藝術展華埠: Chinatown’s Public Art
藝術展華埠: Chinatown’s Public Art was on view at 41 Ross from August 9 - 26, 2018. This exhibit featured the ways that art has defined and beautified the Chinatown neighborhood -- from the colorful murals, to pagoda-styled architecture, to the everyday practices of tai chi and Cantonese opera performed on the streets and parks. The gallery also became a studio for a new mosaic mural in progress, created by the youth of Chinatown Community Development Center working with visual artist Margarita Soyfertis. Chinatown’s Public Art explored how artists and community members enhance the neighborhood through creative expressions, often incorporating community history and cultural traditions, so that people view the neighborhood in new and memorable ways.
Along Broadway Street between Broadway Tunnel and Columbus
Artist Michael Arcega designed these colorful benches based on cloud designs that appear in Chinese paintings.
Blooming on Fragrance Alley
Hang An Alley, between Stockton and Grant
Artist Margarita Soyfertis and youth from Chinatown CDC’s Adopt An Alleyway Project and Youth for SRO created three-dimension perspectives of scenes of Chinese stories and traditions viewed through the artwork’s window and moon gate openings.
17 Wentworth Alley
Created by Kayan Cheung-Miaw 張嘉欣 and students from Mandarin Institute and STARTALK, Home depicts Chinatown’s daily life in multiple dimensions: love, survival, resistance, and solidarity. The clotheslines recalls the Yick Wo supreme court case where Chinese-run laundries challenged equal protections and present-day tenants fined or evicted for hanging laundry. Another Wentworth mural painted by Mandarin Institute students was inspired by Wentworth’s nickname “Salted Fish Alley” for the fish sold in the alley’s stores.
870 Kearny Street
Designed by Johanna Poethig in 2010, the mural commemorates the history of the International Hotel’s decades-long struggle for low income housing at this site. The mural depicts poet and activist Al Robles the words of, activists for fair housing Etta Moon and Bill Sorro, I-Hotel residents Wahat Tompao and Luisa de la Cruz, and I-Hotel manongs (elders) and children.
Wentworth Alley between Kearny and Grant
Artists Xu Tan and Justin Hoover worked with Chinatown Community Development Center youth during 2013-14 to collect “keywords” from daily life in the neighborhood. Inspired by the story of “Borrowing Arrows with Boats” in the Chinese classical novel “The Three Kingdoms,” this mural depicts the keywords that follow a trajectory of arrows, and turn into roses flowing to a boat, resembling an Asian fishing junk.
Language of Birds
606 Broadway, Plaza at Broadway and Columbus Avenue
Created by Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn in 2008, Language of the Birds honors the English, Chinese and Italian literary traditions of Chinatown and North Beach. The artists teamed with scientist David Shearer and Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Bookstore so that the books are lit through solar power.
Outside 41 Ross Alley at night
Artist Summer Lee created this projection of the Pacific Ocean glistening in the heart of Chinatown where Chinese immigrants live. These immigrants crossed into the profound uncertainty of a life in the US and the ocean is in some way symbolic of a liminal space for those of us immigrants and descendants who live in the tidal waters of identity and culture.
Ping Yuen Mural
Stockton Street between Pacific and Jackson
Painted by Darryl Mar in 1999, this mural portrays the vibrant Chinatown community. Community members help identify and illustrate the contributions, aspirations and past memories of the community.
740 Kearny, on the steps of the Chinese Culture Center at the base of Hilton Hotel
Artist Mik Gaspay’s mosaic mural Sunrise evokes the sun rising over the bay at the spot that used to be on the water when Portsmouth Square was on the edge of the bay.
Wah Ying Social Club Building
724 Commercial Alley
Tanja Geis’s mural draws on the style of Chinese blue and white export porcelain and chinoiserie painted wallpapers. The mural depicts native and non-native flora and a golden eagle symbolizing the Wah Ying Social Club founded in 1935. Cultural institutions like the Wah Ying Social Club provide support for its members and the wider San Francisco Chinatown community.
