San Francisco, CA— The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) have selected acclaimed artists Kenyatta A.C Hinkle and Phillip Hua to create artwork for the new Southeast Community Facility, the SFPUC’s community center in the Bayview neighborhood, which is slated to open in 2021.
“Our agency is excited to work with Kenyatta and Phillip—two extraordinarily talented artists who are committed to creating art for our community center that represents, inspires and empowers Bayview residents,” said SFPUC General Manager Harlan L. Kelly, Jr. “Their creativity and brilliance are a testament to the community-driven process used to commission these works.
“Kenyatta and Phillip’s designs for the Southeast Community Center responded to the community’s desire to see the Bayview’s distinct history represented in the public art,” said San Francisco Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny, “ They each bring a unique and poetic approach to their commissions—Kenyatta will incorporate community members’ memories and ephemera and Phillip will pay homage to the Center’s charismatic founders. When completed, future generations will be able to look at these artworks and connect with the people and places that shaped this beautiful neighborhood.”
As part of the agency’s mission to be inclusive of environmental and community interests, the SFPUC has committed to working with the San Francisco Arts Commission, local artists and residents to create public art that recognizes and celebrates the people, values, and history of the Bayview community, and inspires the appreciation and respect the environmental resources entrusted to our care. The selection of these artists represents those deep commitments.
“I am so excited to see all of the amazing art work and community spaces at 1550 Evans,” said District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton, “Capturing the culture of the community will make this anchor facility all the more inviting and relevant for the people who have fought hard to realize a state of the art community asset.”
Kenyatta A.C Hinkle is an interdisciplinary visual artist, writer, performer and an Assistant Professor of Painting at the University of California Berkeley’s Department of Art Practice. Her practice fluctuates between collaborations and participatory projects with alternative gallery spaces in various communities, to projects that are intimate and based upon her private experiences in relationship to historical events and contexts. A fascination with the “Historical Present” drives and inspires her practice—as she explores the residual impact of history on contemporary perspectives.
Hinkle will bring her collaborative approach to her proposed mural for the new Center. In 2019, she will embark on a year-long, socially-engaged artist residency during which she will conduct workshops where Bayview community members can share their history, images and materials, some of which will be incorporated into the final artwork. The resulting mural will be a digitally, collaged remix of the collaborations printed onto panels for presentation in the Alex Pitcher Room.
Water is a key element of this work. The SFPUC’s wastewater treatment plant is located in the community—which led to a mitigation agreement to create the community center and nearby greenhouses to ease its social and environmental impacts of the facility. Hinkle, who grew up in the West End of Louisville and had family members who lived close to a wastewater treatment plant, feels culturally connected to the Bayview’s history. Her use of water imagery also represents the African diaspora, various forms of immigration via water and the element’s power to heal and cleanse.
“When I learned about the Bayview community, I was inspired to collaborate and contribute to the history and make our shared stories visible through this work,” said Hinkle. “We are keepers of our history. We can’t move forward with the future if we haven’t reconciled with the residue of the past. That’s what I want my art to help do—recover, retrieve, unpack and elevate.”
In addition to collecting imagery and materials from the community, Hinkle will gather their wishes, hopes and aspirations. These sentiments will be incorporated into visuals depicting waves of water—with the mural acting as a wishing well and a testament to the thoughts of the community in the past, present and future.
Phillip Hua is a visual artist and adjunct faculty at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco where he teaches digital media. His work relies on technology and digital processes to examine the relationship between nature and commerce. Hua uses newspapers, photographs, construction paper, tape and other everyday materials, but exposure to light and the passage of time also play crucial roles in shaping his work.
Hua’s proposed public art project is a three-dimensional photocollage honoring “The Big Six,” longtime civil rights advocates in the Bayview and founders of the SFPUC’s community center: Alex Pitcher, Eloise Westbrook, Dr. Espanola Jackson, Harold Madison, Ethel Garlington and Shirley Jones. The mural, which will live in the center’s main lobby, will feature the founders in the foreground with their names, related newspaper articles, publication quotes and scenery of the Bayview around them.
“The Big Six were everyday heroes,” said Hua. “Despite financial and racial barriers, each, in their own way, made a positive impact on their community through activism and organizing. Outside of celebrating the founders in the work, I plan to continue their mission of social and economic development of the Bayview by procuring imagery from the founders’ families and working with residents and businesses for the development of this work.”
Hinkle and Hua were chosen through a selection panel process from a pool of 300 applicants in the Bayview Artist Registry. The SFPUC and SFAC partnered to create the registry, a Citywide pool for public art projects associated with construction in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood. The registry aligns with San Francisco’s 1969 Public Art Ordinance, which requires two percent of all eligible above ground city construction costs to support arts enrichment.
"I'm proud to have been a part of the art selection panel and even more proud that relatives of the Big Six and members of the Bayview community were present to share their feedback," said Tyra Fenell, CEO, Imprint City. "Kenyatta and Phillip will create artwork that introduces the public to the new community center in the way it deserves. I can't wait to see the final product."
The registry is open to artists living in the United States with a meaningful connection to the Bayview. Based on their media and experience, artists can be selected by a panel for art opportunities with budgets of up to $1 million. The application deadline is February 14, 2019.
To learn more about the Bayview Arts Registry, visit the SFAC’s Request for Qualifications webpage. To learn more about the SFPUC’s public art efforts, visit the agency’s art webpage.
After an extensive community engagement process, the Bayview Hunters Point community expressed a preference to build a new community center at 1550 Evans Street owned by the SFPUC. The new center will include a large, state-of-the-art special events space and multi-purpose space for meetings, events and recreation, such as dance classes, gatherings and day care services. The center will also provide a wide range of social services supporting workforce development and education for Southeast residents of all ages.