Wednesday, May 29, 2013

SFMOMA kicks off renovations with a 4-day party.

Today, or Wednesday, May 28, 2013 at 11:02 a.m. to be exact, various San Francisco dignitaries were joined by the pupils of Bessie Carmichael School to officially kick off SFMOMA's upcoming two and-a-half years of renovations. They counted down, pushed the lever and flooded the temporary media space with glittering confetti. The glitter certainly reflects the upcoming 4-day long party, which began today with free admission until the museum closes on June 2.

SFMOMA has planned something for everyone. Visitors will have the opportunity to party on the rooftop with cocktails and live music; stay up all night in the galleries and catch performances by 48 artists in a 24-hour variety show marathon. Or they can explore SFMOMA’s landmark photography exhibition Garry Winogrand and line up to catch Christian Marclay’s 24-hour video movie "The Clock."

Museum staff and docents in the galleries will be on hand to talk about their favorite artworks. Visitors can get to know Bay Area makers and artists featured in a special live-format edition of KQED Public Radio’s popular series "The Making Of…" by the award-winning Kitchen Sisters and see a large-scale model of SFMOMA’s new building. There will be a special family day on June 2 and reservations are recommended for that as the museum anticipates a record turn out.

"SFMOMA is more than just a building," says SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra. "We're a set of intersecting cultural communities." He also announced a generous gift to the youth of the city, a 10 million dollar endowment that will allow free admission to visitors under the age of 18.

The new space, designed Oslo-NYC firm Snøhetta, will include 225,000 square feet of gallery space at estimated cost of $610 million. 41,000 square feet of free-access public space has been promised, in addition to a new seventh floor outdoor terrace and massive vertical gardens.

While SFMOMA will be closed until 2016, they haven't gone away. SFMOMA also will be well represented around other venues in the Bay Area. Even before the museum closed, it presided over the May 22 opening of the yearlong outdoor exhibition "Mark di Suvero at Crissy Field," an array of eight monumental pieces that celebrates the influential sculptor's 80th birthday.

On June 28, SFMOMA and the Contemporary Jewish Museum will open "Beyond Belief," the first of many collaborative exhibits with participating museums around the Bay Area. A team of resident and guest curators has chosen 60 works from SFMOMA's collection, dated 1911 through 2011, to evoke shifting relations between art and spirituality in the high modernist period and beyond. The show will be anchored by a great late abstraction by Mark Rothko (1903-70) but "Beyond Belief" will also bring back to light several things in various media not on public view for many years.

In addition, collaborations with SFMOMA will take form this year and next as exhibitions at local institutions including Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the Oakland Museum of California, and regional museums in Oakland, Sonoma, Sacramento, Bakersfield and Riverside.

Still, as the dignitaries pontificated from the podium, congratulating themselves on how SFMOMA anchored the changes for the south of Market Street area, I couldn't help but reflect on the cost of those changes. Thousands of units of low-and-middle income housing torn down and not replaced, thousands of low-to-middle income people pushed out of the city or worse, onto the streets because there was no place for them to go. The working class base of the city is gone, probably forever. The current housing crisis can be traced to the huge redevelopment projects which bulldozed huge portions of the city and put up expensive high rise condos, pricing out most of those who used to live in those areas.

The construction site revealed the advertising on the side of an old brick building, revealing one of the many businesses that used to be here. South of Market was where hundreds of businesses were located, like Hills Bros Coffee, the flag makers noted on the side of the business above, other factories with a union work force, allowing the city to be affordable and politically progressive.

Tourism is a 2 billion dollar business but it does not give the city or the working class families who used to live and work here the solid base to build a future. The money stays at the top. What future will the Black and Latino kids from Bessie Carmichael School have in the SF of the future? Unless things change drastically, not much. Free admission for kids under 18 is not much of a consolation prize.


Christine said...

Nancy, just read your comment on "Time Goes By." Your post about the elderly and rent in the bay area is right on. I reside on the peninsula and have been searching for alternate places to rent upon selling my condo. No way can I remain in this area.

The bay area needs decent, safe, and affordable "senior housing. Currently the city of San Mateo is occupied building a huge Target and an upscale movie theater both of which this city does NOT need. You are fortunate to have family to return to. All my family is in the deep south and I don't want to live there.

I'll definitely visit the "Impressionists on Water" exhibt. Thanks for the tip.

nancy namaste said...

Thanks for commenting and thanks for your insightful comment. I posted a similar comment about the lack of affordable housing on another website and was told to stop my whining and get out of town. SF doesn't need people like me. Well, SF needed me when I worked the front desk in ER at UCSF and it needs hundreds of people like me to keep the city running. But with attitudes like the one from the rude commenter on another blog and the actions of those who run our city, the next generation of not highly paid but necessary workers will have to live in Truckee and commute - if they are willing to do so. I fully understand your reluctance to move to the South. It seems to me that the racism and bigotry have gotten worse, not better and as for the weather -- I lived in Florida. You can have it. Good luck on your search for decent, affordable housing. I can't imagine how this is all going to end but I suspect that it won't be that good for people like us.