The four finalists for the public art project for the Valencia Improvement Streetscape project went up Friday afternoon at the Mission Cultural Center and will be on view for the public to see and comment on until September 14.

The winning design for the $52,000 commission will be installed along Valencia Street between 15th and 19th streets, as part of a greater initiative by the Department of Public Works to improve the street.

First up in alphabetical order is Michael Arcega, the only non-Mission resident. His proposed work titled Valencia Street Post is six street posts designed to look like they’re from another San Francisco era.  Each has a different Victorian-inspired crown.

And in a convergence of art, commerce and usefulness, residents would be able to use the posts, made of wood and plastic, to advertise and post notices.

The posts’ muted colors add a touch of elegance. The second part of his proposal is the “bike oases” that are Victorian designs sandblasted into the sidewalks.  The posts would sit at the center of the sidewalk designs.

Similarly, Ana Teresa Fernandez’s concept reflects on the history of The Mission.  In this case the Lagoon of Sorrows, which existed during the Ohlone era. Casting Shadows is a singular piece of reflective stainless steel designed into a curved interlaced fishing net. It would be suspended in the air by four 8 feet high poles to make the net look like its being cast up to catch fish.  The artwork will take up around five feet of ground space.

Brian Goggin, perhaps the most recognizable artist of the four because he has several public art works sprinkled throughout San Francisco, offered Faro. It’s a sculptural pole, peaking like a “blade of grass” to light the street at night.  At the top of the pole is a colorful sculpture in the form of a boat’s bulkhead made of latticed, recycled bike frames.  Inside, bike lights will become a “jewel like” cluster.  Solar powered, at night the wind will help them flicker blue, green and yellow on the street.

While Arcega, Fernandez and Goggin incorporate the past in their pieces, Japanese artist Misako Inaoka’s proposal is about evolution.  She offers a series marking the ever-evolving Mission neighborhood through hybrid imaginative animal sculptures.

It’s all about adapting to exist and live in the Mission Inaoka writes in her proposal.  Made out of resin and concrete, the animals will be mutated creatures that have incorporated common Mission objects to become a species of their own– bikes, antennas, and surveillance cameras.

Imagine a life-sized squirrel with bicycle wheels instead legs.  The Mission mutants would be placed on light poles and three new “Art-element poles” between 16th and 17th.  Inaoka wants the animals to blend into the natural streetscape while enhancing the residents’ curiosity and eye for art.

There is a certain whimsy to all four projects, yet all four are completely different and innovative. It’s like the final episodes of Top Model, all four are great but who will be chosen to be Valencia’s Next Top Artist?

The proposals are open to the public for viewing and written comment from now until September 14th.  They’re on display in the lobby of the Mission Cultural Center, 2868 Mission St.  All written public comments, which can also be emailed to, will be viewed by the Selection Panel before the final meeting, on September 16 at 9am.  There the panel will make its recommendation to the Arts Commission for final approval.

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Brooke Minters was born and raised in Los Angeles, where she developed a taste for culture and cuisine at an early age. A taquería connoisseur and documentary maker, she's eaten her way through most of L.A., Granada, Havana, and New York. It's only fitting that she finds herself on the food beat in the Mission.

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