SAN FRANCISCO, June 12, 2012 - The San Francisco Arts Commission is pleased to announce that two recently commissioned public art projects were named best public artworks in the United States at the 2012 Americans for the Arts convention held in San Antonio from June 8-10. The artworks include two art installations at San Francisco International Airport's new Terminal 2 (T2) by local artist Walter Kitundu and Seattle-based artist Norie Sato. During the annual Public Art Year in Review session, three independent art experts, Principal of the Public Art Collaborative Jean Greer, Artist/Architect Daniel Mihalyo, and Artist Celia Mu˝oz, presented 50 of their top choices for the most innovative permanent or temporary public artworks created or debuted in 2011. The two aforementioned artworks were chosen from approximately 500 entries from across the country.
"The San Francisco Arts Commission's public art projects have consistently been selected by the Public Art Network and Americans for the Arts as among the best in the United States," said Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny. "This honor is a testament to our commitment to excellence and making world-class art a part of the fabric of our City's architecture and public spaces."
Walter Kitundu is currently an Artist-in Residence at the Exploratorium. In 2008, he was awarded one of the coveted MacArthur Fellowship "genius" awards. His installation, Bay Area Bird Encounters, at T2 features a group of interactive artworks that were designed to offer travelers of all ages a playful oasis. Using high-quality veneer plywood, which he then hand-stained, Kitundu created two benches shaped like bird wings that double as musical instruments. Serving as the backdrop for these musical benches, is a mural made of inlaid wood featuring local birds such as a Red-tailed Hawks, Anna's Hummingbirds, herons, egrets, Northern Harriers, and Burrowing Owls. The birds, which are printed on wood and also inlaid, are photographs that the artist took in San Francisco. The focal point of the mural is a large bird whose wings, like the benches, are reminiscent of a xylophone or marimba and can be played with rubber mallets. The keys of the instruments are made from a tropical hardwood called Garapa. Each of the musical components of his installation are linked to a specific bird. When played left to right, a portion of the bird's song is heard, in a lower register. The instruments can also be played freely, and they are tuned so that they can be played together harmoniously.
Norie Sato has created public artworks since 1990 and has been involved in urban and public art planning since 1984. The imagery for her installation, Air Over Under, on the fašade of T2 was inspired by our relationship to clouds and flight. Specifically, her work delves into some of flight's inherent qualities: ephemeral, abstract, pictoral, natural, man-made, symmetrical and changeable. The artwork depicts the dual experience of being under or over clouds when flying in a plane. According to the artist, "Air Over Under is about perception, relativity and how our position and situations are never static."
The fašade installation is comprised of a grid of 120 pieces of laminated glass panels approximately 4' x 10' each covering two 16' x 150' areas. Produced at Franz Mayer Studios in Munich, Germany, the laminated panels are comprised of one layer of glass with hand-painted glass enamels and another layer that includes a silkscreened pixilated image in white. The combined effect is of a photographic image that, depending on the viewer's distance or point of view, either looks clear or more abstract and atmospheric. The colors are subtle, and change gradually from blue to green on one side and from blue to purple on the other side.
This is the 12th year that Americans for the Arts, the nation's leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts, has recognized public art works. The artists and commissioning organizations involved in creating and supporting these public art works will receive letters of recognition and congratulations from Americans for the Arts. Last year, the Arts Commission's mosaic mural and bas relief sculptures by Alameda artist Owen Smith at Laguna Honda Hospital were honored along with the temporary installation of Zhang Huan's colossal Three Heads Six Arms in Civic Center Plaza.
About the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Public Art Program
The San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) is the City agency that champions the arts in San Francisco. We believe that a creative cultural environment is essential to the City's well-being. Established by charter in 1932, SFAC programs integrate the arts into all aspects of City life. Programs include: Civic Art Collection, Civic Design Review, Community Arts & Education, Cultural Equity Grants, Public Art, SFAC Gallery, Street Artists Licensing, and the Summer & the Symphony Concert Series. The agency's core values are committed to the principle that all residents have equal access to arts experiences in all disciplines, that programs are provided comprehensively and evenly throughout the City, and that they are innovative and of the highest quality.
SFAC Public Art website: www.sfartscommission.org/pubartcollection
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