Public Art Proposal Display

Art Proposals for Gene Friend Recreation Center Public Art Project

The San Francisco Arts Commission is conducting a review process to choose an artist to create an integrated wall artwork for the interior north-facing wall of the gymnasium at the new Gene Friend Recreation Center at the corner of 6th and Folsom Streets. The artwork should illuminate the rich history and full diversity of San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood including recognition of SOMA Pilipinas, the Filipino Cultural Heritage District. The artwork should also lift up the Center as a destination and proud neighborhood asset. Three artists were chosen as finalists by a Public Art Review Panel to design site-specific proposals for this artwork opportunity: Adrian Arias, Cece Carpio, and ChiChai Mateo.

Gene Friend 康樂中心公共藝術專案的藝術提案

Panukala para sa likhang sining para sa Gene Friend Recreation Center Proyekto para sa Pampublikong Sining

Propuestas de Arte para el Centro de Recreación Gene Friend

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The Flight of the Ancestral Eagle

Adrian Arias

01 Adrian display board 2MB.jpgIn the heart of California's Ohlone territory, the Gene Friend Recreation Center hosts a vibrant public artwork on the wall of its multipurpose gym, a communal space where people come together to share interests and celebrate both cultural activities and sports events.

This artwork proposal pays homage to the essence of the Philippines and California's Ohlone land, celebrating the fusion of their flora, fauna, nature, colors, and elements. Through vivid patterns and representations of native plants and animals, this imagery serves as a symbol of cultural preservation and coexistence, weaving together the rich tapestry of both regions in a harmonious visual narrative.

As the great Philippine Eagle descends, the artwork transforms into a kaleidoscope of colors that fuse Philippine ornamental patterns with Ohlone iconography. The eagle's wings present designs inspired by native textiles, and serve as a visual representation of interconnected cultures. In Philippine textiles, diamond shapes (minatmatta) and zig-zags (tinitiko) symbolize movement and fluidity, resonating with similar narratives found in Central and South American textiles, as well as the zig-zags from Ohlone baskets.

During its flight, the eagle carries the Milkfish, a Philippine national fish. Alongside the fruits shared between Philippine and South and Central American cultures: Calamansi, Dragon fruit, and Balimbing (Carambola or Star Fruit). As the eagle traverses its journey, it encounters California's diverse flora and fauna, including the iconic California Poppy and Golden Trout. A river created with Ohlone designs connects the ocean to the eagle's body, emphasizing the vital role of nature in linking cultures.

The artwork culminates with the representation of the Sampaguita (Jazmin), the national flower of the Philippines, an ancient tribal sun of Filipino inspiration and the wing of the eagle transformed into a river. In the river we see the letter "ka" that means unity in Baybayin, which is the pre-colonial ancient writing script, which enriches the mural with cultural depth.

The Flight of the Ancestral Eagle stands as a testament to the profound interconnectedness of indigenous and immigrant cultures and the importance of nature, flora, and fauna within the diverse SOMA community. Serving as a focal point in the Center’s multipurpose gym, the artwork not only fosters unity but also becomes a symbolic reflection of the shared values and celebrations that define the community's gathering space.

View a larger image of the proposal. 

Barrio Fiesta

Cece Carpio

Digital File_Proposal Display_CCarpio-small.jpgBarrio Fiesta translates to a neighborhood celebration bringing communities together where everyone is welcome as guests and active participants. San Francisco’s SOMA district was one of my first stomping grounds after migrating to the United States at twelve years old. My experience of SOMA through the decades is remarkably similar to a Barrio Fiesta, allowing me to explore all aspects of convergence. Personally rooted in my culture and the Bay Area, I understand this design opportunity is part storytelling and part building décor- a signature amenity that puts Gene Friend Recreation Center and Barrio Fiesta on the map.

The proposal design intertwines historical, present-day, and futuristic figures to capture the vision and spirit of the SOMA neighborhood. It includes everyday people enacting evolved traditions and cultural practices celebrating the vibrancy of the SOMA district. It weaves together recognizable faces- well-known individuals suggested by Gene Friend stakeholders -along with representations of veterans, elders, youth, Indigenous migrants, community builders, and advocates to showcase the diversity and vitality of the SOMA community. Some of the portraits depicted will change based on interviews that will be conducted with SF SOMA Community members for a more in-depth community engagement process. Interviews and processes will be captured in video to be publicly accessed.

The artwork’s background colors, primarily magenta and ochre, are inspired by pre-colonial textiles from various regions in the Philippines. Motif designs within the end pillars that are also integrated throughout the layout are rendered patterns found in textiles and wood carvings. Due to the architectural size and design of the building, this artwork design intends to fully utilize all available space for maximum impact and visibility. A rendered Gene Friend building is inserted in the background to reflect and converge the lively activities that happen inside and outside of the center.

View a larger image of the proposal.

Our Barrio

ChiChai Mateo

Mateo-ChiChai_Gene Friend Center Proposal-FINAL.jpgOur Barrio demonstrates how the Gene Friend Recreation Center (GFRC) is a community anchor for SOMA Pilipinas—the Filipino Cultural Heritage District—and also for the various backgrounds of our neighbors here. In my artwork proposal it is my intention to reflect how GFRC is a safe haven for SOMA, especially for the district’s overlooked families. Black and Brown joy, dreams and aspirations gather here. That’s what Our Barrio is about.

Our Barrio strives to whimsically transport communities of SOMA into another world, a world that includes magical creatures for youth playing in the playground, sports stars of all abilities, a grand stage for all generations of musicians & dancers, and more.

Portraits celebrating sports, kultura, and play are found throughout the artwork. Collaged are a variety of cultural and geographically specific iconography; for example, native strawberries and poppies to represent the Ohlone land we occupy; common objects at Barrio Fiesta, such as a parol (the Filipino star lantern), bay leaves, and  banners.

Those who grew up going to GFRC will recognize a couple friends from the playground; illustrated versions of the fish and tiger sculptures are incorporated into the artwork design. Also, palm leaves are included as an additional nod to the Center’s original courtyard.

View a larger image of the proposal

Opportunity For Public Comment

Please take a few minutes to review these artwork proposals and provide feedback. The proposals are available online at in the Public Art Proposal Display section, where you can leave feedback in the public comment form. Comments may also be submitted via email to by Friday, March 1st at 5:00 p.m.

What's Coming Up

Public Meeting

Visual Arts Committee Meeting

April 17
3:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Hybrid: City Hall | Rm 416 and Online
Public Meeting

Executive Committee Meeting

December 18
1:00 PM to 2:30 PM

Hybrid: 401 Van Ness | Rm 125 and Online
Public Meeting

Community Investments Committee Meeting

December 09
1:00 PM to 3:00 PM

Hybrid: City Hall | Rm 416 and Online
Public Meeting

Full Arts Commission Meeting

May 06
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Hybrid: City Hall | Rm 416 and Online