City planner Ilaria Salvadori takes suggestions for public art changes for the 16th Street Mission BART Plaza. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

On Tuesday, city planners received suggestions for changes to public art at the 16th Street Mission BART Plaza, part of a series of workshops held this month under the Mission Public Life Plan. The project aims to invigorate the Mission corridor by focusing on public spaces, easing transit and promoting local art and business.

Held at the Redstone Building, the public meeting was the last of three to enlist input on plaza modifications. Following workshops on commerce and safety, Tuesday’s meeting focused on public art.

“We see art as a way of expressing the neighborhood identity,” said the plan’s manager, Ilaria Salvadori. “We know this neighborhood is one of the richest in art in San Francisco, and it is important to capture the collective identity of the Mission.”

While the meeting was open to the public, only four of the 15 attendees were unaffiliated with the project. The other 11 were connected to the Mission Public Life Plan in various ways — some planners, some policemen, and some BART employees.

The lack of public turnout was somewhat disappointing for Salvadori, who hoped for more public involvement, she said. But by the end of the meeting she had written two poster boards-worth of comments from the discussion. Most of these revolved on how artwork would be curated and what themes might be showcased.

Which were these?

“The history of the area. Who’s been here, what have people contributed, who’s coming in,” said a woman from the Mission Neighborhood Resource Center, describing it as, “a little time capsule so people feel included.”

“I really liked the idea of the historical timeline,” said Andrea Baker, a consultant working for BART. “As folks die off, we lose a lot of rich important history.”

“It’s important to address the feeling of change in a positive way,” added Salvadori.

But such installations would require commitment, and city planners and community members represented said they envisioned a paid employee dedicated to managing public art at the plaza.

No solid hiring plans were made, and it’s unclear to whom the curator would report nor whether it would be a full-time position. Salvadori hoped to answer some of these questions at subsequent meetings with art organizations, and was adamant about being open to input.

“I think we need to do a follow-up meeting, and for art it’s much more important because the community has so much of it that you can’t just have one solution. You have to get more people involved.”

Interested parties should visit the Mission Public Life Plan’s contacts page and keep an eye out for future community meetings.

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  1. How about a conceptual piece – an open air sewer where people can throw their trash or urinate wherever they want and just generally (sometimes literally) shit all over it. It’s symbolic of the city and especially the Mission and residents and local governments’ attitudes towards them.

  2. I work in this building. We have spaces on each floor for fliering. If the artists who have art & theater spaces in the building weren’t notified, then they couldn’t get the word out to the their larger community. So, if they want it to be a larger community discussion, rather than insular, they need to spend an extra 20 minutes posting notices near the elevator doors where we have push-pin boards
    and here:

  3. too many cooks spoil the broth. just let someone create art – why does it always have to have an agenda? street art in SF pales in comparison to places like NYC or London because of this. leave the art to the artists.

  4. The Mission Street corridor is one of the most vigorous in San Francisco, making unnecessary this “planning” effort to “invigorate” the area.

    Laying the ground work for more gentrification?

    Why doesn’t the planning department initiate a process about the out of scale luxury housing developments proposed for the area? Seems like a better use of public resources than these meetings.