Public Art Proposal Display

N-Judah Gateway Plaza Public Art Project Artist Proposals


The San Francisco Arts Commission is working with Supervisor Katy Tang and the Planning Department to commission signature public artworks for the new N-Judah Gateway Plaza, to be located at Judah and La Playa streets. The artworks will provide artist-designed seating for the plaza (exact locations of artworks to be determined as plaza design is finalized). Three artists were chosen as finalists by a Public Art Selection Panel for the N-Judah Gateway Plaza opportunity: Aileen Barr, Sarah Hotchkiss, and Jesse Schlesinger. 


by Aileen Barr

Judah_2.1-CS6-small.jpgOcean beach is an ever-changing landscape as tides and winds reveal and cover various manmade structures and detritus of nature.  Whole walkways can be revealed after winter storms and then hidden again within a few months. My theme for this project is to look at what is hidden and revealed.

The seating shapes are loosely based on pebbles and stones found along ocean beach. These shapes also recall the soft curves of the ever-changing sand dunes. They look like they have been shaped by the weather or ocean taking on organic and soft forms, eroded over time to expose bands of colorful tile. 

The tiles will have imprints of natural and man-made objects found within the area e.g. seaweed, vegetation, shells, insects as well as various manufactured objects found along the beach. The prints will be committed to memory in the clay tile. The separate bands of the tile take their color from the surrounding landscape, blues of the ocean, greens of vegetation, yellow/oranges of sand and sunsets. From a distance the tile will look like bands of color and on closer inspection the detailed prints will be visible.

The seats will be made in concrete with tile insets. They will be fabricated with a rigid interior and have a polished concrete finish. The insets for tile will be formed during fabrication and the tile will be installed once completed.  The tile will be flush with the concrete. The contrast between the polished concrete and tile will offset these colors. The seats will be treated with an anti-graffiti coating. 

I propose to create 10 seating stones and in consultation with city planners, they will be scattered around the Gateway Plaza.

Artist, Wes Horn, will fabricate the forms. He has worked on a number of concrete art projects and is based outside of Davis CA. I would work closely with him in all aspects of this phase of the project. A full-size clay original of each seating element will be sculpted over an armature, from which three-piece rigid mother mold of fiber glass will be made around the flexible original. The insets for tile will be formed at this stage also. 

The mold is turned upside down and the armature is suspended and anchored so it is set back a minimum of 2" from the mold wall. Additionally, a second foam inset will be anchored with a minimum 2" setback from the interior of the steel armature to reduce the finished weight. The cement mix is then poured into the form, vibrated to remove air cavities, and allowed to cure. The 'pebble' is then returned to upright and the raised portion of the insets are ground down and polished to reveal the concrete finish.

The specific installation procedure will need to be worked-out/clarified with the city and a structural engineer. For now this is how the fabricator envisions it. The installation would involve drilling 4, 5/8" receiving holes, at least 3" into the existing pavement. These holes would align with corresponding holes on the 'pebbles' exposed steel mounting frame/armature. Four 5/8" self-anchoring bolts would then be tapped into place and secured with locking bolts and washers. The exposed mounting frame/armature would be powder coated to protect from the marine environment.

View larger image here.

Swing Bench Trio

by Sarah Hotchkiss

Hotchkiss_N Judah.jpgConcept
Sometimes sitting just isn’t enough, and you need to swing slightly back and forth while sitting. Swinging is conducive to reading, thinking, chatting and relaxing. It puts you in a rhythm. 

Each bench in Swing Bench Trio seats 1-4 people: friends, family or strangers. (Swinging with a stranger is slightly more intimate than simply sitting next to a stranger.)

Swing Bench Trio takes the idea of the garden swing bench and updates it for a day spent at Ocean Beach – playing bocce in La Playa’s meridian, running into old friends at Java Beach Cafe or simply watching the fog roll in (while wearing a cozy sweater).

Proposed Locations
Depending on the finalized site of the public seating installation, Swing Bench Trio can be installed together, with each bench facing inward, or scattered throughout the area to provide different vantage points of the community garden, sand dunes or busy sidewalks.

The powder-coated stainless steel 316 (marine-grade) framework is made of 2” square posts welded together and bolted (like bike racks) into either existing concrete or a slab poured for this purpose. Flat planes of stainless steel welded around the framework provide overhead shade and periodic privacy for those sitting on the benches. The benches themselves are made of the same powder-coated stainless steel, reinforced internally to support the weight of 1-4 adults at a time.

The swing bench’s horizontal fulcrum will be made out of a circular tube of stainless steel 316, with two shorter tubes of moveable housing slipped onto each end of the stationary tube. The bench’s “arms” and support framework will be welded to the pieces of moveable housing.

Each swing bench has a different colored framework and bench to create optical variety within the trio. The square and rectangular panes attached to the frameworks are painted on both sides with colors and patterns inspired by nautical flags. The pallette is primary, saturated and beachy.

