Press Release: ‘Monuments, Murals and Memorials’ Panel Discussion – Western Neighborhoods Project

From the Western Neighborhoods Project:

After several controversial monuments in Golden Gate Park were toppled by protestors on June 19, 2020, artists and historians began to critically reassess the purpose of public art and reimagine existing cultural landscapes by adding context and challenging dominant narratives. One year later, sculptor Dana King with support from Illuminate the Arts, the Museum of African Diaspora, the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce and many others will unveil Monumental Reckoning, which will encircle one of these toppled monuments, a memorial to Francis Scott Key, with “350 ancestors” standing in judgement. Illuminate is also the lead group behind the installation of James Weldon Johnson’s words Lift Every Voice onto the frieze of the Spreckles Temple of Music.

Innovative installations like these are happening nationwide, but we’re fortunate in the San Francisco Bay Area to have some of the best artists working in this realm. Artists like Ben Wood, whose augmented reality projections provide critical context to Victor Arnautoff’s “Life of Washington” mural at Washington High School in the Richmond District. You can experience his current installation in partnership with the Potrero Hill Archives Project above Christopher’s Books on weekends through July 13th. Artists like Cheyenne Concepcion and Anna Lisa Escobedo, two womxn who recently spearheaded the New Monuments Taskforce–a fantastical municipal agency engaged in the dialogue, development and design of New Monuments in California. Their recent initiative, Marble&Media Lab, allows visitors to the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park to view monuments through a new lens courtesy of augmented reality, an impactful experience alongside Monumental Reckoning and Lift Every Voice.

In light of this, we invite you to a panel discussion highlighting the exceptional work of all these artists. Join us for “Monuments, Murals and Memorials” moderated by Executive Director Nicole Meldahl of Western Neighborhoods Project on Thursday, June 24, 2021 at 6:00pm via Zoom as she speaks with Cheyenne Concepcion, Ben Davis, Anna Lisa Escobedo, Dana King and Ben Wood about their current projects and the bigger picture of why their work is important, what it means to San Francisco, and where we can go from here.

Pre-registration is required to attend this Zoom webinar. This event is free but donations are appreciated and will be split evenly between the panelists and moderator.

You may register for the event here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/monuments-murals- and-memorials-tickets-158303202139

Western Neighborhoods Project (WNP) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that has preserved, interpreted, and shared the diverse history and culture of San Francisco’s west side since 1999. In support of this work, WNP launched OpenSFHistory, which makes thousands of mapped historical images of San Francisco available to the public, in 2014. Visit their Richmond District office and gallery at 1617 Balboa Street near 17th Avenu

Cheyenne Concepcion is an interdisciplinary artist and designer based in San Francisco. She creates work that examines the politics of place, using installation, social practice, sculpture and textile. Drawing on her interest and research in urban planning and utilizing her training as a designer, Concepcion’s work is site-specific and focuses on land development, cultural memory, migration and often has a public component. She was a 2020 Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Fellow and, in 2019, she was a Monument Lab Fellow, co-founding and serving as artistic director of New Monuments Taskforce (NMTF)–a fantastical municipal agency engaged in the dialogue, development and design of New Monuments in California. NMTF’s recent initiative, Marble & Media Lab, a Public Art workshop with Zero1 Art + Technology, applied Augmented Reality to the Public Realm at Golden Gate Park’s Music Concourse.page2image10193344page2image10194688page2image10193152

Ben Davis runs the arts nonprofit Illuminate. He’s the catalyst behind such projects as The Bay Lights on the Bay Bridge, Photosynthesis on the Conservatory of Flowers, Grace Light at Grace Cathedral, Revival at The Spreckels Temple of Music in Golden Gate Park, and illuminating The Pink Triangle on Twin Peaks. Illuminate’s mission is to rally large groups of people together to create impossible works of public art that, through awe, free humanity’s better nature. Davis is currently collaborating with sculptor Dana King on Monumental Reckoning and Lift Every Voice, to be unveiled in Golden Gate Park’s Music Concourse at 5:30pm on June 18, 2021.

Anna Lisa Escobedo is a visual artist, muralist, activist, event producer, cultural worker, and networker born and raised in Central Los Angeles, California. She moved to San Francisco in 2008 to attend school and, since that time, has worked with community- based organizations on numerous art projects including a mural restoration with Precita Eyes Muralists at The Women’s Building and a poetry series with Poet Laureate Kim Shuck at the Mission Public Library. She is also a co-founder of the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District. Escobedo currently works as Engagement Project Manager for Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) and is actively involved in New Monuments Taskforce with Cheyenne Concepcion.

Dana King is a classical figurative sculptor who creates public monuments of Black Bodies in Bronze. She studies the strength and resilience of African descendants and creates pieces made of clay with her hands that are then cast in bronze. King prefers sculptures because they inhabit space and space is power. She believes sculpture provides an opportunity to shape culturally significant memories that determine how African descendants are publicly held and remembered. King’s sculptures link generations by revealing common threads: shared values, experiences, and aspirations. She knows they help those alive today compare and contrast their world with that of social pioneers, both enslaved and free, whose courage and commitment to excellence helped create modern society. Dana King creates memories, hoping you see yourself and those you love in her work.

Ben Wood is a public video artist based in San Francisco. In his work with large-scale projection and installations, he combines media art with historical subject matter. He is especially devoted to using contemporary media to animate public spaces with images of their unrecognized history, and exposing how histories of marginalized and often forgotten communities may be visually reintroduced into the physical landscape of the present. Wood has explored a re-animation of history, by reviving historic murals in order to spark dynamic conversation about relevant contemporary questions and issues. Wood is known for large-scale displays on Coit Tower, Haas-Lilienthal House, Temple Emanuel, Saint Ignatius Church, within Mission Dolores, and other San Francisco landmarks.

1 reply »

  1. Where was the “community discussion” before Ben Davis put his tacky light installations on the Bay Bridge (where he sells each taxpayer-funded bulb as a “memorial light”), ruined the Conservatory with his night time lighting, put those awful colored lights (and sound system!) on the Band Shell?

    Nowhere to be found!

    We should not have “public art” in SF unless it is going to be a higher standard. And take the rest of those awful statues down and put them in an anti-racist museum!


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