arts Blog

Foundation Awards $500,000 for Public Art Projects

Funds support place-based projects in the Bay Area that explore timely issues of immigration, transgender activism, women’s rights and gentrification.

Oakland, Calif. – The Kenneth Rainin Foundation announced today that four temporary, place-based public art projects will receive a total of $500,000 through its Open Spaces Program. The grants support nonprofit organizations and artists to partner to create projects in Oakland and San Francisco that engage communities, showcase artistic experimentation and energize public spaces.

“Temporary public art projects enable artists to respond to critical issues that resonate with their local communities,” said Shelley Trott, the Rainin Foundation’s Director of Arts Strategy and Ventures. “These unique projects leverage innovative storytelling and community building to highlight diverse voices and elevate underrepresented histories.”

Youth Speaks

Youth Speaks’ Teen Poetry Slam Grand Slam Finals. Photo courtesy of Youth Speaks.

The selected public art projects are based in Oakland and San Francisco and address a variety of timely issues, including immigration, transgender activism, women’s rights and gentrification. The projects also explore human movement and mobility within cities, upending notions of public art as static and still.

2018 Open Spaces grantees include:

  • TRANSITION24 ­– The Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco, with Survival Project artists Raina Ho, Thy Tran and Bryan Wu, will produce a story-sharing project using San Francisco’s 24 MUNI bus line to engage communities along its route in an exploration of survival, access, migration and community resilience. The project will feature a series of multi-media exhibits showcasing oral histories, photography and public archives, and will incorporate MUNI infrastructure as public installation sites.
  • TENDER (n) a person who takes charge – Jo Kreiter’s Flyaway Productions, Vân-Ánh Võ and Sean Riley will produce a multi-faceted performance celebrating 100 years of outcast activism in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. The event will focus on the culture of liberation among young, working women in the early 20th century; 1960s transgender activism; the stories of Vietnamese immigrants, and of the longstanding single room occupancy Cadillac Hotel.
  • An Aztec Dancer at Galería de la Raza.

    Galería’s de la Raza Digital Mural Project featuring “Por Vida” by artist Manuel Paul of the Maricón Collective. Photo courtesy of Galería de la Raza.

    • ARTruck ResidenciesGalería de la Raza, with curator Alexandra “Lexx” Valdez and artist-in-residence Jessica Sabogal, will host screen and digital printmaking residencies to explore displacement and the housing crisis affecting San Francisco’s Mission District. Housed in a mobile unit, the residences will travel along the 16th Street corridor between Mission and Bryant streets.
  • We So BayYouth Speaks, led by artists James Kass and Sean San Jose, will engage young people in six San Francisco and Oakland communities to tell stories about their neighborhoods. Audiences will travel by BART to experience these stories through live performance, audio and print.

These projects were selected from ten finalists by a panel of experts. The jury included Mildred Howard, Bay Area sculptor and mixed-media visual artist; Shannon Jackson, the Cyrus and Michelle Hadidi Chair in the Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley; Sanaz Mazinani, Bay Area photographer, videographer, and installation artist; and Norie Sato, sculptor and designer based in Seattle.

Applications for the next Open Spaces Program grant cycle open on June 25, 2018. Visit the Rainin Foundation website for more information.

As part of its efforts to encourage public art, the Foundation will host its second public art symposium, Exploring Public Art Practices, on March 10, 2018, at the Oakland Museum of California. This free event will bring together artists from a range of practices who are working in public art. Presenting artists will discuss the unique ways they engage and work in communities, and how they challenge the concept of place. The event is open to the public. Register here.

“Along with our Open Spaces Program grants, the symposium aims to build the capacity of local artists and bolster the region’s public art field,” said Trott. “We hope this event inspires artists to discuss the opportunities and challenges of working in public space.”


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