Local Artists Present Alternatives to BART’s 24th St. Plaza Remodel

BART’s 24th Street Plaza. Photo by Marta Franco.

En Español.

When BART officials announced last fall that they had chosen three artists from outside the Mission as finalists in the remodeling of the 24th Street BART station, residents weren’t pleased. Now the Calle 24 Art for BART Committee is pushing back with its own proposal. At a meeting scheduled for the Brava Theater this afternoon, local artists will present their ideas to be considered for a new community-created proposal that will be submitted to BART in the hope of changing officials’ minds about the artist selection.

The Calle 24 Art for BART committee consists of institutions, artists and merchants around the 24th Street neighborhood, including the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, the Brava Theater Center and the Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center. The organization has set up a calendar of meetings to bring together ideas and deliver a design proposal from the community.

The first meeting, on Jan. 26, was an initial discussion to define what the southeast corner of the station should be. It brought together a group of artists who expressed their thoughts about what changes should be made to the plaza surrounding the station.

Erick Arguello of the Lower 24th Street Merchants Association and Marta Ayala, a local artist, muralist, teacher and contractor who has worked on over 20 art projects and collaborations in the Mission, introduced and led the discussion. Ayala encouraged participants to think about the elements that make the neighborhood visually rich and how they could be incorporated into the project.

Artists and residents debated over the elements they thought the renovated area should incorporate. Several insisted on the importance of highlighting the Latino history and culture of the neighborhood, but other ideas, such as the transformation of the area, were also considered.

At today’s meeting at the Brava Theater, the artists will present their work, either individually or in collaborative groups. Galería de la Raza is the lead organization submitting the proposal and will manage the responsibilities outlined in BART’s request for qualifications.

The battle won’t be an easy one. Committee members have said that there is no guarantee the proposal will be selected, and the time frame is very short. The finalists selected by BART, Kipp Kobayashi and Anne Marie Karlsen, who reside in Los Angeles, and Charles Sowers, from San Rafael, were introduced to Mission residents last September.

The Calle 24 Art for BART Committee now has less than a month to change the BART officials’ minds.

The committee will look at the artists’ designs and ideas and choose which ones to move forward with in creating its proposal, explained Ani Rivera, Galería de la Raza’s executive director.

“From there, whatever concepts and designs that we feel that speak to what we’re looking for, we’ll invite to make a full sketch, a full proposal, and present it again Feb. 23,” Rivera said. After that, the committee will have approximately two weeks to finalize and submit the proposal.

“We have a lot of talent and a lot of support we can call out to,” she said. “That station is a very important entry point to this community, so we want to make sure that it’s reflective of the historical contribution of the local art organizations and artists that have been here for over four decades.

“We want to leave a mark, we want to make sure that 40 years from now, when we look at that BART station, there is a reflection of all the work that has been done, the work that has really helped shape and transform this neighborhood.”

The committee’s second meeting will take place today at Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St. at York, from 12:30 to 3 p.m. The last meeting will be held Saturday, February 23 at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, 2868 Mission St. at 25th St.

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  1. I see a design so forward-looking and modern as to include a working escalator!

  2. I find this approach to be refreshing and something that should be heralded not put down by local residents. Give them a chance to make it something special.

  3. MissionResident

    They need to somehow put in to the design a way to close the station at night. This way folks don’t use it as their toilet at night. The city pays millions of dollars a year cleaning out the crap in these stations. Closing them at night would save a tone of money that can be used to help these homeless folks.

  4. Since Bart refuses to police these plazas, how about just getting rid of them altogether and turning them back into retail space?

    You don’t need a plaza to have a transit station, and when you do it’s almost always a failure — just look at the ones on Mission or the one at Powell and Market as examples. All you need is stairs and an elevator.

  5. Ana

    Show ’em what you got! Hopefully BART will reconsider a local initiative.

    And, in regards to policing plaza… maybe SFPD could have a night patrol “stationed” at 24th BART. This way late-evening muni riders transferring from BART/bus could feel a bit safer. (I for one don’t take muni late in evenings anymore).

  6. Bob

    Precita Eyes and more ugly murals…. what a joke.This space should be used for retail and high density housing, to really help out the area.

  7. local Resident

    I think the contributions that Precita Eyes and other local artist have made to the area are priceless. Its what’s made people want to come to this neighborhood. If people want high density housing they should go downtown.

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