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A Visual Celebration in San Francisco’s Changing Mid-Market Neighborhood

| June 27, 2014
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The 'Let There Be' art installation, near 6th and Market streets in San Francisco. (Cy Musiker/KQED)

The “Let There Be” art installation, near Sixth and Market streets in San Francisco. (Cy Musiker/KQED)

A new public art piece debuted Thursday evening on San Francisco’s Market Street. It’s called “Let There Be” and, for the moment at least, it features a series of photographs by Bay Area artists projected onto the east wall of the recently renovated home of Zendesk.

Ben Davis runs Illuminate the Arts, the nonprofit that raised funds for “The Bay Lights,” the Leo Villareal light sculpture on the western span of the Bay Bridge. He says he designed this new piece as a way to celebrate the neighborhood’s past, present and hoped-for future.

“I think it’s about letting the innate energy of Market Street reveal itself,” Davis said, “If you look at the rich history of the street, it has always performed a really important cultural and creative role in our community.”

I talked to Davis Wednesday night as we watched a test run of “Let There Be” from the offices of music-streaming service Spotify, just across Market Street.

Zendesk and Spotify, along with Twitter’s headquarters just up the street and a host of major new residential developments, are transforming a neighborhood that’s been an affordable haven for artists.

“It’s important to find a way to unleash that creativity, and put a marker down again.” Davis said. “At the same time respecting absolutely everyone who’s here. This is not about asking anyone to leave. This is about encouraging more people to come.”

Davis and his team raised $60,000 for “Let There Be” from what Davis calls anonymous donors. He says the project will open with contemporary and historical images of Market Street taken or collected by local photographer Mark Ellinger . They’ll be interspersed with images or videos by artists showing their work at neighborhood galleries, including SF Camerawork, the Luggage Gallery and the Yerba Buena Center For the Arts.

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About the Author ()

Cyrus Musiker is the Evening News Anchor at KQED Public Radio. But he also worked for a decade in the wine industry in Massachusetts, New York City, San Francisco, and Napa Valley. Cyrus sold wine retail and wholesale in New York, supplying Roederer Crystal and French Burgundies to celebrities in the Hamptons who didn’t appreciate how good they had it. He moved west in 1978, and worked as a cellar rat shoveling pomace, and pumping over for some of Napa’s best winemakers. He also did public relations and wine tours at Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville. Cyrus has traveled and tasted through Champagne, Burgundy, Beaujolais, and the Rhone Valley, and up, down, and sideways in California’s great wine regions. His one great regret in life is not buying land in Yountville when he lived there in the late 1970’s, when vineyards were “just $15,000/acre.” Cy’s most memorable wines—a 1904 Lafite Rothschild at a Heublein tasting in Boston in the late 70’s, a Nuits St. George “Les St. Georges” 1953 with Henri Gouges in his cellar in the Cotes De Nuits. Reach Cyrus Musiker at cmusiker@kqed.org.

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