Central Subway: Union Square/Market Street Station Proposals
UNION SQUARE/MARKET STREET STATION
On view at the Weinstein Gallery July 9 – July 16, 2010
Opportunity for Public Review and Comment
Arts Commission staff will be on site at the Weinstein Gallery to answer your questions about the Union Square/Market Street Station proposals on Monday July 12, from Noon to 2 p.m.
In conjunction with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s new Central Subway stretching from Chinatown to South of Market, the San Francisco Arts Commission’s Public Art Program is managing a diverse and exciting public art program that includes permanent artworks and related arts programming in adjacent neighborhoods. Scheduled to be completed in 2018, the Central Subway will include three subway stations located in Chinatown,
Union Square/Market Street, and Moscone. Following two national open calls for artists, nineteen recognized local and national artists and artist teams were recently selected by community-based artist selection panels to create proposals for two permanent art opportunities at each station: a “landmark artwork” and a “wayfinding artwork”.
The “landmark artwork” is defined as one large scale, vibrant and engaging artwork that will create a station identity and a landmark for the neighborhood. The “landmark artwork” will be sited in a prime location such as the station entryways or the large wall expanses on the concourse levels. The “wayfinding artwork” is a project that will extend through two or three of the station levels, providing a thread for pedestrians to follow through the station to help with navigation.
Last fall, a community-based Central Subway Union Square/Market Street Station Artist Selection Panel chose artists Brian Goggin, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov and Erwin Redl to develop public art proposals for the landmark artwork at the Union Square/Market Street Station. Michael Davis and Susan Schwartzenberg, Keith Godard, and Jim Campbell and Werner Klotz were selected for the wayfinding public art opportunity. The proposals presented in this exhibition are the finalists’ preliminary concepts. Selected proposals will be further developed and refined to meet all feasibility, maintenance, safety and other requirements, as needed. All final designs are subject to approval by the Arts Commission prior to implementation.
The final Central Subway Union Square Station Artist Selection Panel Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, July 21, 9 a.m. at the San Francisco Public Library Main Branch, Martin Paley Conference Room, 3rd Floor. This meeting is open to the public.
Comments may be emailed to email@example.com. Please note that comments by interested members of the public do not constitute a vote. Comments will be summarized and shared with the Artist Selection Panel prior to the final panel meeting.
Artist: Brian Goggin
Title: SiO2 (Alma’s Folly)
SiO2 (Alma’s Folly) is a site-specific sculpture that shelters the entrance to Union Square’s Central Subway station. The uppermost portion takes the form of the Silicon Dioxide molecule in an open matrix of steel bars, colored stainless steel orbs, and three streetlamp fixtures which all seem to rest on a frosted glass ceiling. The structure appears to be supported by inverted vintage streetlamp posts set at oblique angles as if they are in motion. Steel bands which echo the profile of the lampposts are set rhythmically in between, carving out an interior space. The lamps, separated from their poles, hang within the molecular matrix and illuminate at night, making the orbs shimmer. SiO2 features lampposts like those from around Union Square, putting this sculpture in perpetual dialogue with its site.
The translucent, scalloped panel ceiling that rests between the lamp posts and the molecular matrix filters in auras of light and color while protecting riders from the elements. The repeating narrow ribbons of steel at ground level form a secure enclosure from the ground to the ceiling, and will include a gate that can be locked at night. The visual rhythm of these wavy metal bands adds to the illusion of animation achieved by the “walking” posts. In addition to its fantastical structure, SiO2‘s contrast between materials – ornamental lamp posts, jewel-toned orbs, hand-formed steel, and translucent glass panels – makes SiO2 visually arresting and uniquely beautiful.
The sculpture is supported by a steel armature that is set into a recessed foundation and extends through all elements of the sculpture. The armature runs through the lamp post supports and becomes the metal framework that holds the scalloped panels of the ceiling, forming a visible rib-like structure that radiates off of a central spine. The armature continues to extend above the ceiling framework to become the molecular matrix that features the steel orbs, the elements in the molecule.
Union Square has been designated as a public space since at least 1839, when it was just a sand dune spotted with grass and chaparral. The Square’s former life as a dune is the inspiration behind SiO2 – Silicon Dioxide, or Silica, is found in nature as sand or quartz, is primarily used in the making of glass, and is the most abundant mineral in the Earth’s crust. The form of SiO2 – the molecular model of sand and glass – speak to the story of Union Square and that of natural San Francisco long before the Gold Rush.
The grand history of Paris Metro Station design contributed to the architectural nature of this subway sculpture, and the scalloped glass panel ceiling is an homage to that history. Furthermore, the translucent glass panes complement the imported Parisian infrastructure and architectural elements that are already in place in Union Square and elsewhere around the city.
