Grant funding artwork in new neighborhood

A cohort of artists will be given seven months and $1 million to churn out public artwork for a new southeast San Francisco neighborhood.

The artistic sprint will begin in January, after participating artists have been selected from a pool of 283 applicants to help beautify Parcel A at the shuttered Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, which is being redeveloped.

Master developer Lennar Corp. recently filed applications for building permits needed to construct the first 88 of up to 1,500 homes planned at the 75-acre parcel, where home-building is expected to begin by March, according to San Francisco Redevelopment Agency Project Manager Thor Kaslofsky.

The agency is selecting artists to participate in a $1 million public art program that will decorate Parcel A using a U.S. Economic Development Administration grant.

To meet conditions of the grant, artists will need to complete and install their pieces by July.

“The timeline is being driven by the deadlines that we have at the federal level,” Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Fred Blackwell said during a workshop for the program Tuesday. “We are somewhat loathe to give the money back.”

Agency staff and a consultant recommended using the funds to commission up to 15 pieces of art, including one major piece costing $400,000 and a handful of $25,000 pieces by up-and-coming artists.

That plan was sharply criticized by agency commissioners, who suggested to instead get a small number of striking pieces.

“Fifteen at a time — that’s a formula for a crazy house,” Commissioner Francee Covington said.

Covington said she was disappointed that grant conditions prevent the agency from favoring local artists in the selection process. The final number of commissioned artistic pieces has not been finalized.

The 770-acre redevelopment project features an emphasis on art because the former shipyard is home to a colony of artists.

jupton@sfexaminer.com

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