Artwork Dimensions
Each swing bench is comfortably human scale at the ground level, but rises just high enough to be eye-catching from a distance. The tallest structure is 11’7” tall; the shortest is 10’4” tall. Each structure is 7’4” wide and 32” deep. The benches are 6’6” wide, with a 15-degree tilt in the bench back and a 5-degree tilt of the bench as a whole, providing a relaxing place to lounge.

Anticipated Maintenance Requirements
Stainless steel 316 has excellent corrosion resistance and every metal surface will be covered with a three-part carboline paint and primer that is very effective outdoors and in marine environments. Most paint manufacturers do provide additional paint for touch-ups and I hope to work with a Bay Area powder-coating shop so that if any repairs are necessary, they will be easily accessible for consultation. 

Artist and Subcontractors’ Roles in Project
I will provide the design – dimensions, colors, ideal materials – but will work with skilled fabricators and industry specialists to make sure Swing Bench Trio is made to the best of our abilities to withstand the particular environment of the Outer Sunset and Ocean Beach. I hope to work with one metal fabrication shop (Mark Nicholson Fabrication) and one powder-coating company (NRI Sandblasting and Powder Coating) to create the swing benches. I have also received a competitive quote from Gizmo Art Production, a large-scale art fabrication studio in San Francisco that could handle the entire construction – from welding to powder coating to installation. 

View larger image here. 


by Jesse Schlesinger

sfacnjudah.draft2.jpgThe work consists of seating and sculptures, beginning with a module of an 18 inch cu-be.  The dimensions of the module are derived from the average seat height, and can be expanded vertically or horizontally to create benches, seats of varying widths, platforms or pedestals for sculptures.  The total number of components (seats/sculptures) may be increased or decreased in number as the plaza design develops.

Early maps refer to the region as the Great Sand Bank, a desert of massive sand dunes comprising a large portion of western San Francisco.  The wild openness of this part of the city persisted in the earliest settlements in the neighborhood, in marked contrast to the grid of streets and houses that now inhabit the area.  In consideration of these histories, the two primary formal elements of the work are the square and the circle.  The square represents the existing grid/order and the circle represents the natural elements of ocean, sand, fog and wind that maintain the district's sense of wildness.  The collection of sculpted objects and natural forms also draws reference to the common instinct to walk the beach and look for shells, driftwood, bits deposited by the ocean.

The materials for the blocks will be concrete, salvaged old growth redwood for the seat, and bronze and salvaged burl wood for the sculptural elements.  Some of the concrete blocks will exist solely as sculpture, some as seat bases, and some as sculpture bases.  The colors of the work are determined by the materials: grays, browns, and bronze.  These are natural tones that fit the neighborhood and materials that will patina and weather well: again symbolic of the conversation be-tween the city district that has extended to its natural borders, and the way those natural elements continue to inform its way of life.

The work should require little to no maintenance.  Materials have been determined for their durability and ability to weather well and develop a patina over time that will integrate will with the neighborhood.  Anti-graffiti coating will be applied. 

Artist will design the work and create the sculptural forms for which the bronzes will be based.  Will work with subcontractors to fabricate concrete work, bronzes, and source material for the redwood seats. 

View larger image here.

Opportunity For Public Comment

Arts Commission staff presented the qualifications of 14 artists selected from the 2017/2018 Prequalified Artist Pool to a Public Art Selection Panel. The panel consisted of an Arts Commissioner, one representative of the client agency, one community representative, and two arts professionals. The Panel reviewed and scored the artists on the short list and selected the three highest scoring artists to create proposals for the site: Aileen Barr, Sarah Hotchkiss, and Jesse Schlesinger. The finalists then developed their proposals that are on display at 3 Fish Studios and on the Arts Commission website for public comment from August 7 to August 21, 2017. Comments will be summarized and shared with the Panel prior to the final selection. Please note that comments by interested members of the public do not constitute a vote.

The proposals presented in this exhibition are the finalists' preliminary concepts. The selected proposal will be further developed and refined to determine the fabrication technique, and meet all feasibility, maintenance, safety and other requirements, as needed. All final designs are subject to approval by the Arts Commission prior to implementation.

Please take a few minutes to review the proposals on display here and complete a comment form. You may also hand deliver/mail comments to 401 Van Ness Avenue, Room 325 by Monday, August 21, 2017, 5 p.m. 

The Final Selection Panel meeting will take place on Tuesday, August 29, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. at 401 Van Ness Avenue, Room 302. All Artist Selection Panel meetings are open to the public. An agenda for the meeting will be posted 72-hour in advance of the meeting on Arts Commission’s website under the Public Meeting section.

What's Coming Up

Public Meeting

Full Arts Commission Meeting

October 02
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

City Hall | Rm 416
Public Meeting

Executive Committee Meeting

September 25
12:30 PM to 2:30 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125
Public Meeting

Community Arts, Education & Grants Committee Meeting

October 10
1:00 PM to 3:00 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125
Public Meeting

Street Artists Committee Meeting

September 13
2:30 PM to 4:30 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125