Finally, SiO2 (Alma’s Folly) celebrates San Francisco’s great philanthropist and patroness of the arts, Alma de Bretteville Spreckels. Alma herself was born in the sand dunes of the Sunset District in 1881, and led an extraordinary life. Her contributions to the city were vast and varied, not the least of which was the gift of the Palace of the Legion of Honor. SiO2 celebrates Alma Spreckels in the tradition of the architectural folly: a fantastical structure built not for function, but for the imagination. Interestingly, young Alma was the model for the Dewey Monument, the current centerpiece of Union Square.
Materials and Maintenance
The artwork will be further developed as needed to meet all maintenance, safety, and durability requirements.
Artists: Ilya and Emilia Kabakov
Title: They Are Looking Down
Pedestrians traversing the long concourse in the Union Square/Market Street Station will be startled as they hurry across two mysterious white squares in the floor under their feet. A group of playful boys appear to be leaning over the edge of one of the squares looking up at the passengers with interest and amusement, as though from the other side of the world. What do they think of us? The other large white square depicts the children peering down into an empty square, seemingly transfixed on something far below that we cannot see. What are they looking at? The pedestrians experience being both outsiders, looking down into the white space over the heads of the children, and insiders, being looked at by the children as they hurry to their many destinations.
Artist: Erwin Redl
Title: Lucy in the Sky
The aim of my work is not to create a sculpture for people to look at, but an aesthetic environment the viewer finds worth exploring.
To achieve this goal, the installation Lucy in the Sky spans the entire ceiling of the Union Square / Market Street station main concourse.
My work will provide a moment of calmness within the intense, transitory commuter environment.
The ceiling’s long span is covered with hundreds of proprietary, translucent 10 x 10 inch “light pixels” aligned in a diamond grid. The distance between the light pixels is about six feet measured along the diagonal grid lines.
Each light pixel consists of a framed, clear, ½ inch acrylic panel. Each acrylic panel has an 8 by 8 grid of surface holes on both sides. The holes are lit up by RGB-LEDs embedded in the metal frame.
The individual light units are computer-controlled and display simple patterns and animations. A vexing scenario unfolds throughout the space’s volume while individual light pixels slowly change color in synch, rendering space a palpable experience. Individual pixels, transparent or lit up, aligned behind each other or seen individually, offer an ever-changing and dazzling spectacle for the viewers.
The title is derived from the Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” Excerpt of lyrics:
Picture yourself on a train in a station,
With plasticine porters with looking glass ties.
Suddenly someone is there at the turnstile,
The girl with kaleidoscope eyes.
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.
My work reflects upon the condition of art making after the “digital experience.” The formal and structural approach to various media I employ, such as installation, drawings, CD ROM, Internet and sound, engages in binary logic, because I assemble the material according to a narrow set of self-imposed rules which often incorporate complex algorithms, controlled randomness and other methods inspired by computer code.
Since 1997, I have investigated the process of “reverse engineering” by (re-)translating the abstract aesthetic language of virtual reality and 3D computer modeling back into an architectural environment by means of large scale light installations. In this body of work, space is experienced as a second skin, our social skin, which is transformed through my artistic intervention. Due to the very nature of its architectural dimension, participating by simply being “present” is an integral part of the installations. Visual perception works in conjunction with corporeal motion, and the subsequent passage of time.
The formal aspect of the works is easily accessible. An interpretation and understanding of this characteristic is dependent upon the viewer’s subjective references. Equally, the various individual’s interactions within the context of the installation re-shape each viewer’s subjective references and reveal a complex social phenomenon.
The medium of light refers directly to the aesthetic of virtual reality. The ephemeral nature of this particular medium is the ideal representation of the pure structural logic which underlies my work. At the same time, the active light in my installations transforms structural logic directly into an intense corporeal sensation without traditional media’s, e.g., painting and sculpture, detour through objecthood and reflected light.
Artists: Michael Davis and Susan Schwartzenberg
Title: Union Arcade
Union Arcade is an environment of light features, and pattern inlays traveling along the mezzanine and platform levels, designed to celebrate Union Square and its history. By their sequential features these artworks will draw people through the passageway and down to the platform, while suggesting the world above.
Union Square is a place of congregation, celebration, commerce and tourism. It is densely populated with locals and tourists, retailers and workers – a space that invites leisure and imagination and a place for urban contemplation. It holds a rich and symbolic history for San Francisco as an essential civic park, as well as a crossroads of public activity and private wandering. The connected features of the artwork claim a space for art, both to compliment the underground advertising, and by subtly connecting people to stories of Union Square.
Ten phantom chandeliers run the length of the corridor. These panoramic glass light features will be composed of images selected from local archives and personal collections. The imagery, chosen with community involvement and recommendation, celebrates human gatherings on Union Square through time. Potential events illuminated could be: 1861, when San Franciscans congregated to celebrate the California antislavery decision to support the Union Army during the Civil War – these repeated actions giving Union Square its name; temporary housing and relief services in the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake; celebrations of D-Day in 1944 and other public gatherings, festivals, holiday events, and fairs that are the trademark of this urban park.
