At Dawn financial district employees carry their morning coffee inside an office building at 720 Market Street. Welcoming them is a bronze angel, wings outstretched as if it too has just risen from sleep. In the southwest corner of the city, an undulating canopy inspired by the surrounding hills deflects morning sunlight from Muni commuters starting their day at San Francisco State University. Both the angel’s creator, Professor Emeritus Stephen De Staebler, and the artists behind the Muni platforms, Professor Leonard Hunter and Sheila Ghidini, are among the faculty and students, present and past, whose public artworks improve the daily experience of those who live and work in the city. Their artistry, on display in every district, can remind passersby to pause and reflect on a hectic day, make a long wait at a transit station more tolerable and provide teaching moments about culture and history.
Inside the Civic Center Courthouse jury assembly room Professor Lewis deSoto’s glass etchings, featuring scenes from the signing of the U.S. Constitution, remind visitors of the importance of their civic duties. Nearby, inside City Hall, a bench created by students from SF State and Thurgood Marshall Academic High School stands as a testament to the value of community service-learning.
Nurturing creativity is a longstanding tradition at SF State where artist Guy Diehl trained under Robert Bechtle, one of the most respected American photorealists. Today paintings created by the professor emeritus and his former student are on display inside San Francisco’s airport and general hospital, respectively.
SF State artistry, as much a part of the city landscape as hills, fog and Victorians, is the product of thoughtful consideration to the local community. The multicultural neighborhood surrounding the Mission Branch Library inspired Emmanuel Montoya to adorn its lobby with deities of knowledge from different mythologies. A desire to bring nature to an urban landscape prompted both Eduardo Pineda’s Aztec animal imagery at Jose Coronado Playground and Rupert Garcia’s mosaic that places a bird against a backdrop of modern-day aviation technology.
These artworks beautify street corners, swimming pools, fire and police stations -- nearly every place city residents spend their time. Viewing these creations throughout the city, one is reminded of the words of Pablo Picasso, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
Some creative statements remind passersby of the shoulders on which they stand and the sacrifice of others. Ann Chamberlain’s memorial to fallen soldiers in the Spanish Civil War occupies a stretch of space on the Justin Herman Plaza. Dewey Crumpler’s vibrant mural on the Joseph P. Lee Recreation Center tells the story of the relationship between African and African American cultures. In a quiet courtyard between SF State’s Burk Hall and Fine Arts building, Ruth Asawa’s Garden of Remembrance honors the Americans of Japanese ancestry interned during World War II. To find out where you can see these and other works created by SF State artists, see Notes from the Road..
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