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Rainin Foundation Awards Three Public Art Grants

Top photo: The Exploratorium’s “Sound Commons” at UN Plaza in San Francisco. Photo credit: The Exploratorium

Oakland, Calif. – The Kenneth Rainin Foundation announced today that three new public art projects will receive a total of $400,000 in the inaugural round of the Foundation’s Open Spaces Program.  The grants support nonprofit organizations and artists to partner to create temporary place-based works in Oakland and San Francisco that engage communities, showcase artistic experimentation and energize public spaces.

Shelley Trott, the Rainin Foundation’s Director of Arts Strategy and Ventures, said, “We recognize that temporary public art enables artists to be bigger and bolder in their experiments. We are excited to support this diverse set of place-based works and the critical issues they seek to explore.”

The selected public art projects feature a spectrum of artistic practices, geographic locations and issues:

The People’s Kitchen’s “Kitchen Remedies” at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific America Center.

  • Remedies: From the Farm, to the Kitchen, to the Table, to the Streets ­People’s Kitchen Collective and AIR-SF will host a free meal for up to 500 people in West Oakland in spring 2018 as the culmination of a series of community events celebrating the shared struggle, resilience and healing remedies of people of color.
  • Mutual Air Society The Exploratorium & Rosten Woo will design a network of specially designed bells that will respond to carbon fluctuations in the air, creating a shared soundscape across Oakland. Residents will be the stewards to individual bells that collectively give presence to the air and climate. Over six months, starting in spring 2018, this public sculpture will create a data set that can be used by climate scientists and public health researchers.

“Picture Powderhorn” by Joanna Haigood/Zaccho Dance Theatre. Photo credit: Zaccho Dance Theatre

These projects, selected from a pool of 12 finalists, were recommended by a panel of field experts. The jury included Kevin Chen, Bay Area curator, writer and visual artist; Taraneh Hemami, Iranian-American visual artist and arts educator based in San Francisco; and Irene Tsatsos, Gallery Director and Chief Curator at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena.

In a joint statement, the jury said, “We were impressed by the wide range of artistic disciplines and concerns represented in the finalist projects—a testament to the diversity of the Bay Area and the openness of this program in considering new forms of public art. We were particularly excited to select projects with deep community engagement processes and original approaches to addressing timely social justice issues. We look forward to experiencing the works, and are proud to support such visionary ideas.”

In addition to funding new projects, the Open Spaces Program aims to bolster the public art field in the San Francisco Bay Area by building the capacity of local artists through professional development opportunities. In September 2016, the Rainin Foundation hosted a symposium that brought together local and national artists to investigate the shifting field of public artistic practice. Watch videos of the symposium presentations here.

“The Foundation is eager to see this first round of projects come to fruition,” said Trott. “We look forward to evolving our Open Spaces Program and continuing to create opportunities for emerging and established artists to pursue innovative and timely public art projects.”

Applications for the next Open Spaces Program grant cycle open on June 26, 2017.

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