About the exhibit
Artist Margarita Soyfertis utilizes mosaics as a medium, bringing bright colors and vibrancy to three-dimensional spaces, alleys, and sculptures. CCDC’s youth worked with Soyfertis to conceptualize "Boat Race around the Moonshine," inspired by an ancient Chinese legend, where according to tradition, teams compete against each other and nature to race dragon-shaped boats. Through this mural, the youth wanted to convey that through admirable effort, ancient wisdom, and skills, one can break through the old walls to new, unknown, and hopefully, beautiful adventures beyond the moon.
Margarita Soyfertis enjoys working with the community for this art project. She says, “People stop by to look at the process and admire the mosaics. They see the youth group wonderfully being a youth: laughing, talking, and listening to loud music, but determined to work. Such motivation makes a big load of creating a mural much easier and faster. I really appreciate support and encouragement by the community.”
The exhibition also features other recent commissions in Chinatown by the Chinese Culture Center, San Francisco Arts Commission, and Mandarin Institute.
Home, a new mural just completed by artist Kayan Cheung-Miaw 張嘉欣 and students from Mandarin Institute and STARTALK. The mural depicts Chinatown’s daily life in multiple dimensions: love, survival, resistance, and solidarity. The clotheslines recalls the Yick Wo supreme court case where Chinese-run laundries challenged equal protections and present-day tenants fined or evicted for hanging laundry. Another Wentworth mural painted by Mandarin Institute students was inspired by Wentworth’s nickname “Salted Fish Alley” for the fish sold in the alley’s stores.
Auspicious Clouds, commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission. Artist Michael Arcega designed these colorful benches based on cloud designs that appear in Chinese paintings. The benches are installed along Broadway Street between Broadway Tunnel and Columbus.
Liminal Space/Crossing, commissioned by the Chinese Culture Center. Artist Summer Lee created this projection of the Pacific Ocean, evoking the journey of past and current Chinese immigrants when coming to the United States. The lighted project can be viewed outside 41 Ross when dark at night.
Sunrise, commissioned by the Chinese Culture Center. Artist Mik Gaspay’s mosaic mural Sunrise evokes the sun rising over the bay at the spot that used to be on the water when Portsmouth Square was on the edge of the bay. The mural is outside the entrance of Chinese Culture Center at 750 Kearny.
Untitled, (Wah Ying Social Club Building), commissioned by the Chinese Culture Center. Artist Tanja Geis’s 無題 mural draws on the style of Chinese blue and white export porcelain and chinoiserie painted wallpapers and depicts native and non-native flora. The mural is located on the Wah Ying Social Club Building on Commercial Alley between Kearny and Grant.
In addition, the exhibit looks at the architecture in the neighborhood, the informal performances that take place in Chinatown’s alleys and parks, and the future public art projects. Chinatown’s new Central Subway Station will have artwork created by Yumei Ho, Tomie Arai, and Claire Rojas commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission as well as a Chinese couplet by Carin Mui and rendered by calligrapher Terry Luk.
The exhibit aims to present Chinatown’s history of arts and culture as an asset to the community's cultural identity. Often incorporating community history with deep-rooted cultural traditions, artists range from Chinese immigrants who trained with masters and learned their craft in China to American Born Chinese and people from other backgrounds who bring their talents to the area. This art in Chinatown’s public spaces contributes to the quality of life amongst residents, and empowering community members to express themselves.
The 41 Ross gallery is generously supported by The Kresge Foundation.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Margarita Soyfertis (Mosaic Artist): Margarita Soyfertis creates mosaics combining ancient art forms and latest green technologies as sculptural forms. She received traditional art training in Kiev, Ukraine and have been working in mosaic and sculpture art for the last 14 years, and teaching art for 30 years. Since 2004 she participated in public art competitions and successfully installed several projects in public places around the bay area the country. She has created three small sculptures titled Hearts for Zuckerberg Hospital Foundation; a mosaic fountain at Shannon Community Center, Dublin, CA; and a public art project for the San Bruno Centennial at the San Bruno CalTrain Station for the City of San Bruno, CA. She has created group mosaics for the HR department at Google, Mountain View; Genentech, South San Francisco; Cooley's Law offices, Palo Alto; and Glynn Capital, Menlo Park, CA. Soyfertis has designed and facilitated student participation of mosaics at a number of Bay Area schools.
English and Chinese