In the artwork “Valencia Street Post,” officially unveiled on Valencia Street Thursday, the word “post” is meant to be a pole, news or postmodernism.

Or it could just be a place to stick up missing cat fliers. San Francisco artist Michael Arcega, said he came up with the design after noticing how public spaces in the Mission such as storefronts and telephone poles become canvasses for community expression.

Arcega won the job of designing and building Valencia Street Posts after a highly competitive runoff with three other San Francisco artists. The decision was ultimately made by a panel composed of neighborhood representatives, arts professionals and a project architect from the Department of Public Works. Of the final four projects competing for the space, Arcega’s was chosen for aesthetics and ease of maintenance and repair. It was also the only finalist to offer physical engagement with the public.

The four ten-foot-high posts are crafted out of steel, aluminum and wood and painted with a durable urethane alkyd enamel. “Valencia Street Post” is inscribed with dimensional letters atop each ornamental crown. The crowns are intended to reference the Mission’s Victorian Revival period. Later this summer, DPW will add a decorative paving design based on Victorian wallpaper to the sidewalk surrounding the poles.

As the green ribbon surrounding it was cut, the post was already plastered with the usual aggregation of neighborhood fliers: a poster for the Mission Creek Music Festival, a sign offering the chance to “Bellydance Your Way to Fun and Fitness,” and another extolling the virtues of “Bikram Writing: 90 Minutes of Writing Calisthenics.” Engagement with the community has commenced.

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