San Francisco Arts Commission Public Art Projects Recognized as Best in USA


Photo by Bruce Damonte.

Memorial to Fallen Police Officers and Glass Mural at SFO were Honored Today by Public Art Network Year in Review

SAN FRANCISCO, June 17, 2016—Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education, honors 38 outstanding public arts projects created in 2015 through the Public Art Network (PAN) Year in Review program, the only national program that specifically recognizes the most compelling public art. Spiral of Gratitude, a memorial to fallen police officers created by Shimon Attie, with Vale Bruck, located at the new Public Safety Building and Voyage, a glass mural by local artist Val Britton, were chosen from 260 entries across the country and recognized today at Americans for the Arts’ 2016 Annual Convention in Boston.

“We are lucky to live in a city that invests in beautifying its urban environment through a robust percent-for-art program,” said Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny. “This honor is a testament to our commitment to excellence and making world-class art a part of the fabric of our City. I hope that this award inspires the public to seek out these projects and other public artworks, which are located throughout the city—from the airport to the zoo.”

Spiral of Gratitude announces itself from a distance with its dramatic glass cylinder anchored by bold text embedded into the rear concrete wall that reads “Look Up, Their Courage Shines”. The phrase, which contextualizes and frames the memorial, leads the viewer’s gaze up through the open cylinder that culminates in a circular skylight. The ever shifting play of light and shadow falling through the oculus causes the Spiral of Gratitude and the lobby environment to change throughout the day. The poem was written specifically for the memorial by Margo Perin based on interviews with families and colleagues of fallen officers, and in collaboration with Attie and members of the Bay Area Law Enforcements Assistance Fund. The poem encircles the cylinder as it recedes towards the sky implying infinity.

Voyage by Val Britton. Photo by Ethan Kaplan.

Britton’s large-scale laminated glass mural for the pre-security area of the Control Tower between Terminals 1 and 2 draws upon the language of maps to evoke physical and psychological spaces. Voyage depicts an imaginary panoramic space in continuous flux. The drawn and painted abstractions make physical locations visible while giving the viewer the opportunity to shape their own psychological and emotional connections to constitute place. In preparation for the commission, Britton poured over San Francisco International Airport ephemera (maps, plans, weather patterns and flight routes). According to the artist, “The San Francisco International Airport is a site that resonates with the themes of my work, being a hub for travel and exchange…My approach has been to research the site—its history, the diverse population that travels through it, weather patterns—and to synthesize the research visually, extracting elements and symbols in order to create the piece.”

“These Public Art Network Year in Review selections illustrate that public art has the power to enhance our lives on a scale that little else can. Whether subtly beautiful or vibrantly jolting, a public art work has the singular ability to make citizens going about everyday business stop, think, and through the power of art appreciate a moment, no matter how brief,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “I congratulate the artists and commissioning groups for these community treasures, and I look forward to honoring more great works in the years to come.”

The 2016 PAN Year in Review jurors were Lucas Antony Cowan, Public Art Curator of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy in Boston; Constance Y. White, Lead Creative of SLDcreative in Dallas, Texas; and Franka Diehnelt, Co-owner of merge conceptual design in Santa Monica, California.

The 38 public art works selected for the PAN Year in Review can be seen on this page. The presentation, which includes photos and descriptions of these works, are available for purchase through Americans for the Arts’ store.

The Public Art Network (PAN), a program of Americans for the Arts, is designed to provide services to the diverse field of public art and to develop strategies and tools to improve communities through public art. The network’s constituents are public art professionals, visual artists, design professionals, and communities and organizations planning public art projects and programs.

The San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC), the $24 million City agency that champions the arts as essential to daily life by investing in a vibrant arts sector, enlivening the urban environment and shaping innovative cultural policy. Established by San Francisco’s City Charter in 1932, the SFAC is charged with overseeing the design quality of all new public infrastructure, stewarding the Cultural Equity and Cultural Center Endowments (totaling over $6 million in annual grant investments) and implementing San Francisco’s ‘2% for Art’ public art ordinance. Additionally, the SFAC manages San Francisco’s street artist licensing program as well as oversees the capital management of four city-owned cultural centers, three public exhibition spaces and San Francisco’s Civic Art Collection, which includes over 3,500 objects worth an estimated $90 million.

Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America. With offices in Washington, D.C., and New York City, it has a record of more than 50 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at

San Francisco Arts Commission

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

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