City and County of San FranciscoSan Francisco Arts Commission

September 21, 2011

Visual Arts Committee - September 21, 2011
Wednesday September 21, 2011
3 p.m.
25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 70


Commissioners Present: Lorraine Garcia-Nakata, Greg Chew, PJ Johnston, Dorka Keehn, Barbara Sklar.

Staff Present: JD Beltran, Mary Chou, Allison Cummings, Carol Marie Daniels, Marcus Davies, Jennifer Lovvorn, Jill Manton, Kate Patterson, Susan Pontious, Zoë Taleporos.

Note: All votes are unanimous unless recorded otherwise.

The meeting commenced at 3:01 p.m.

1. Consent Calendar

1. Motion to approve an artist honorarium in the amount of $1500 to Bert Bergen for his curatorial and artistic contributions to an SFAC Gallery exhibition about silk-screening in the Bay Area scheduled for exhibition at San Francisco City Hall.

2. Motion to approve an artist honorarium in the amount of $2000 to both Reenie Charriere and Tahiti Pehrson for their artistic contributions to upcoming SFAC Gallery exhibitions at our window installation site at 155 Grove Street.

3. Motion to approve an artist honorarium in the amount of $1200 to each of the following artists that will be participating in an exhibition at the SFAC Gallery: Luca Antonucci, Jonathon Keats, Philip Ross, Heather Sparks and Gail Wight.

4. Motion to authorize the Director of Cultural Affairs to increase the contract amount with artist Colette Crutcher by $3,000 for a total contract amount not to exceed $38,000 for design, fabrication, transportation and installation/consultation during installation of the exterior artwork for the new Chinese Recreation Center.

5. Motion to approve, Safe Passage, a stenciled pavement mural along 11 designated ‘safe’ city blocks in the Tenderloin neighborhood. The mural is designed by Sylvester Guard and the late John Janois. The project is sponsored by the North of Market/ Tenderloin Community Benefit District.

Motion: Motion to approve consent calendar items.
Moved: Keehn/Chew

2. Central Subway
Jennifer Lovvorn

A. Chinatown Station – Landmark Artwork (Artist Yumei Hou)
Staff Report: Yumei Hou Contract

Project Manager Jennifer Lovvorn reported on the Landmark Artwork Project for the Central Subway Chinatown Station by Yumei Hou. Ms. Lovvorn stated that the artist is not willing to enter into the standard agreement with the City for the full scope of work associated with the implementation of a public art project based on her reservations about certain contract provisions. Ms. Lovvorn noted that after working with the Deputy City Attorney, a revised contract was presented to Ms. Hou, which she finds acceptable. Ms. Lovvorn explained that the scope of services in the revised contract has been limited to Conceptual Design Development and review of artwork implementation. Additionally, the artist’s liability was substantially reduced and the indemnity clause was modified so that the artist is required to indemnify the City only for any damages that arise from her own negligence. Ms. Lovvorn noted that during Conceptual Design Development, the artist will work with an outside design consultant hired by the San Francisco Arts Commission (“SFAC”) that is compliant with City contract requirements. Ms. Lovvorn reported that in the unlikely event that someone should sustain damage caused by the artist during the Conceptual Design Development phase, the City would be responsible to pay for damages using SFAC operating funds. Ms. Lovvorn stated that the exposure to possible risk is low since the artist is only working on the conceptual design. Commissioner Sklar asked if this is an agreement model that the Pubic Art Program will be using from now on. Public Art Program Director Susan Pontious stated that this particular case was unique and will not be used as a model for future contracts.

Ms. Lovvorn reminded the Commissioners that at last month’s Visual Arts Committee (“VAC”) meeting, she explained how the location of the Landmark Artwork will change due to revisions in the Chinatown Station architecture. Ms. Lovvorn stated the she and the project team propose to move the artwork to two locations: the south wall of the escalator landing; and the north wall of the ticketing hall which is near the base of the escalator. Ms. Lovvorn noted that these locations are in direct lines of vision for multiple areas of the station creating high visibility. Ms. Lovvorn discussed the fabrication method for this artwork that will include painted water jet cut steel shapes that are panelized and installed with a system of stand offs so that the panels are at approximately 3” from the face of the wall. Ms. Lovvorn stated that although a support grid will be noticeable the artist will be directed to incorporate that as part of her design. She noted that the work will include a 3”margin at its top and an 18” margin at its bottom to allow for installation and protection from floor cleaning. Ms. Lovvorn added that the scale and placement of the artwork at the two wall locations were modified since the presentation last month to address Commissioner Johnston’s concerns that the artwork be designed to fill the walls rather than resemble a framed painting.

