San Francisco: Arts for the City: Civic Art and Urban Change, 1932-2012

San Francisco: Arts for the City: Civic Art and Urban Change, 1932-2012

by Susan Wels
     
 

In 1934, San Francisco's Coit Tower was finally complete and open to the public. Seeing that iconic spire, you'd never guess the years of debate and artistic passion that went into its creation: how many people petitioned against its construction, how controversial the WPA murals were, how deeply loved it became. Coit Tower was one of the San Francisco Arts

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Overview

In 1934, San Francisco's Coit Tower was finally complete and open to the public. Seeing that iconic spire, you'd never guess the years of debate and artistic passion that went into its creation: how many people petitioned against its construction, how controversial the WPA murals were, how deeply loved it became. Coit Tower was one of the San Francisco Arts Commission's first projects, and it set the tone for the next eighty years of public art in a city full of world-class sculptures, music venues, and community arts programs. From the Ethnic Dance Festival to slam poetry performances at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, Arts for the City tells the story of an urban landscape where diversity, creative energy, and political activism are reflected in civic art that is bold and innovative and where citizens take pride in vigorous, often contentious, creativity. Illustrated with images by distinguished contemporary photographers and artwork from the city's Civic Art Collection of over four thousand pieces, it is a celebration of a uniquely fascinating American city and a journey through the events that have shaped San Francisco's rebellious and vibrant cultural reputation.

Featured photographers include: Richard Barnes, Ruth Bernhard, John Chiara, Imogen Cunningham, Jim Goldberg, Doug Hall, Todd Hido, Reagan Louie, Mike Mandel, Richard Misrach, Dan Nicoletta, Ira Nowinski, Susan Schwartzenberg, Larry Sultan, Catherine Wagner, and Henry Wessel.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Wels, in collaboration with the San Francisco Arts Commission, takes a bright look back at the history of the venerable Bay Area organization and its many accomplishments. Recalling the group's inception more than eight decades ago—it was "founded on the principle that a creative cultural environment is essential to the city's well-being"—Wels (Amelia Earhart: The Thrill of It) describes many of the public art installations and events it has supported since. Murals inside the iconic Coit Tower, for example, done in 1934 by a selection of PWAP artists, are among the commission's first projects. They were not completed without great political controversy, however. Other sections deal proficiently with pop culture movements in the 1960s and '70s now synonymous with San Francisco—Beat poets, "the hippie phenomenon", and the Summer of Love—as well as with more recent art developments. In this way, Wels's upbeat, thoroughly civic-minded book conveys not only the story of a dynamic arts agency in the City by the Bay. It also describes the extraordinary work the organization has helped to produce, and borne witness to, over the years across different media. With 175 full-color photos. (Apr.)
Library Journal
This book tells the story of the San Francisco Arts Commission and how it became a national and international leader in promoting municipal advocacy for the arts. The commission was founded in 1932 to oversee public art and municipal music but, over time, assumed responsibility for all aspects of the city's cultural life, including arts festivals, street artists, and the design of city-constructed buildings. San Franciscan Wels (Amelia Earhart: The Thrill of It) presents the achievements and struggles of the commission from its creation up to 2012, divided into six chronological chapters. The book's 175 color photographs document a wide range of San Francisco's art and cultural activities. The book also includes a list of San Francisco arts commissioners from 1932 to the present. VERDICT No other books have been written about the commission, though Michele H. Bogart's The Politics of Urban Beauty and Sarah Schrank's Art and the City cover the arts-government relationship in New York City and Los Angeles, respectively. For readers interested in San Francisco's cultural history and in how government, community, and artists can work together for the benefit of all.—Martha Smith, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781597142069
Publisher:
Heyday Books
Publication date:
04/28/2013
Product dimensions:
9.32(w) x 11.04(h) x 0.94(d)

Meet the Author

Susan Wels has written seventeen books, including The New York Times best-selling Titanic: Legacy of the World's Greatest Ocean Liner, California Academy of Sciences: Architecture in Harmony with Nature, and Amelia Earhart: The Thrill of It. She is an author who specializes in history and an award-winning editor. She lives in San Francisco.

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