Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bayview library sculpture will not delay new building

The San Francisco Arts Commission Visual Arts Committee voted unanimously to recommend to the full commission that a site-specific sculpture in an exterior wall of the existing Bayview Branch Library be de-accessioned from the Civic Art Collection so that the San Francisco Public Library can move forward, on schedule, with demolition of the old building.

The sculpture can still be preserved if supporters step forward with the necessary resources before demolition begins. No one spoke at the commission meeting on behalf of the artwork.

Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood residents crowded the San Francisco Arts Commission conference room on Wednesday, October 21st to express unity about moving forward with the building of the new Bayview Branch Library which might have been stalled by a late stage proposal to redesign the library around a sculpture that is part of the existing building.

Testimony about the importance of the new library to Bayview residents with regard to violence prevention, education, historic preservation and new artwork developing for the future building brought tears to the eyes of some residents, and prompted one SF Arts Commissioner to say that the show of unity was “frankly moving” and unusual.

Brian Bannon, SFPL Chief of Branches, spoke on behalf of the San Francisco Public Library, making a strong case that the existing sculpture was out of sync with the new building design, and that forcing the library to preserve it would derail the construction schedule and budget for the new building. His presentation was supported by comments from SFPL City Librarian Luis Herrera and SFPL Commission President Jewelle Gomez.

Bayview residents presented the commissioners with a petition listing 237 hand-written and electronic signatures in support of de-accessioning the sculpture. An online survey showed that 95 percent of respondents were in favor of de-accessioning.

In preparation for the discussion at the Visual Arts Committee, the sculpture at the existing branch library was appraised at $100,000, and the cost of preserving and relocating was estimated to be between $100,000 and $150,000.

See more about the Bayview Branch Library, including comments on the recent issue from Managing Librarian Linda Brooks-Burton.