Arts Commission Installs Over 100 Original Works of Art at Laguna Honda Hospital


Media contact:
Kate Patterson, San Francisco Arts Commission
Tel: 415/252-4638 E:


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San Francisco Arts Commission Announces Installation of Over 100 New Public Artworks at the Newly-Renovated Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center

Media Preview Tour Tuesday, May 18 at 10 a.m.


Owen Smith, "Building the Iron Horse", ceramic tile mosaic, 2010.

SAN FRANCISCO, May 17, 2010 – Mayor Gavin Newsom and Director of Cultural Affairs for the San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) Luis R. Cancel are pleased to announce the installation of over 100 new public artworks at the newly-renovated Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center, which is scheduled to open with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, June 26, 2010. In November 1999, San Francisco voters approved a general obligation bond to fund the replacement of Laguna Honda’s 1920’s-era Spanish Revival building with a modern skilled nursing and rehabilitation center. In accordance with the city’s Art Enrichment Ordinance, which mandates that 2% of the total eligible construction costs of civic public works projects be allocated for public art, the project generated approximately $3.9 million in funds for a comprehensive public art program that contributes to the quality of life at the hospital. Seventeen local and national artists were selected to create original works of art in a wide range of media that aesthetically enhance the environment and support the hospital’s clinical needs and therapeutic goals.

“As the state’s first LEED certified hospital, San Francisco has set a new standard for city-run care, and the public art program is equally as impressive,” said Mayor Gavin Newsom. “The San Francisco Arts Commission has done a tremendous job ensuring that the artworks at the new Laguna Honda are of the highest aesthetic standards. The art will be an uplifting force in the lives of the patients and will provide a more pleasurable experience for those who work and visit the new facility.”

“This is one of the largest and most significant public art projects the San Francisco Arts Commission has undertaken,” stated Luis R. Cancel. “Studies have shown that art in a hospital setting has a direct impact on a patient’s recovery and sense of wellbeing. The new artworks at Laguna Honda represent the highest aesthetic standards and demonstrate the city’s commitment to providing a dignified and aesthetically engaging environment for all of its citizens, including those who are most in need. The artwork will be a source of pride for hospital staff and residents for years to come.”

*Previews of the hospital’s public art program can be arranged in advance of the opening. Contact, Kate Patterson at 415/252-4638 or

The Hospital Replacement Program presented the Arts Commission with the rare and exciting opportunity to explore new possibilities for public art in a hospital setting.  To accommodate the size of the new Laguna Honda and the needs of its patients, the public art program was designed to include a large number of artworks of diverse styles and materials. The artworks include individually framed two-dimensional prints, photographs and paintings, glass or tile mosaics, ceramic or porcelain enamel tile, relief sculpture, free standing sculpture and environmental artworks. Many of the projects were conceived with special consideration given to designs that could help address the particular needs of Laguna Honda’s residents. In addition, the art helps fulfill certain programmatic functions called for in the architectural design such as wayfinding, sensory stimulation, activity, memory stimulation and orientation to place and time.

“We value our partnership with the Arts Commission,” said Laguna Honda Executive Administrator Mivic Hirose.  “These installations help to make Laguna Honda a beautiful place to live, work and visit.”

The resident floors in particular were targeted for artworks that assisted in wayfinding and location identity. In the nomenclature of the project, each resident floor is called a neighborhood, and each wing a household.  One artist was assigned to each neighborhood with the charge of creating a unique visual identity for that floor.

Beliz Brother’s large-scale photographic images of brilliantly-colored flowers laminated between two layers of glass and set into light boxes create color-filled areas within the Hospital. Inspired by nature and the passage of time, Diane Andrews Hall’s signature paintings of native San Francisco birds, clouds and the surface of ocean waves were translated into a variety of media including glass mosaic and tapestry. Bernie Lubell and Ann Chamberlain (d. April 2008) drew from the four elements for their artworks, which include a series of light boxes and a triangulated glass relief. Terry Hoff’s playful assemblages mark the entry to each household with colorful reliefs depicting each of the four seasons, and chalkboards with iconic images that encourage interaction with the patients. Takenobu Igarashi created two distinct, yet related designs for his neighborhood artworks—wood and terra-cotta wall reliefs—that share formal characteristics, but are distinct enough to provide clear visual and tactile wayfinding cues. Owen Smith’s series of mosaic murals and relief sculptures use the theme of the four elements as they relate to vocations and are a direct homage to Glen Wessel’s historic W.P.A-style murals located in the original Laguna Honda building. Arlan Huang created hand-blown glass roundels, which are mounted on glass panels.  Huang’s work can also be seen in the connector building (between the Pavilion and the North Residence), where he fills four window frames with glass blocks into which he has inserted hand-blown glass “stones” that glow like jewels..

