Art in Central Market

Market Street is an artery of the city, which is connected to San Francisco’s financial district, downtown and its civic centre and then moves into more residential areas.

“It’s a major commercial area, a major government area and north of Central Market is the Tenderloin which has been seen as a containment zone,” says Robynn Takayama. “A lot of social services are located there including drug treatment and homelessness services, and so that impacts on how people view the neighbourhood. People think about Central Market as a place you use to go to and from and through but never somewhere that you go to.”

Central Market Dreamscape by Paz de la Calzada (2011)For Robynn, one of the most exciting outcomes was the public celebration of the launch of the first round of Art in Storefronts in 2009–comprising ten artworks in Central Market and three in the nearby Tenderloin created especially for the spaces they occupied.

“The launch was a key part of our program to bring people out, to have that celebration,” says Robynn. “On Market Street the sidewalks are wider than most sidewalks and so we had a band playing. You would never think that you would see people dancing on Market Street and there we had it! 

“So that that was the moment where we saw a huge amount of community come together – coming out to Market Street to look at the art and to expose the neighbourhood in a very democratic way to contemporary art. Maybe the residents wouldn’t go up to the galleries at nearby 77 Geary or pay to go to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, but with this project they’re walking to and from and seeing these beautiful works of art.”

The program generated increased foot traffic and also generated a greater sense of safety in the area because of the large numbers of people the art program brought into the street after dark.

Image caption: Central Market Dreamscape by Paz de la Calzada (2011). Photo by Lydia Gonzales.