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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Natalie Mulford, Heyday
Tel: 510-549-3564 E: Natalie@heydaybooks.com

Kate Patterson, San Francisco Arts Commission
Tel: 415-252-4638 E: Kate.Patterson@sfgov.org

THE SAN FRANCISCO ARTS COMMISSION AND HEYDAY BRING 80 YEARS OF CULTURAL INNOVATION TO LIFE IN NEW BOOK

San Francisco: Arts for the City—Civic Art and Urban Change, 1932–2012
on Bookshelves April 1, 2013

 

SAN FRANCISCO/BERKELEY, March 14, 2013 – On April 1, 2013, history and art buffs alike can journey back in time and discover the events, politics and creativity that shaped San Francisco’s physical and cultural landscape. Commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission and published by the Berkeley-based Heyday, San Francisco: Arts for the City—Civic Art and Urban Change, 1932-2012 is written by New York Times best-selling author Susan Wels (Amelia Earhart: For the Thrill of It). In Arts for the City, Bay Area-based Wels chronicles the role of the Arts Commission as the force behind the city’s evolution into an urban center filled with world-class painting, sculpture, music, dance, literature and community arts programs.

“This book illustrates how vital the arts and design have been to the development of San Francisco into the beloved city that it is today,” said Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny. “Like our libraries and parks, ensuring broad access to the arts is an essential city service. After reading this book, people will be able to look around our neighborhoods and see how the Arts Commission has had a hand in making this a more beautiful and culturally rich place.”

According to Heyday Founder and Executive Director Malcolm Margolin, “Effective public art is like a fleet of icebreakers, crashing through frozen thoughts, opening channels to the imagination, lessening the distance between people, creating community. This book is a tribute to the courage of those who, often in the face of fierce criticism, pushed beyond easy cliché and political comfort to give San Francisco 80 years of public art that has connected us not only to our deepest yearnings for social justice, beauty, playfulness, and delight but in the end to each other as well.”

The book begins with the building of Coit Tower in 1934 and the years of debate and artistic passion that went into its creation. 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 the city. Wels traces the development of the city’s public arts scene from the WPA era through the creative upheaval of the mid-century, the digital boom of the nineties to today. 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 rare archival images and photographs by distinguished Bay Area contemporary photographers such as Todd Hiddo, Richard Barnes and Catherine Wagner, and artwork from the city’s Civic Art Collection of over four thousand artworks, the book is a celebration of a uniquely fascinating American city.

 

FREE LECTURE WITH AUTHOR SUSAN WELS

WHAT: From San Francisco’s iconic Coit Tower to its free-spirited festivals, San Francisco: Arts for the City—Civic Art and Urban Change, 1932-2012 celebrates the events, politics and creativity that have made the city the cultural icon it is today. Hear the book’s author Susan Wels recount some of the most important moments in the San Francisco Arts Commission’s eighty-year history of shaping the city’s cultural and physical landscape and from the Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny and Commission President JD Beltran. 
WHO: San Francisco Arts Commission and Heyday in partnership with the San Francisco Public Library 
WHEN: Thursday, April 4 at 6:30 p.m.
WHERE: San Francisco Public Library, Latino Room, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco, CA 94102
INFO: Free and open to the public; for more information visit sfpl.org.

 

FREE LUNCHTIME CONVERSATION WITH URBAN DESIGN CRITIC JOHN KING AND AUTHOR SUSAN WELS
 

WHAT: Join us for a lunchtime conversation about the events, politics and creativity that have shaped San Francisco’s cultural and physical landscape with Urban Design Critic for the San Francisco Chronicle John King and Susan Wels, author of the new book San Francisco: Arts for the City—Civic Art and Urban Change, 1932–2012. Director of Cultural Affairs for the S.F. Arts Commission Tom DeCaigny will provide introductory remarks. Books will be available for purchase and signing. San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, 654 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94105 Free and open to the public; for more information visit spur.org. 
WHO: San Francisco Arts Commission and Heyday in partnership with SPUR.
WHEN: Thursday, April 11 at 12:30 p.m.
WHERE: San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, 654 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94105
INFO: Free and open to the public; for more information visit spur.org.

 

Advance praise for San Francisco: Arts for the City

“A spectacular look at the evolution of the city’s art scene—carefully researched and gracefully written.”

Robert Cherny, professor emeritus at San Francisco State University and author of San Francisco, 1865–1932

“What a vivid lens into the churn of culture that has defined San Francisco again and again in the past eighty years! This book is a crash course in the importance of making room for socially relevant art in a city with dynamic and complex creativity—and a reminder that even the conflicts are worth having, because they highlight the passions that define what our society holds dear.”
John King, urban design critic for the San Francisco Chronicle and the author of Cityscapes

“Deeply researched, this is a ‘must read’ for anyone trying to make sense of ‘E Pluribus Unum’ in our multicultural society.”
William Issel, author of Church and State in the City: Catholics and Politics in Twentieth-Century San Francisco

 

Book Details

San Francisco: Arts for the CityCivic Art and Urban Change, 1932–2012

  • Written by Susan Wels
  • Foreword by President, San Francisco Arts Commission JD Beltran, Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny and PJ Johnston (former Commission president)
  • Introduction by Jeannene Przyblyski, provost of California Institute of the Arts
  • 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.
  • Hardcover • 9 x 11 • $45.00
  • 224 pages with 175 full-color photographs
  • ISBN: 978-1-59714-206-9
  • Art history/Architecture

 

About 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.

Where to Buy

San Francisco: Arts for the City is available through bookstores, major book distributors including Ingram, Baker and Taylor, and other distribution centers, or by contacting Heyday directly at (510) 549-3564, ext. 304, via fax at (510) 549-1889, by email at orders@heydaybooks.com, or by visiting clicking here.

About the San Francisco Arts Commission

The San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) is the City agency that champions the arts in San Francisco. We believe that a creative cultural environment is essential to the City’s well-being. Established by charter in 1932, the SFAC integrates the arts into all aspects of City life. Programs include: Civic Art Collection, Civic Design Review, Community Arts & Education, Cultural Equity Grants, Public Art, SFAC Galleries and Street Artist Licensing. The agency’s core values are committed to the principle that all residents have equal access to arts experiences in all disciplines, that programs are provided comprehensively and evenly throughout the City, and that they are innovative and of the highest quality.

About Heyday

Heyday is an independent, nonprofit publisher and unique cultural institution that promotes widespread awareness and celebration of California’s many cultures, landscapes, and boundary-breaking ideas. Heyday publishes about 25 new books a year, sponsors over 200 events, and participates vigorously in the cultural life of California.

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