The Pavilion is the center of the new campus, connecting the historic building to the new South and North Residences, and it is also where many of the patient services are located. On the ground floor, Owen Smith created a series of WPA-style mosaic murals depicting the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, establishing a visual connection between the old and the new buildings. The aqua therapy center features two large tile walls designed by geometric abstract painter Cheonae Kim. Takenobu Igarashi covers two large walls in the dining and living rooms with sculpted terra cotta tiles.  In the third floor atrium of the Pavilion, Igarashi designed an abstract grouping of suspended sculptures that are inspired by the blossoms of flowers. Also on the third floor, Merle Axelrad Serlin celebrates the Bay Area’s dramatic vertical landscape with a series of three intricate fabric collages: Marin Headlands, Cliffs at Land’s End, and Bay Area Foothills. By observing residents at Laguna Honda using wheelchairs and handrails that line the hospital’s corridors, Cliff Garten created a public artwork in the form of a handrail. While meeting all codes and functional requirements, he transformed a ubiquitous handrail into a sensuous sculpture that addresses the space at a visual, tactile and psychological level. The entry gate, located on the façade of the building was designed by Diana Pumpelly Bates who drew inspiration for her design from the hospital’s natural setting.

Four artists were commissioned to design original sculptures as focal points for the formal outdoor courtyards. Suzanne Biaggi’s carved basalt columns of varying heights and widths are left natural except for their tops, which are highly polished to reflect the sun. Jonathan Bonner’s design consists of a circular grouping of five lathe-turned, elliptical granite forms with a smooth, honed finish. Re-connection/Re-cognition by Linea Glatt features ten unique button sculptures cast in four different pastel colors that function not only as a place to sit, but also as a kind of touchstone to something recognizable, familiar and comforting. The artist team LIVING LENSES, lead by Po Shu Wang, carved five interlocking arches out of salvaged redwood from an old bridge using a technique that has its origins in many ancient cultures.

Another key component of the public art program included an art project that responded directly to the hospital’s rich history. Using archival images and artifacts, artist Lewis deSoto designed 16 intricately-woven tapestries for the Esplanade that are an inviting and intimate exploration of significant eras and events that shaped the hospital and its community over time.  In addition, historic works at Laguna Honda that are in the city’s civic art collection received conservation treatment, including David Edstrom’s 1939 Florence Nightingale sculpture sited at the front of the historic building and Glen Wessels’ 1934 mural series, Fire, Earth, Water, Air and Professions, also located in the original hospital building.

About the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Public Art Program
The San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) is the city agency that champions the arts in San Francisco. We believe that a creative cultural environment is essential to the city’s well-being. Established by charter in 1932, SFAC programs integrate the arts into all aspects of city life. Programs include: Civic Art Collection, Civic Design Review, Community Arts & Education, Cultural Equity Grants, Public Art, SFAC Gallery, Street Artists Licensing, and the San Francisco Symphony Youth and Community Concert Series. The agency’s core values are committed to the principle that all residents have equal access to arts experiences in all disciplines, that programs are provided comprehensively and evenly throughout the city, and that they are innovative and of the highest quality.

Celebrating its 40th Anniversary, the Arts Commission’s public art program was established by the City Arts Enrichment Ordinance in 1969, as one of the first of its kind in the country. The public art program seeks to promote a diverse and stimulating cultural environment to enrich the lives of the city’s residents, visitors and employees. The program encourages the creative interaction of artists, designers, city staff, officials and community members during the design of city projects in order to develop public art that is specific to the site and meaningful to the community.

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San Francisco Arts Commission

401 Van Ness, Ste. 325
San Francisco, CA 94102

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