The True “Early Days”: Native Americans Share Their History Through Art


(Image via ABC7 News)

While the “Early Days” statue was removed in 2018, the hole in the ground has left more than just a physical space — it’s left an opening for the true history of the Native American experience in the Bay Area to be shared by those who should have been the only ones to tell their story in the first place: Native Americans.

To draw attention to the true history, mark the 50th year anniversary of the occupation of Alcatraz, and emphasize accurate artistic representation of Native Americans, the San Francisco Arts Commission has developed the American Indian Initiative, which will consist of various art installations, films, festivals and talks over the course of 2019, the first of which occurred in early April in preparation for public events.

Over two days, SFAC notes, “renowned photographer, Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie (Seminole-Muscogee-Navajo) photograph[ed] approximately 150 Native American community members in curated groupings of 3-5 individuals consisting of Native American leaders, professionals, and youth on top of the empty plinth where the Early Days statue stood for over one hundred years.” (ABC7 News filmed the photoshoot, and you can see more from that day on their site.)

Later this year, these images will be projected onto various Civic Center buildings during the Indigenous Peoples’ Day Celebration and at other locations during the seven weeks of artistic activation by Native American artists following  Indigenous Peoples’ Day at the Fulton Mall/plinth. We’ll be sure to share more on these events as they draw closer.

Lest We Forget: A Holocaust Memorial Exhibition

Image / Illustration from Luigi Toscano

This May marks 74 years since the end of the Holocaust, and to remind those of its horrors — and its survivors — Lest We Forget, an installation by German artist Luigi Toscano, will line Civic Center Plaza from April 17 through May 19.

Comprised of 68 portraits of Holocaust survivors, including both local survivors, and those from across the United States, Germany, Israel, Russia and Ukraine; the “portraits are meant to provide voice and visibility to these survivors,” according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Each portrait stands over seven feet tall, and will line the plaza in such a way that allows for visitors to walk among them.

Image courtesy of artist

Presented by the Goethe-Institute San Francisco and the German Consulate in partnership with the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department and San Francisco Arts Commission, the installation has previously been installed at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC and the UN Headquarters in New York City.

The installation opens April 17 and runs through May 19, which ends with a closing ceremony.

The 168th St. Patrick’s Day Parade: The Largest Celebration on the West Coast

Via UISSF

This year’s 168th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade is “the West Coast’s largest Irish event celebrating Irish history and culture,” according to event organizers the United Irish Societies of San Francisco. The parade, with this year’s theme of “women breaking barriers,” begins at 11:30am on Market at 2nd Street and ends in a sea of green at Civic Center Commons. The annual event brings together San Francisco’s diverse community to learn more about and celebrate Irish history and culture.

Learn more about the event here, and with over 5,000 participants, please consider taking public transportation to the Commons.

New Art in the Commons: The Giving Wall, Bill Graham Light Art & More

Civic Center Commons is a world class backdrop for insightful and inspiring public art — and this spring brings pieces from acclaimed local and international artists.

Bill Graham Civic Auditorium Exterior Light Art: Conceptual artist Joseph Kosuth’s latest piece is illuminating the western side of the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (BGCA) on Polk at Hayes. His works involve large-scale neon light installations on the exterior of buildings and employ a broad pallet of languages and typefaces. Kosuth’s new work at BGCA was selected by the San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) in 2015, the first public art project to be funded through the auspices of the Public Art Trust with a contribution made by The Emerald Fund. The Lighting and Dedication Ceremony is March 13, 6pm.

Courtesy of artist

Lest We Forget: An installation by German artist Luigi Toscano, 68 portraits of Holocaust survivors will line Civic Center Plaza from April 17 through May 19. Featuring both local and international survivors, the acclaimed installation is coming to the City by the Mayor’s Office of Protocol and is fully sponsored with private funds from the German Consulate and the Goethe Institute. The installation has previously been on display at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC and the UN Headquarters in New York City.

Come see The Giving Wall be installed at the village artist corner!

The Giving Wall UPDATE: Unfortunately this has been cancelled, but please check the Village Artist Corner Facebook page for more about forthcoming installations.

And that’s just the beginning! Check back for more great events happening soon!

February is for Lovers — of movement, food & shopping

UPDATE: The 2/14 class has been canceled due to weather. Please join us 2/21!

Original post: Starting Valentine’s Day, LINES Dance Center will host dance and movement classes in UN Plaza every Thursday at 12:30pm. Running for 12 weeks, these free, outdoor classes — weather permitting — are for everyone, novice and professional alike! With fun beats and talented instructors, these energizing dance fitness classes will help slough off the mid-day slump and re-energize the rest of the afternoon. Additionally, once a month following these half-hour classes, Alonzo King LINES Ballet Training Program Students will take to the “stage” of UN Plaza and perform.

Also happening on Thursdays is the continuation of the gathering of Off the Grid food trucks from 11am to 2pm — grab a bite before or after dance class. And stroll through the ongoing UN Plaza Gift Gallery (9am-5pm); find something for your Valentine — or something for yourself!

Follow Civic Center Commons on Twitter and Facebook for more details!

Night of Ideas: Inspiring Ideas on the Future of Cities

Can our cities be locally productive and globally connected? Smart, resilient and infused with poetry and empathy? Is an innovating and inclusive city possible?

Featuring community leaders in various fields — food, technology, politics, architecture and more — Night of Ideas is a seven hour event bringing together diverse experts and the public to hypothesize what it’ll take to get to an ideal urban future.

Not just San Francisco-centered, Night of Ideas is taking place in five other cities as well, each reimagining not just how their respected cities will, and can evolve, but all cities. Night of Ideas will culminate at the San Francisco event: Saturday, February 2, 7pm to 2am.

Hosted at the San Francisco Public Library — and inspired by their Public Knowledge and After Tomorrow program — with the French Consulate and SFMOMA, the night will be anything but a snooze; programming and panels will feature not only those adept in their fields, but performances, food, drinks, music, art and yoga!

Civic Center Commons will moderate a panel at 9pm on February 2, focused on the concept of the “Welcoming City” – panelists will discuss how inclusive public spaces can serve as a model for creating a more holistically welcoming city.

Help envision the city of the future and sign up for free tickets on the Night of Ideas Eventbrite page!

Top image: © Elizabeth Leitzell (Courtesy of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and Brooklyn Public Library)

Yoshitomo Nara’s “Your Dog” Sculpture Debuts at Asian Art Museum

The Asian Art Museum has debuted its latest outdoor sculpture on its Larkin street steps: Yoshitomo Nara’s  Your Dog The large, white puppy — installed during the Year of the Dog — greets museum goers, Civic Center Commons visitors, and those who live and work in the neighborhood with its whimsical and cartoon-like qualities. Installed at the top of the Larkin Street stairs, the museum encourages visitors to take a picture of Your Dog with your dog and use the hashtag #Naradog.

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