Storefront art spiffs up Market Street 

Vacant storefronts in San Francisco’s Central Market neighborhood have gotten an artistic facelift thanks to the efforts of The City’s Art Commission.

Now in its second year, Art in Storefronts features six storefront installations and five murals on and near Market Street. The work, which will remain on view until Aug. 13, is full of unexpected surprises.

Keeping neighborhoods looking vibrant as commercial rental signs appear is a challenge for cities across the country, says Luis R. Cancel, San Francisco’s director of cultural affairs. Infusing the area with art is one way to keep things lively.

“You’re giving people a reason to come into the neighborhood and linger,” he says.

Rather than try to fit pre-existing art into empty buildings, all the installations and murals were created especially for the spaces they occupy.

 

“This isn’t work that’s been sitting around in somebody’s studio,” Cancel says.

The projects will be unveiled at a celebration Friday afternoon. The festivities begin outside Gray Area Foundation for the Arts. Gamelan X, a Balinese fusion ensemble, will lead a procession up Market Street. Visitors can also enjoy performances by the John Brothers Piano Company, the Jaz Sawyer Trio and the Space Cowboys DJ Collective. Those who would rather make their own music can check out Bulbous, a temporary wall of drums set up at United Nations Plaza.

Most of the artists will be on hand giving impromptu talks in front of their work — and there’s plenty to talk about.

Artist Alexis Arnold pays tribute to the city’s bike culture with bicycle tire rims encased with crystals. The rims are suspended in a window that also contains gold painted U-locks.

Not far away, artist Rafael Landea has painted a mural of theater seats, paying homage to the theaters that once filled Market Street.

Artist Amber Hasselbring’s photo-collage mural focuses on the Western Tiger Swallowtail butterfly and the London Plane tree — both species found on Market Street.

Artist Vanesa Gingold has created sculptures and mobiles inspired by interviews with people from the Central Market area.

Art in Storefronts is part of the ARTery Project, an ongoing effort to help revitalize the Central Market area with the aid of a $250,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Friday’s event will include receptions at three neighborhood galleries and the unveiling of two 20-foot flower sculptures by artist Karen Cusolito with the support of Black Rock Arts Foundation.

IF YOU GO

Art in Storefronts

Where: Opening events at Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, 998 Market St., San Francisco
When: 5 to 7 p.m. Friday
Admission: Free
Contact: sfartscommission.org/storefronts
Note: Installations and murals are located at 998, 1020, 1066, 1089, 1106, 1112, 1127 and 1155 Market St., and 55 Taylor St. in The City.

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Cathy Bowman

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