Ten niche installations hold an illuminated object. The objects are rendered in a reflective material such as metal, porcelain, or terracotta and selected from artifacts with local retailers. Each object is remade as an icon and conceptually drawn from the event depicted on each chandelier. Each object embodies human endeavor in the way it was made and/or how it becomes a symbol of desire. A simple light line is suspended down the wall to the niche, the sequential components creating a system of light features tying the elements together and creating a rhythm along the passageway. Potential artifacts include: a Civil War sword or surgical instrument created by Tiffany’s; a riveted pocket by Levi Strauss for miners and workers in 1849; a pipe handle crafted in China and imported by Gumps; a rouge tin handcrafted for the City of Paris. Simple inscriptions would convey the story embedded in each object.
Floor pattern areas of inlay of bronze or terrazzo create a band or soft motif across the floor, marking the light artworks and reinforcing the rhythm of features and ideas that mark the station. Each motif is drawn from the image depicted.
We wish to create an environment where art can distinguish the unique character of Union Square both as an historical location and one that continues to evolve as a lively piece of San Francisco’s unique character. By combining “phantom” images and artifacts of collective celebration and retail, we connect the public and private spaces of urban life. For it is indeed in these market spaces where rich and poor, tourist and worker, people of many ages, places and cultural backgrounds are drawn together in collective urban life.
We suggest working closely with the architectural team on elements’ station design that would work in conjunction with the artworks such as flooring, wall treatment, lighting and placement. Our intent is to connect all levels from platform to plaza in a cohesive design continuum. We would also like to work closely with the community of Union Square for the selection of images and objects that would compose the artwork’s content.
Artist: Keith Godard
Title: Passing Time
This idea is inspired by the history of Union Square and its development from a rural environment in 1776 through its evolution from a residential area into a retail business district and a modern urban setting. I imagine a passenger entering the concourse and descending to the platform,
beginning his/her journey guided by a series of plaques representing either vertical or lateral “portholes in time” covering certain years from over three centuries. The pieces would be smooth non-slip flat embedded into the station floors. A consideration for the wall installations could be rendered in low relief.
As the traveler walks through the station’s concourse, the plaques progress from past to present until the viewer arrives at their destination of
Union Square. In the reverse direction, the visual process begins in the modern era so the commuter metaphorically walks back in time toward Market Street.
I will consult with authors Sally Woodbridge and David Rumsey and also utilize the resources of the Public Library for reference material in the development of the idea. However, my concept will rely on an imaginative visual interpretation of “time travel” through this renowned downtown area of San Francisco.
The plaques could be fabricated in materials appropriate to their historic periods, such as mosaic (used by Spanish colonialists) progressing with the technologies of the times and translated in slate, marble, cast and laser cut metals, and glass with some combined with the terrazzo technique.
In search of the right solution, I am exploring informative imagery not tied to fads and/or styles of the moment. I seek to offer the traveler on their journey an enhanced visual and learning experience that describes the growth and expansion of the environs of Union Square.
Artists: Jim Campbell and Werner Klotz
Title: Reflected Loop
Reflected Loop is a site-specific installation that circumscribes the entire concourse and platform levels above the pedestrian walkways, creating a unifying circuit of light and ambient reflections throughout the station. The band winds its way down one escalator shaft, spans the entire platform level, winds its way back up through the opposing escalator shaft, and then runs the entire concourse level to reconnect with itself. The installation is a loop that has no beginning or end.
Detailed Physical Description:
The overall structure of the artwork is made up of highly polished stainless steel discs supported from above by thin steel rods. The area created by the discs is a virtual surface as the discs are not attached to each other. By modulating the height of each individual disc a terrain in the surface is created. This terrain contains both text and low resolution image reliefs. The mirror-like stainless steel relief reflects both the pedestrians and the architecture of the station. This reflection process magnifies the visibility of the relief since discs at different heights reflect their surroundings differently.
The band of reflection varies as it progresses through the station. The width of the band varies from one foot to six feet and the height of the band also varies from eleven feet to fifteen feet. The size of the discs vary also, such that at times the surface feels solid (3” diameter discs with 3” spacing) and other times the discs disappear almost completely (1/2” diameter discs with 3” spacing) leaving just the volume of the supporting rods. The rods that support the discs are painted different colors based on their height, such that the relief is felt through the entire volume. This is particularly intriguing from the perspective of coming down the escalator, where the volume created by the suspension rods is seen from the sides and the negative space of the discs is seen from above. In this case, from the escalator, the terrain is felt more as a volume than as a surface.