Monday, July 27, 2009
Adaptations 2: Patricia's Green
For over 30 years, a doubledecker freeway ran through the Hayes Valley neighborhood like a festering wound, but the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake damaged the structure sufficiently that it was torn down by Caltrans, and committed neighborhood activists managed to keep the monstrosity from being resurrected.
Of course, there is a new, surface roadway leading from Market Street and the 101 freeway known as Octavia Boulevard, which is a case of disastrous urban planning all of its own. However, at the end of that car-centric mess, a beautiful little park called Patricia's Green was installed just as this blog was starting up over four years ago.
The first post, in fact, was about David Best's temple, which was the first collaboration between the Black Rock Arts Foundation and the Hayes Valley Art Coaliation.
The popularity and the example set by that initial temple has been wonderful for San Francisco public art. The process used to involve a long, expensive, and elitist bureaucratic tangle that commissioned work from an established artist, usually outside of the Bay Area. This would take years to fund, negotiate, and install, and if the people living around the art hated it, they basically had to lump it.
With "temporary" neighborhood installations, however, if you don't like it, just wait for a bit and the thing will be gone and replaced by something else. This Burning Man, transitory aesthetic has essentially been a quiet revolution in San Francisco over the last four years. It has also probably led the San Francisco Art Commission into some interesting new ways of thinking, evidenced by its current Patrick Dougherty commission in Civic Center Plaza, and the other "temporary" installations they have sponsored, from Louise Bourgeois' waterfront spider to Manolo Valdes' Infanta sculptures.
Patricia's Green has hosted a few sculptural clunkers over the last four years, but most of the exhibits have been magical, such as the Best Temple, the Wowhaus miniature golf course, and Koilos from Burning Man. Mark Baugh-Sasaki's "Adaptations" is a welcome addition to the neighborhood, where it will reside until the end of the year. As Matthew Hubbard commented, "twigs are the new marble."