. Tamari showed images of the distinctive cross-sectional designs of the three underground stations. She then showed a brief animation of passengers traveling along the escalator path of the Chinatown station, pointing out areas where passengers naturally pause or slow down as potential spaces for artworks. She explained that the design of the stations is based on an intuitive way-finding. Ms. Tamari stated that while the volumes of space shown in the images of the station designs are accurate, the finishes and colors are not accurately presented. She explained that the architects are leaning towards a minimal, restrained palette; the vibrancy and color in the stations will come from the people and the artworks. The finishes will consist of glass for the elevators, metal for the guardrails and the trains, and exposed concrete, which reveal the unique forms of each of the stations. The elevators have glass walls for security reasons and enable passengers to see where they are going. For the Chinatown station, the entrance will be in the lobby of a multi-story building, the design of which is yet to be determined. The concourse level with the ticketing area and a walkway above the platform level will be a place of pause for passengers.

    For the Union Square/Market Street Station, there will an entrance at Union Square and on the concourse level of the Market Street Powell station, connected by a two-block-long concourse. While the basic materials for the station will also be concrete, glass, and metal, the station will be distinguished by color. The walls along the concourse of the Union Square/Market Street Station will likely have a direct connection to the aboveground retail businesses. The platform level of the Union Square/Market Street Station is double-height or 40 feet high so it is a tall and dramatic space.

    The Moscone Station entrance is located on the corner of Fourth and Folsom Streets with one entrance to be located in the lobby of an as-yet-to-be-determined multi-storied building that will replace the existing gas station. There is one escalator that brings passengers down to the Ticketing Hall, which is a double-height space, and only one entrance into the subway station on the west side of Fourth Street. There are also elevated walkways along the platform.

    Ms. Tamari then presented various types of art opportunities at the different stations. Examples of locations include the dramatic double-height concourse space with tall walls viewable as passengers descend the escalator; the curved roof of the Chinatown station which creates a curved upper walkway with spaces for display cases along the wall; opportunities for hanging elements/sculptural pieces in ticketing hall areas; and the long uninterrupted length of the ceiling and floor along the two-block long concourse of the Union Square/Market Street Station. Other opportunities are the glass walls of the elevators, the floors, which could be of polished concrete or terrazzo in the Union Square/Market Street station concourse, and the benches on the platforms.

    Ms. Moran reported that among the comments from the Advisory Group, there was a lot of consensus but also a range of concerns. She explained that there is an interest in having neighborhoods represented in the artwork but not to have works that are culturally stereotypical. The Advisory Group thought there should be design consistency from one station to another. Some people wanted cutting-edge work while others wanted works that would promote a calm and peaceful environment; Ms. Moran explained that the challenge will be to find a balance. She also noted a strong interest among Advisory Group members for rotating exhibitions. Ms. Moran emphasized that the Arts Commission was not expecting a consensus from the Advisory Group, the purpose of the Group being to gather a range of ideas.

    Commissioner Przyblyski inquired about the next steps of the Advisory Group. Ms. Moran responded that the Advisory Group will review a rough draft of the Arts Master Plan and provide final comments during the third and final meeting on September 26th. After the two public meetings on September 18th and 23rd, Arts Commission staff will incorporate comments from these meetings as well as the Advisory Group meetings into the Arts Master Plan. Ms. Moran will then submit a revised version of the Arts Master Plan to the Arts Commissioners for the October Visual Arts Committee meeting for final approval before distribution. The next step will then be to develop cost estimates and budgets for various types of artworks in a range of materials for the Central Subway art opportunities.

    Commissioner Garcia-Nakata stated that based on her review of the Arts Master Plan it seemed as though there were two conflicting voices: one in support of light boxes for the presentation of artworks, and the other that considered such technology prohibitive because of maintenance issues. Ms. Moran explained that light boxes are relatively easy to maintain. She also stated that the issue of technology is a difficult one as no one knows what technology will look like in 2016. Ms. Moran stated that advertising was an important issue raised by the Advisory Groups. Commissioner Przyblyski stated that the advertising plans for the stations should be determined with the MTA and an agreement memorialized n writing, to be included in the Arts Master Plan and Ms. Moran concurred. Ms. Moran stated that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency ("MTA") will rely heavily on income from advertising space in the Central Subway stations to maintain and repair the stations. She also said that she and Ms. Manton had met with MTA staff to begin discussions about the allocation of space for both advertising and art in the stations.

