Bernal Heights is an interesting place to spend time, in no small part because the neighborhood rewards sustained attention in both micro and macro modes. That is, there’s a lot to notice both when you zoom in on street-level details here, or when you go big to take in the panoramic vistas.
Case in point: There’s a new mural emerging on the horizon to the east of Bernal Hill. It’s taking shape on the side of that giant, derelict grain silo near the bay, and as you can see above, Bernalwood contributor Joe Thomas has been tracking its progress from his high-altitude observation post on Bernal’s east slope.
Big mural! But how? And why?
The silos themselves were built in 1918, but they’ve been dormant since the 1989 earthquake. The Port of San Francisco offers this rendering of how the finished mural will look:
The Port also provides a terrific project description:
Bayview Rise, an illuminated mural for Port Pier 92, weaves together iconic imagery reflecting the Bayview neighborhood’s changing economy, ecology, and community. Its large-scale graphics will make its primary images visible from a distance, while views up close will reveal the abstract patterns from which those images are composed. The artwork is conceived as a gateway into Bayview Hunters Point and will be visible and changing from day to night.
The mural is designed by artists Laura Hadadd and Tom Drugan. The mural’s graphic imagery is rooted in the Bayview’s historic and future conditions, but with an emphasis on elements that float, fly, and rise. The composition creates a spatial illusion in which elements appear to rise up and out from a horizon where water meets land and sky.
Grounding the image is a bottom layer of water, representing both the San Francisco Bay and the past marshlands of Islais Creek. Submerged in the water, as a symbol of the neighborhood’s past, is a reference to historic Butchertown. The primary icon rising from the horizon line is a soaring heron, which ties to nearby Heron’s Head Park, a successful environmental restoration by the Port. Other imagery represented in the artwork include native cherry plants, shorebirds, and a reference to a quote by community activist Essie Webb who likened Hunters Point to a balloon waiting to be re-inflated. Because so many individual Bayview heroes came to light in the research process, it was impossible to represent just a few and seemed more appropriate to honor all of them with a concept they might all believe in, that of “rise.” The images within the mural have been combined, overlapped, and juxtaposed in a triangular matrix so there appear to be metamorphoses between cherries and balloons, water and birds, land and leaves.
At night colored lights will cycle through the colors red, green, and blue, on both the façade and the adjacent silos. Every night the lighting schedule will vary, so that the art is dynamic and always changing its appearance. The lights will cause the mural imagery to change its appearance with changing light colors. An individual light color will cause parts of the mural of that same color to be highlighted while other colors recede into the dark background. As the light colors shift, images will appear to float in and out of the scene. This striking effect will result in the appearance of an animated graphic abstractly representing a neighborhood in transformation, Bayview Rising.
Impressive! Oh, and that bit about using illumination to highlight or hide various colors in the mural at night? Here’s how that’s going to look:
Badass! Happily, Bernal will enjoy a superb view.
PHOTOS: Top, Joe Thomas. Below, Port of San Francisco. Special thanks to Norman Weinfield for the tip.