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Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Reopens with Renewed Purpose

Multidisciplinary artist Tosha Stimage works on one of her 21 “Infinite Center, infinite sun” pieces on Yerba Buena Garden’s lawn.
Multidisciplinary artist Tosha Stimage works on one of her 21 “Infinite Center, infinite sun” pieces on Yerba Buena Garden’s lawn.
By Cicero A. Estrella

The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is stepping out to showcase art that’s perfect for our social-distancing times.

The center announced its reopening with a pair of outdoor exhibits, as well as an online event celebrating San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood.

The works are part of YBCA’s new emphasis on “supporting artists who are igniting public discourse, inspiring action, and leading change.”

“YBCA is OPEN, and we are doing OPEN differently,” CEO Deborah Cullinan wrote. “We invite our community to join us on our journey to radically reinvent what it means to be a center for artists and the public to build a more just and equitable future.”

Urgent Arts’ four members take on the first iteration of Caleb Duarte’s architectural intervention features painted interpretations of Maya textiles and embroideries that decorate Mayan traditional wear. Their contribution expresses the growing visibility of Central American Indigenous presences in the Bay Area.

On Indigenous People Day on Oct. 12, artist Caleb Duarte began work on “The Monument as Living Memory.” Duarte, in collaboration with Bay Area artists and collectives, will transform a larger-than-life board at the center’s 701 Mission Street Plaza over an 18-week span. They will continually revise the board every two weeks until its completion in mid-February.

The work is inspired by the art created on boarded-up businesses during the COVID-19 economic shutdown, and will illustrate the “closure, dismantling, and restructuring of institutions, the toppling of monuments, and the uprising of a palpable collective spirit across our country.”

Already in place at Yerba Buena Garden’s lawn is “Infinite Center, infinite sun,” which consists of 21 12-foot “explosions of color” by multidisciplinary artist and educator Tosha Stimage. The art serves as the first installment of the Lawn Art Project.

Multidisciplinary artist Tosha Stimage works on one of her 21 “Infinite Center, infinite sun” pieces on Yerba Buena Garden’s lawn.
The painting of “Infinite Center, infinite sun”.

Former YBCA fellow Stimage stenciled the art onto the lawn with grass-safe paint that will fade with the natural growth of the grass.

“The design can be interpreted a number of ways — that’s always the intention,” she said. “The image is just a symbol, where there ceases to be a point. It is the suggestion of infinite love radiating from each center, in a mutually shared space.”

On Oct. 17, YBCA will present “City Is Alive,” an online broadcast of BayviewLIVE, the only festival in San Francisco dedicated to urban arts and culture.

The celebration of the Bayview-Hunter’s Point’s art and artists will include performances by rap artists Footz da Beast, LB, RobWoods, Xpress, and will feature the neighborhood’s signature murals.

701 Mission St., 415.978.2700, ybca.org

Photos by Tommy Lau

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