    Commissioner Przyblyski asked if there will there be a budget for funding ongoing projects. Ms. Moran stated that the Arts Commission hopes to find a way to create a reserve to fund the rotating exhibitions. In response to Commissioner Przyblyski's inquiry about the model of funding used for the Art on Market Street Program, Ms. Manton explained that this is one model that could be used to fund artworks for the Central Subway rotating exhibitions; an agreement between the MTA and the station advertising vendor could provide for a portion of advertising space for artwork along with a dedicated annual allocation for that purpose from the advertising revenue.

    Commissioner Przyblyski stated that as the Art on Market Street Program engages the themes of transportation and transit, the program is not just an altruistic gift from the MTA to the Arts Commission but a way for the MTA to promote public transportation and outreach to the neighborhoods. Commissioner Przyblyski explained that one of the challenges of having a temporary arts program connected with advertising is to deliver it in a way that does not look like advertising.

    Commissioner Johnston suggested the Arts Commission negotiate with Muni to connect the advertising displays with an ongoing art program. He stated that the Art on Market Street Program is a good example of how to structure the Central Subways Public Art Program. He explained that a firm long-lasting agreement with the MTA for such a program is important because as Muni continues to grow it will want to increase the amount of advertising to generate revenue. Commissioner Johnston explained that the Art on Market Street Program was developed in the late 1980s, and it is important to create such a relationship at the beginning of the Central Subway Project. Director of Cultural Affairs Luis R. Cancel stated that the Arts Commission should focus on using a portion of the MTA's advertising display equipment for art programming. Ms. Manton reiterated the importance of claiming certain station spaces for the artwork with an agreement that they would not be available in the future for advertising; for example, some of the prime spaces at the new San Francisco International Airport terminal have already been allocated to advertising.

    Commissioner Garcia-Nakata asked how the boundaries between artwork and advertising will be articulated in the Arts Master Plan and how it will take into account changes in technology. She also explained that endowments have to be fairly significant in amount to generate enough funding for maintenance and repairs as interest rates are so low. She asked about other approaches for funding that the Arts Commission is planning to use.

    Ms. Moran stated that the funding for the rotating exhibitions is still in the process of being developed and as these exhibitions will not begin until 2016, there is still time to develop the program. Ms. Moran stated that perhaps a reserve rather than an endowment is the more appropriate path. She stated that the focus right now, however, is on the permanent works as the Arts Commission needs to move forward with the selection of artists to create works that will be integrated into the architectures of the stations. Commissioner Garcia-Nakata stated that the Arts Master Plan should include language about the creation of a financial development plan for the rotating exhibitions. Ms. Manton added that if the Private Percent for Art Legislation is approved by the Board of Supervisors, then that is another potential source for funding a rotating exhibition program of the artworks if they are located in the C3 downtown district.

    Commissioner Przyblyski asked about funding for the ongoing temporary projects that would occur while the stations are under construction. Ms. Moran stated that the Arts Commission will work with existing arts and cultural organizations along the Central Subway corridor to develop the temporary programs. These organizations will be selected from a competitive process and there will be one or two events or programs a year that will take place in one neighborhood one year and then the next neighborhood the following year. The event or program could be a one-time event with auxiliary materials and a public display. Ms. Moran stated that an example of a program could be an evening screening of historic films about the development of transit. Another example is a youth arts program in which youth work with artists and organizations along the Central Subway corridors in a variety of meaningful ways.

    Commissioner Przyblyski asked how these temporary programs would be articulated in the Arts Master Plan. Ms. Moran stated that a description of the temporary art program will be included in the Arts Master Plan. Commissioner Przyblyski stated that there is the potential to look at temporary art programming as putting money back into impacted neighborhoods during the construction period. She emphasized the need to explain the purpose of having a temporary art program in the Arts Master Plan. Commissioner Garcia-Nakata stated that it is important to set parameters for what the neighborhoods can have so their expectations are not over and above what is possible. Mr. Cancel concurred that it is important to include the parameters of the temporary programs in the Arts Master Plan. Ms. Moran stated that after completion the Arts Master Plan may require revisions and additions as the Central Subway Public Art Program progresses over the next eight years.

    Ms. Moran stated that the Advisory Group is interested in artworks that are located at the station entrances and that serve to enhance the areas around the stations; the Advisory Group also wants key identifiable elements at the station entrances as the ones for Muni and BART are somewhat nondescript. Ms. Tamari explained that the design of the station entrances will be coordinated with the buildings above but will also have its own statement. The signage will have to be coordinated with the architecture and design of the building itself. Commissioner Przyblyski stated that BART had expressed their wish to have artists design canopies to the station entrances as they could not be easily identified by passengers.