Motion: Motion to approve the form of the contract between the City and artist Yumei Hou for conceptual design and consultation during artwork implementation, which shall be substantially in the same form as the contract document provided to Commissioners for review.
Moved: Keehn/Johnston

Motion: Motion to approve the revised artwork locations, placement and proposed materials for an artwork by Yumei Hou for Chinatown Station.
Moved: Sklar/Chew

B. Chinatown Station – Wayfinding Artwork (Artist Tomie Arai)

Ms. Lovvorn reported that revisions to the Central Subway Chinatown Station architecture would also change the location of the Wayfinding Artwork by Tomie Arai. Ms. Lovvorn described Ms. Arai’s Conceptual Design proposal of incorporating contemporary and historical images related to the Chinatown neighborhood into the station’s entryway and glass elevator shaft. Ms. Lovvorn reported that although these opportunities are no longer available, the artist in collaboration with the project architect has identified the following new opportunities: the Stockton Street-facing parapet facade of the station; and the end walls of the platform. Ms. Lovvorn noted that the artist is still determining whether she will use art glass or porcelain enamel as her fabrication materials.


Motion: Motion to approve Conceptual Design Phase (artwork locations and placement) for the artwork by Tomie Arai for Chinatown Station.
Moved: Sklar/Chew

3. Collections

Allison Cummings

A. Loan Request from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Senior Registrar Allison Cummings reported that she received a request from the de Young Museum in San Francisco for the loan of Stephen De Staebler artwork’s Stele. Ms. Cummings stated that the sculpture is currently on long term loan to a city department as a part of the office loan program, and would like to see it temporarily displayed in a museum context. She also noted that the de Young would bear all costs associated with loan. Ms. Cummings commented that she was in favor of the loan to grant more public exposure to this work and to the Civic Art Collection as a whole.

Motion: Motion to approve the loan of Stephen De Staebler artwork Stele, 1963, a cast aluminum sculpture, approximately 80 in. x 40 in. x 12 in. (SFAC Accession Number 1964.7) to the exhibition “Matter and Spirit: The Sculpture of Stephen De Staebler” organized by the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Loan dates are January 14, 2012 to April 22, 2012.
Moved: Johnston/Sklar

B. Collections by the Numbers – summary report on FY10/11 collection’s activity

Ms. Cummings provided a summary of the accomplishments of the Civic Art Collection department for Fiscal Year 2010 -2011. Ms. Cummings reported that funding for the collection had increased as a result of the activities of the previous year. She stated that staff had participated in two fundraising events for the ArtCare program and received 53 individual donations for the conservation of artworks in the collection. Ms. Cummings noted that 140 objects were accessioned into the collection, resulting in a 3.5% increase to the scope of the collection, while 2 artworks were de-accessioned. She added that the Civic Art Collection staff oversaw the conservation and/or maintenance of 47 artworks, and responded to 20 incidents of vandalism. Ms. Cummings mentioned that the Civic Art Collection staff administered the conservation, framing and installation of 21 significant artworks from the collection at the San Francisco International Airport, Terminal Two. Additionally, they administered multiple city office loan projects, documenting and relocating 95 artworks from the portable collection. Ms. Cummings reminded the Commissioners of the role that Civic Art Collection staff plays in commissioning new public artworks by reviewing Art Enrichment proposals and advanced design concepts for the Public Art Program staff. She reported that 22 projects were evaluated in the Fiscal Year. Ms. Cummings noted that the Civic Art Collection staff fielded numerous collections inquiries from within the agency, the general public and the press, while providing documentation for five collections related Sunshine Requests. And finally, Ms. Cummings reported that the Civic Art Collection staff participated on camera for two Culture Wire episodes.

C. Mark Adams Tapestry Recovery Update

Ms. Cummings reported that she went to court this month to retrieve the Mark Adams Tapestry from the San Francisco Police Department. Ms. Cummings noted that the person who previously possessed the tapestry put in a petition to have it returned to her personal residence. However, Ms. Cummings was successful in explaining the Civic Art Collections’ ownership of the work. Ms. Cummings stated that the tapestry will go to a fine art storage facility where it will be evaluated by a conservator and held as the Commission determines the disposition of the artwork.

D. Hidalgo Monument in Dolores Park – tree damage and vandalism abatement

Ms. Cummings reported that a tree had fallen on Juan Olaguibel’s 1962 monument Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla located in Dolores Park. Ms. Cummings noted that the Recreation and Parks Department had removed the fallen tree while she arranged for ARG Conservation Services to evaluate the damage to the sculpture. Ms. Cummings stated while no structural damage was sustained, ARG Conservation Services took the opportunity to remove graffiti on the sculpture and seal connection points in the bronze for waterproofing. The work was completed in time for the annual Mexican Independence celebration in Dolores Park.

