Building off Jane Jacob’s maxim that more eyes on a street make the street feel safer, the San Francisco Arts Commission has commissioned numerous artists to display their projects in abandoned storefronts as part of the Art in Storefronts program, and as the photo above illustrates, some of those eyes are literally watching you.
Rather than feeling any Orwellian tremors, I found the eyes mural, called The Color Therapy of Perception by Chor Boogie, and the other projects, such as Bayly and Miller’s Find Your self in Natural History, a warm and welcoming visual addition to an otherwise bleak stretch of plywood-covered store fronts along Market Street between 5th and 6th Streets. And I wasn’t alone. People stopped, took pictures, and shot video of the artists as they put the finishing touches on their work, in preparation for the official public launch ceremony this afternoon.
Art in Storefronts is a complement to the Better Market Street traffic diversion pilot started by the MTA last month and seeks to enliven the aesthetic appearance of the street, turning a down economic situation into an opportunity to showcase the work of local San Francisco artists. Art in Storefronts already received national attention when Time Magazine referenced it as an innovation for combating "vacancy blight."
Art in Storefronts reaches beyond Market Street to several locations in the Tenderloin, the Mission, and the Bayview. It is a collaboration between the San Francisco Arts Commission, Mayor Gavin Newsom’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, Triple Base gallery, and the Department of Public Works (DPW). The pilot project will continue until at least February 1st, when its extension will be re-evaluated.
The Art Commission and the MTA’s new paintings in the Art in Kiosks program have also started showing up on Market Street, including beautiful watercolors by Pamela Wilson-Ryckman. The paintings depict subjects in various city parks, taken from archival photographs, which, according to Wilson-Ryckman, “suggest experiences of isolation and loneliness but also of affirmation within the densely populated city.” The Art in Kiosks program runs through December 31st.
A celebration featuring live bands will begin with an unveiling ceremony today from 5-7 pm at 989 Market Street (at 6th Street) followed by a reception next door (979 Market Street) where the public can pick up a map of the newly-transformed storefronts. The public will also have the opportunity to meet the artists who will be stationed at their installations discussing their work.
More of Chor Boogie’s mural and Kiosk watercolors after the jump.