    Commissioner Johnston explained that there will be an enormous amount of community pressure to share the Central Subway public art funding with the community and this will be a challenge as the three stations are located in such distinct and self-identified areas. He stated that as Muni will need to appease the businesses in Union Square impacted by the construction, the Union Square retailers will have a huge influence on how their stores are presented in the stations if access to them is granted along the underground concourse. Commissioner Johnston stated that a strong design for the aboveground entrances to the stations would be a great asset to the neighborhoods. Commissioner Garcia-Nakata stated that such a design would also set a precedent for other neighborhoods who may want the same type of design; she cautioned that the design should be one that does not become quickly outdated.

    Commissioner Przyblyski explained that a major statement at each of the station entrances will consume a large portion of the funding and she wonders how this will affect other priorities if the Arts Commission wants to have two or three different types of works in each of the stations. She does not think the budget will allow a huge sculpture in the interior of the station as well as a prominent work at the entrance. Ms. Moran stated that she would like to hear from Visual Arts Commissioners what they believe the priorities are for the permanent works in the stations. In response, Commissioner Przyblyski stated that she believes the art program will be successful if someone in 2016 says "I will meet you at the X (artwork)" so that the artwork becomes a defining element of the station, making it a destination or a landmark in the City.

    Commissioner Garcia-Nakata asked if there was a way to clearly define the priorities for the art program (i.e. an aboveground artwork, an underground artwork, a landmark, etc.) and then identify what is possible once the budget is established and once the buildings above the stations are determined. Ms. Tamari explained that the station entrances will be located on the ground floor and then construction of the building above will come in a later phase.

    Ms. Moran explained that the aboveground presence is very important to the Chinatown community. Commissioner Przyblyski asked if an aboveground presence would consist of something similar to the light standards and gates on Grant Street. Ms. Manton explained that the community has expressed interest in enhancing the canopies on existing storefronts and in having artwork help identify pedestrian routes adjacent to the station. Commissioner Johnston stated that as the type of business that will occupy the building above the station entrances will have a great impact on the design of the station entrance, he would like clarification about the timeframe for determining which business will occupy the building.

    Mr. Hoe explained that decisions about the aboveground facility will not be concurrent with the beginning of construction for the Central Subway. Commissioner Garcia-Nakata stated that it is important to ensure there is cooperation and integration between the artwork installed at the entrance and the type of facility that will be constructed over the entrance as it may have a very particular aesthetic and brand. She warned against commissioning an artwork that doesn't fit with the resulting facility.

    Commissioner Przyblyski stated that a temporary, low-budget solution for an aboveground presence adjacent to a station could consist of a banner program or light standards to be placed along a one block radius. She stated that each of the Central Subway stations should have a major signature piece; a temporary rotating exhibit; and a broadly dispersed place-making intervention throughout the station, or a conceptual through-line. Mr. Cancel stated that with the uncertainty about the multi-level facility above the Chinatown and the Moscone station entrances, the budget for artworks underground should be determined first. Commissioners stated that a private development above the entrance stations, if located in the C-3 district, could generate its own percent for art requirement which could then become another opportunity for a public artwork at the entrances.

    Ms. Moran thanked Commissioners for the opportunity to allocate one hour of the meeting to the Central Subway Arts Master Plan and encouraged Commissioners to contact her directly if they had any more comments or suggestions.

  3. General Hospital
    Deputy Director of the Public Art Program Susan Pontious requested the appointment of an Arts Commissioner to sit on the Selection Panel for General Hospital on Friday, October 24th. Commissioner Przyblyski asked Commissioner Garcia-Nakata if she would be interested in serving as the point Commissioner for General Hospital. Commissioner Garcia-Nakata stated that she will check her schedule and respond directly to Ms. Pontious. Ms. Pontious explained that the art budget for commissioning several artworks for General Hospital will be $5.5 million. The first step will be the selection of a pre-qualified pool of artists. Then the panel will focus their selection on artists to create artworks that will be integrated into the architecture; these will include artworks that are part of the lobby design and various glass opportunities. The panel will meet on multiple occasions to make additional selections of artists for other opportunities at General Hospital.