4. North Beach Library

Mary Chou

Project Manager Mary Chou presented the artist Bill Fontana’s proposal as recommended by the Artist Selection Panel for an artwork at the new North Beach Library. Ms. Chou reported that the artist has proposed an audio composition compiling the sounds of the North Beach neighborhood that will be played through speakers installed around the exterior perimeter of the library. Ms. Chou noted that a sound sample was presented to the selection panel representing a preliminary version of the artists’ composition. She commented that in the final version, the artist plans to incorporate historical recordings of long term North Beach residents reflecting on their experiences in the neighborhood. Ms. Chou mentioned that there was a lot of discussion among the panelists regarding the content of the artist’s audio composition. She noted that the preliminary sample included a lot of environmental sounds such as trolley cars, sea lions and water from the Bay. Ms. Chou explained how the panel felt the sounds were too expected for the neighborhood and hoped the artist would include sounds more specific to the library, sounds that reflect the various languages spoken in the area, and sounds that incorporate the area’s rich literary history. Ms. Chou noted that the panel was also concerned about the placement of the speakers and felt the artist should work with the architect to relocate them to other areas in or around the library. Ms. Chou stated that the panel’s feedback was communicated to the artist who is willing to adapt his audio composition and the placement of the speakers as the design develops.

Ms. Chou mentioned that the library is located in an area with a lot of ambient noise. In order to address concerns of noise pollution, the artist is proposing to attach a microphone on the roof of the library to measure ambient sound levels. She explained that through this technology, the volume of the artist’s audio composition could adjust according to the existing volume of neighborhood sounds. Commissioner Johnston commented that the area is heavily activated by the use of the nearby playground, library and trolley cars, as well as pedestrian and street traffic. He expressed concern that the community would respond unfavorably towards a sound based installation since it would add to the already high noise level. Director of Cultural Affairs JD Beltran remarked that the artist uses specialized speakers that concentrate sound in particular areas and that the audio would not be heard unless one was in a specific location in relation to the position of the speakers.

Commissioner Johnston expressed that he shared the same concerns of the panel regarding the content of the audio composition. He felt that in its current iteration, the audio composition did not distinguish itself enough from the North Beach environmental sound or provide anything but expected content. Ms. Chou introduced Mindy Linetzky, bond program administrator at the Department of Pubic Works, who participated as a non-voting member of the selection panel, to share her viewpoint on the panel’s selection. Ms. Linetzky felt that the selection panel chose Bill Fontana on the strength of his past work with the expectation that the artist develop the idea under the direction of the project architect and SFAC staff. Ms. Linetzky noted that the panel’s recommendation was to accept Bill Fontana and his proposal pending further development of the content of his sound composition and the location of the speakers. Ms. Pontious suggested amending the artist’s contract to include Conceptual Design Development as a deliverable before entering into the Design Development phase and revising the motions to include the panel’s recommendations.


Motion: Motion to approve the artist Bill Fontana and the artist's proposal as recommended by the Artist Selection Panel for an artwork at the new North Beach Library pending further development of conceptual proposal in collaboration with SFAC staff and the project architect.
Moved: Keehn/Chew


Motion: Motion to authorize the Director of Cultural Affairs to enter into a contract with Bill Fontana for design, fabrication, transportation and installation/consultation during installation of an artwork for the new North Beach Library in an amount not to exceed $75,000.
Moved: Johnston/ Chew

5. Public Safety Building
Mary Chou

Ms. Chou presented the conceptual designs for three artworks at the new Public Safety Building. She explained that all three artists had met with the project team and stakeholders to discuss their conceptual designs earlier this month. Ms. Chou began her presentation by describing the conceptual design of artist Shimon Attie who was selected to create a memorial to fallen police officers in the main entryway of the Public Safety Building. Ms. Chou stated that the proposal incorporates a large glass cylinder suspended from a ceiling oculus. The glass cylinder contains transcriptions of expressions of gratitude to police officers that the artist intends to collect from the community. Ms. Chou noted that the artist has included a polished stone backdrop that wraps slightly around the glass cylinder which is etched with the phrase “where proudly valor sadly sleeps.” She explained that while the wording is still not finalized, the phrase is meant to contextualize the memorial and inspire viewers to have their own expression of gratitude. Ms. Chou noted that opposite the glass cylinder, the artist has created a space to reflect on an existing memorial taken from the current Hall of Justice with the names of fallen officers carved into granite. The space incorporates another polished stone wrap as well as a seating area. Ms. Chou said that the artist is currently working with the building architects to determine the color of the stone backdrops, and showed the Commissioners renderings with both gray and black as options. Ms. Chou reported that the artist originally intended to have the oculus function as an operable skylight, but that SFAC staff felt that this was not feasible; Commissioners agreed. Ms. Chou noted that the project team and stakeholders, including three representatives from the Bay Area Law Enforcement Assistance Fund (“BALEAF”), all responded favorably towards the design and were in support of the project moving forward.

