Academy Students Honor Tenderloin's History
Artists use shape and color in public displays aiming to help people connect with the city
(L–R) Kristopher Liwanag, Trinity Holsworth, Juan Ruiz, Michael Stapleton, San Francisco District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim, Derick Moore, President of Academy of Art University Dr. Elisa Stephens, Camlo Looper, Raquel Lupica, Pam Marano, Tim Andrews, Safi Kolozsvari, PG&E San Francisco Senior Manager Stephanie Isaacson, Michael Riordan of PG&E, Director of San Francisco Department of Public Works Mohammed Nuru, Executive Director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic Randy Shaw, Fine Art instructor Carol Nunnelly, Captain Jason Cherniss of the San Francisco Police Deparment, Executive Director of the School of Fine Art Dr. Craig Nelson and Vice President of Community & Government Relations Rebecca Delgado Rottman. Photo by Bob Toy.
A team of Academy of Art University students and School of Fine Art instructor Carol Nunnelly have made quite an impression on the Tenderloin District—in fact, they’ve made 13.
The group of artists donated 1,200 hours to create 13 painted 4-by-8-foot panels, each of which represent an aspect of the Tenderloin’s history—from the 1906 earthquake to the Blackhawk Jazz Club—and are now displayed on the side of the Pacific Gas & Electric Co. substation.
“We wanted the public space to have shape and color and help people realize they can identify with their city,” Nunnelly said. “Art is not a luxury but a necessity for everyone’s life. It’s like a gallery for the public to appreciate.”
PG&E paid for all of the art supplies used in creating the 13 mural panels and also made a contribution to the Academy’s Fine Art Student Scholarship Fund.
PG&E San Francisco Senior Manager Stephanie Isaacson said the company is proud of the Tenderloin.
“It’s very important for us to be a part of the community,” Isaacson said. “We’re proud to have worked with the students at the Academy on this project. These murals are a beautiful depiction of the Tenderloin and its history. Furthermore it confirms the ongoing relationship between the community and its residents.”
The project’s creative vision and art direction was given by Dr. Craig Nelson, executive director of the School of Fine Art, and Executive Director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic Randy Shaw, who provided the students with historical reference materials.
Academy of Art University President Dr. Elisa Stephens speaking during the dedication ceremony. Photo by Bob Toy.
There was a lot of research, design and color study that had to be approved before painting even began,” Nelson said during the dedication ceremony for the murals on Friday, April 10. “Our goal was to explore the diversity of the subject but keep it cohesive. The students couldn’t take the pieces home as homework, so they came in whenever they could.”
Student painter Michael Stapleton said the research for the project was one of the most exciting aspects.
“The boxer panel is my favorite,” Stapleton said. “It’s based on a story behind the gym that was at the bottom of a hotel. It was a fun piece to stage and make.”
“Beautification is something the Academy does very well,” said Rebecca Delgado Rottman, vice president of Community and Government Relations at the Academy. “The students were excited to give back and are so passionate about their craft and what they do. Art really influences our lives. This mural is just the beginning of a conversation for people who live here.”
Rottman shared that the conversation starts with children. President of Academy of Art University Dr. Elisa Stephens echoed that sentiment.
“This particular mural, given the size of the building, and given how it talks about the history of San Francisco, is even more impactful of the children and the neighborhood of the Tenderloin,” Stephens said.
The Tenderloin neighborhood has so much history and San Francisco District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim commented on how there’s no better way to commemorate the past with art.
“One of the best parts of representing the Tenderloin is the support of the initiatives from residents,” Kim said. “The neighborhood has residents who really care about this area. They’re committed and taking the initiative to make the neighborhood safer and healthier. If we are going to make this neighborhood what we all think it is, we need to all join in.”
Student painter Raquel Lupica said it’s important to let everyone in each neighborhood of San Francisco know they’re cared for.
“I enjoy the diversity panel because of all the different faces,” Lupica said. “We’re excited to bring more beauty to the area.”
The murals serve as homage to two champions of the Tenderloin, Rev. Cecil Williams of Glide Memorial Church and the late Leroy Looper, co-founder of the Tenderloin AIDS Network and an advocate of supportive housing.
The following Academy students participated in the PG&E mural project: Michael Stapleton (Illustration B.F.A.), David Baker (Illustration B.F.A.), Derick Moore (Fine Art B.F.A. graduate, 2013), Kristopher Liwanag (Illustration B.F.A. graduate, 2013), Trinity Holsworth (Fine Art B.F.A. graduate, 2014), Tim Andrews (Illustration B.F.A.), Juan Ruiz (Illustration B.F.A.), Pam Marano (Art Education B.F.A.), Safi Kolozsvari (Fine Art B.F.A.) and Raquel Lupica (Fine Art B.F.A.).
(L–R) Executive Director of the School of Fine Art Dr. Craig Nelson, Fine Art instructor Carol Nunnelly, Michael Stapleton (Illustration B.F.A.), Kristopher Liwanag (Illustration B.F.A. graduate, 2013), Derick Moore (Fine Art B.F.A. graduate, 2013), Trinity Holsworth (Fine Art B.F.A. graduate, 2014), Tim Andrews (Illustration B.F.A.), Juan Ruiz (Illustration B.F.A.), Pam Marano (Art Education B.F.A.), Safi Kolozsvari (Fine Art B.F.A.) and Raquel Lupica (Fine Art B.F.A.). Photo by Bob Toy.