    Commissioner Garcia-Nakata asked if the Arts Commission has someone like a doctor at General Hospital to participate on the panel. Ms. Pontious explained that Kathy Jung, Project Manager at General Hospital, will participate on the panel as well as Blue Walcer, Director of CARE (Cancer Awareness, Resources and Education) who does programming with cancer patients, and artist Hilda Shum. Commissioner Garcia-Nakata recommended Sandra Herná ndez, an MD as well as CEO of the San Francisco Foundation for future panels.

  4. "Great Streets" Streetscape Improvement Projects - Valencia Street
    Project Manager Tonia Macneil presented a new public art opportunity for Valencia Street between 15th and 19th Streets as part of the Municipal Transportation Authority's Great Streets Streetscape Improvement Project, which rehabilitates a series of streets with state and federal money. Ms. Macneil stated that the project budget at Valencia Street is $52,000 for a four-block area and the streetscape design is currently at 90 percent design level. The area is a fluctuating urban landscape with limited opportunities for making a prominent statement. She stated that the improvements are intended to make the streets more livable and will include, among other elements, an expanded sidewalk with new lighting, trees, 64 bicycle racks, and more consistent bicycle lanes.

    Ms. Macneil stated that the corner of 16th and Valencia Streets would be a great location for artwork but anything installed at that site would have to be attached to the existing traffic light poles or pedestrian light poles. She explained that the site is very close to the 16th street BART station and the community has expressed their interest in incorporating the Mexican folkloric sensibility found in the "papel picado"-style fences along the BART station and the illuminated glass house by artist Cork Marcheschi and community tile mural on the elevator tower. She stated that the Department of Public Works ("DPW") proposed using a "Day of the Dead" theme for horizontal bike racks and tree grates. Ms. Macneil suggested vertical bike racks that are eight feet tall with a sculpture or artwork installed at the top of the poles although there would be limitations placed on the scale and material of the artwork and sculpture. The budget would allow for approximately 30 or 40 bike racks, as DPW would be paying for the racks themselves. 

    Mr. Cancel stated that he hoped the artists could come up with a more visually interesting sculpture than those shown in the images. Ms. Macneil asked Commissioners what they thought about the "Day of the Dead" theme. Commissioner Garcia-Nakata explained that "papel picado" is more universal and colorful and the "Day of the Dead" theme is more specific to a particular community and may perhaps be controversial.

    Commissioner Przyblyski expressed her preference for continuing the theme of the artworks installed at the nearby BART station. She supported the idea of creating artworks with the bike racks and suggested building on the folkloric and historic background of the neighborhood.

    Commissioner Garcia-Nakata stated that she liked the idea of vertical bike racks because they would complement the new row of trees along the sidewalk. She stated that perhaps the artists could do something creative with the poles. She also stated that if maintenance was an issue in terms of the scratches, perhaps the racks could remain in their raw state instead of coated with a color.

    Motion: Motion to approve the public art program of art on bike racks and selection of one to four artists for the Valencia Street from Streetscape Improvement Project. 
    Moved: Garcia-Nakata/Lloyd

  5. Civic Center Plaza-Temporary Sculpture Proposal
    Ms. Manton reported that the original plans for an installation of a temporary willow sapling sculpture by artist Patrick Dougherty on the sycamore trees at Civic Center Plaza were not going to be feasible because the trees would not be able to support the sculpture, according to the Recreation and Park Department. Ms. Manton also explained that the Recreation and Park Department is proceeding with caution regarding the maintenance of the trees because of a recent Division of Occupational Safety and Health ("Cal/OSHA") fine resulting from an accident related to the pruning of the sycamores. Ms. Manton presented two alternative locations for Mr. Dougherty's installation: South Park and the oak trees on the Grove and Polk Street sides of City Hall. Ms. Manton presented images of the oak trees at City Hall, which were suggested as a potential site by the Recreation and Park Department, but Commissioners did not think this would be an appropriate location for the sculpture. Ms. Manton stated that the flag poles on Civic Center Plaza would not work because they are located too far apart from one another. Ms. Manton explained that Mr. Dougherty suggested South Park as a possible location for a free-standing sculpture but she thought the site might be too small and confined for his work. Commissioners and Mr. Cancel suggested other potential sites including Golden Gate Park, the facade of City Hall, the interior of City Hall, the parking structure on Civic Center Plaza, and a pump station. Ms. Manton stated that she will check with the Recreation and Park Department about the suggested sites, take pictures of some of the potential locations, and encourage Mr. Dougherty to consider a location for his artwork that will be more prominently showcased in the City's important civic spaces. Commissioner Przyblyski stated that the motion will be postponed.