Commissioner Garcia-Nakata asserted that the artist should work on the wording of the phrase behind the glass cylinder. She commented that as it now stood, the phrase seemed awkward and contained grammatical errors that should be corrected. Ms. Beltran commented that the stone background should be dark color to create contrast, allowing the artwork and its text to be visible from a distance and at night. Commissioner Garcia-Nakata inquired about the structural feasibility of the glass cylinder suspended from the ceiling. Ms. Chou responded, stating that minimal attachments on the cylinder and suspension cables would prevent the glass from swaying during an earthquake. Ms. Pontious added that the design has been evaluated by two structural engineers who both thought it could be executed without problems.

Ms. Chou described the conceptual design for the community plaza at the Public Safety Building by Paul Kos. Ms. Chou explained that the artist is proposing several elements for the plaza including a large bronze bell that rings twelve times a day at noon, a granite seven-pointed star, landscaping, and boulders to create entry points and seating. Ms. Chou stated that the artist would like to include a water element to turn the granite star into a fountain. She and the artist are working with the Department of Public Works to explore that option. Ms. Chou noted that if the water element is not feasible, the artist is in favor of utilizing the star as a seating area. Ms. Chou reported that when the SFAC staff reviewed the proposal, they thought the entryway boulders were too large and blocked the sightline of the bell. Because of this feedback, the artist is currently sourcing other boulders and is experimenting with different sizes and configurations. Ms. Pontious noted that the project team liked the basic elements of Mr. Kos’ design, but felt it needed further editing. The project team directed him to work closely with the building’s landscape architect to pare down the design. Commissioner Garcia-Nakata commented that she liked the direction of the proposal, but agreed that the design should be simplified. Commissioners also expressed their support for the star as a seating element instead of a water feature as it would allow for more seating in the plaza.

Ms. Chou discussed the conceptual design by the artist team Merge who was selected to produce an artwork for the fire station at the Public Safety Building. Ms. Chou explained that after reviewing several design options, staff recommended to the Project Team a proposal based on the City’s cisterns. In their proposal, Merge replicates the circular pattern of the cisterns in terracotta tile on the façade of the fire station which extends to the sidewalk to become brick seating. Also proposed is the inclusion of text etched into the building’s façade explaining the use of cisterns, and applied enamel panels with photographs of every cistern in the City. Ms. Chou noted that the building architects were not in favor of the amount of treatment on the façade. Ms. Pontious added that the architects’ use of a rusticated grid in the concrete as a unifying element creates challenges in executing Merge’s proposal. Ms. Chou explained that stakeholders in the San Francisco Fire Department (“SFFD”) had some reservations about the concept of the design. Particularly, they felt that that the public is generally unfamiliar with the function of cisterns, and felt the form of the cisterns as represented in the proposal did not reflect the work they do in the community. Ms. Chou remarked that the architects liked an earlier version of Merge’s cistern proposal which had a more simple treatment of the façade and a greater emphasis on sculptural seating. However, Ms. Chou commented that the SFFD would like the artist team to revisit their conceptual design altogether. Ms. Chou stated that she will continue to work with Merge to develop additional concepts.

Motion: Motion to approve the conceptual design of an artwork by Scott Attie for the Police Memorial for the new Public Safety Building.
Moved: Johnston/ Chew

Motion: Motion to approve the conceptual design of an artwork by Paul Kos for the Community Plaza of the new Public Safety Building.
Moved: Sklar/Johnston


Motion: Motion to approve the conceptual design of an artwork by Merge for the Fire Station of the new Public Safety Building.


6. Public Utilities Commission
Jill Manton

Report on the status of the Memorandum of Understanding between the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Public Utilities Commission.

Motion to approve the Memorandum of Understanding between the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Public Utilities Commission.

7. New Projects
Susan Pontious

A. Transbay Streetscape

Ms. Pontious notified the Commissioners that the Public Art Program has been asked to manage a series of streetscape projects connected to the new Transbay Terminal. Ms. Pontious noted that there were two possible artwork opportunities being discussed for Folsom Street: a mural work; or a series of five sculptures located at various intersections leading to the terminal. Ms. Pontious noted that a new park is being created for that neighborhood which may lead to another art opportunity.

B. Daggett Place Park

Ms. Pontious reported that the new Daggett Place Park, located at 16th Street and Potrero Avenue, presents an opportunity for a new public art commission. Ms. Pontious noted that the funds allocated for public art are not Art Enrichment, but are voluntarily contributed from developer fees.

8. New Business

Project Manager Marcus Davies requested Commissioner representation on the Artist Selection Panel for Cabrillo Playground and Clubhouse. Commissioner Chew volunteered to serve on the panel.

9. Old Business

Review and update on the status of artist Tom Otterness’ contract.

10. Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 5:06

ZT 9/21/11


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