I love public art. Sculpture on the streets. Paintings on the buildings. Structure in a garden. Musicians on the corner.* It's unexpected - and accessible. To me, civic art demonstrates a sort of collective humanity and a certain freedom to . . . create. Art. For all of us!
One of the things I love most about San Francisco . . . is the city's embrace of public art. It's everywhere.
From the side of a shop in Chinatown. . .
to a restaurant entry in North Beach . . .
to a mural in the Haight Ashbury district . . .
there is something wonderful to look at; something that highlights the collective identity of the community.
Messages of social justice.
Fun "markers" of place and time.
San Francisco is certainly a city that embraces and supports civic art.
Most moving to me, though, was a public art installation that I - quite literally - stumbled upon! As we drove the streets of San Francisco . . . in city buses and taxis . . . I noticed a particular corner at the edge of Chinatown. What first caught my eye was laundry!
Every time we drove by, there was laundry hanging out the windows of the building. On hangers. Over the fire escape. Draped. And dangling in the breeze. Unusual. Unexpected. And beautiful - in an other-place kind of way. I was captivated by the laundry.
One day - on a long walk to Coit Tower from our hotel - we passed the "laundry corner" on foot. I zeroed in for some photographs. I was distracted, though, by a small group of Chinese musicians playing on the corner.
We stopped to listen for a moment.
And then I looked up.
There were hanging sculptures . . . kind of like birds in flight . . . hanging over the corner.
And then I looked down.
And noticed . . . words.
Words. Scattered all over the pavement.
English. Italian. Chinese. Backwards. Forwards. Grouped together. Single.
And then I put it together. The sculptures . . . the ones that looked like birds in flight . . . were actually BOOKS. Open books.
And the words on the sidewalk? They had fallen out of the books!
Right onto the pavement!
I wonder how many people walk the streets of San Francisco . . . and never look up. . . or never look down. . . to discover the power of . . .
Right there to discover!
I got so excited about the words on the sidewalk and the books in flight that I never actually took a photo of the books themselves. Click here to see images of the corner and the books. Click here to read more about the art installation itself -- "Language of the Birds" by Brian Goggin with Dorka Kheen.
* Except maybe for full drum sets. I think I'll draw the line at full drum sets. (Especially when they're directly under the window of my hotel.)