    Motion: Motion to approve three alternate locations for the installation of a temporary willow sapling sculpture by artist Patrick Dougherty and authorization to approve project implementation budget of $50,000: (1) South Park; (2) Oak Trees on Grove and Polk Street side of City Hall; and (3) other location to be identified.

  6. Patricia's Green - Temporary Sculpture Proposal
    Ms. Manton stated that she is working on a loan agreement for Tony Labat's "Peace Sign," to be temporarily installed on Patricia's Green. The agreement will include a fee to fabricate, install and deinstall a new sculpture, which costs as much as transporting and refurbishing the existing sculpture that the Arts Commission originally wished to borrow. The agreement will also provide the Arts Commission with the opportunity to extend the length of the installation, the ability to exhibit the work in another public venue, and the right to retain and accept the work into the Civic Art Collection if the Arts Commission so desires. Ms. Manton reminded Commissioners that Stanlee Gatti, former president of the Arts Commission, wanted to give the sculpture as a gift to the City for placement in the Pan Handle. Commissioner Przyblyski expressed her support for the project and the installation at Patricia's Green in Hayes Valley. Ms. Manton stated that she will determine the gage of the steel for the new work and how it will last through time and announced that Mr. Labat currently is working on an exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art related to recruitment campaigns and Uncle Sam.

    Motion: Motion to approve a loan fee not to exceed $30,000 with Tony Labat for the installation of a peace sign sculpture at Patricia's Green.
    Moved: Johnston/Garcia-Nakata

  7. Academy of Sciences
    Ms. Manton reported on the completion of the installation of Maya Lin's "Where the Land Meets the Sea" at the California Academy of Sciences. The sculpture is installed at a height of 15 feet and is attached to six columns and nine thin cables suspended from the overhead glass and steel canopy. An interpretive plaque will be installed with includes a map with the section of the Bay Area that is represented in the sculpture. Tonight at 7:30 pm, KQED will air an interview with Maya Lin about the sculpture, which will also include interviews with Commissioner Przyblyski and Academy scientists. The dedication of the sculpture will take place October 24th at 3:30 or 3:45 pm and will be coordinated with Maya Lin's exhibition opening at the de Young Museum. The dedication will take place right before the reception at the de Young Museum.

    Motion: Motion to approve the final installation of Where the Land Meets the Sea by Maya Lin for the California Academy of Sciences and authorization to accept the artwork into Civic Art Collection.
    Moved: Garcia-Nakata, Lloyd

  8. "Great Streets" Streetscape Improvement Projects - Leland Avenue
    Presentation of this item is postponed to the next Visual Arts Committee meeting.

  9. SOMA West Ancillary Improvement Projects
    Presentation of this item is postponed to the next Visual Arts Committee meeting.

  10. Arts Festival Exhibition at San Francisco International Airport
    Ms. Pontious presented the October 11, 2008 opening of the exhibition The Art of a City: The History of the San Francisco Arts Festival 1946-1986 at the San Francisco International Airport. She explained that the Arts Commission used budgeted monies from the City's general fund to purchase jury-selected works by local artists from the annual city-sponsored festival. The collection includes works by artists like Viola Frey, Robert Arneson and Peter Voulkos, and unique pieces of modernist jewelry. The exhibition will feature works that were purchased during this period and Ms. Pontious suggested holding a reception with the artists at the Airport. Commissioner Przyblyski and Mr. Cancel agreed that a reception in November would be a great idea.

  11. New Business
    Ms. Manton reported on her recommendation to the Transbay Joint Powers Authority staff to develop a public art program that uses the limited funding in a judicious way to make fewer, but more significant, statements. She explained that the Transbay Terminal senior staff and project architects seemed supportive of the idea of conducting an invitational competition in October for this first phase of projects. Mr. Cancel and Commissioner Przyblyski will serve as the Arts Commission designees on the Transbay Art Steering Committee. Ms. Manton also explained that a private office tower that provides the funding for the Transbay Center will be subject to the one percent for art in private development requirement and it's possible that part of this one percent could be used for programming public art for the City Park, which will be at the roof level of the Transbay Terminal or Mission Square between Mission Street and Transbay Terminal, or for the art budget for the permanent work in the Transbay Terminal.

  12. Old Business
    There was no old business to report.

  13. Adjournment
    The meeting was adjourned at 5:03 pm.

MC 9/29/2008