Chainlink Fence Art Installation Unites Neighbors Working to Rebuild

Completed installation on Mission Street last week. Photo: The artist via CurbedSF

Last week, a new art installation appeared on the chain-link fence that spans the vacant Mission Street lot near 29th Street where Cole Hardware stood before the 2016 fire.

Brock Keeling at CurbedSF got the scoop:

Almost one year after his “Home Street Home” piece appeared along beleaguered Division Street, a local artist, who has requested anonymity, has completed another work. Once again he uses a chainlink fence for a canvas, but this time the message is different. In fact, it’s incomplete, which is exactly how he wants it.

“Given the history of the neighborhood, the fire, loss, and the displacement of so many residents, it felt appropriate to use the quote, but to not finish it,” says the artist. “This leaves the meaning open to interpretation. Each person will fill in the blank on their own.”

Members from Galería de la Raza and Secession Art and Design helped tie the final product together.

Neighbor Eden Stein from Secession Art and Design was part of the team that helped install the piece, and when Bernalwood spoke to her last week, her face was still sunburned from a day spent attaching little flags to the fence.

Neighbor Eden said working on the project had been a powerful and uplifting experience, so we asked her to tell us about it. Here’s Neighbor Eden’s story about the making of the chain-link art installation:

My passion is running Secession Art & Design and also being President of the Mission Bernal Merchants Association. This is my home and community.

One year ago, I did not know all of the merchants of the 3300 Block where the fire occurred, and now we are family. Something happens when you go through a hardship together, like a fire, and all you want to do is help. For this past year I have fundraised, listened, supported, done advocacy to connect merchants with city agencies, and been someone that the merchants can depend on when they can’t get an answer.

This past year I have gotten to know the owners of Playa Azul, Cole Hardware, El Grand Taco Loco, and the 3300 Club. My co-corridor coordinator, Ani Rivera, joined the MBMA team this year and we were so excited to get a small grant to do a temporary beautification project on the Playa Azul and Cole Hardware fence. Ani is the director of Galleria De la Raza and lives in Mission Bernal.

Playa Azul is going through the planning process to rebuild, and they wanted a facade to let people know they are coming back. Urban quilt artist, Amy Ahlstrom met with the Sanchez family to create a coming soon sign. She photographed the mother and daughter, and the family gave us a photo of their grandmother; three strong women that are determined to rebuild the restaurant. The sign is based on their exterior sign that was one of the only things left after the fire.

Unfortunately, not even 24 hours after installing the Playa Azul sign, somebody painted over it with house paint, along with graffiti on the 3300 building.

But this artwork is not graffiti. This is an approved project by the city and property owners of Playa Azul. This is public art. A new panel has been ordered and will replace the damaged panel.

A local artist came up with the design for The Cole Hardware fence: 2000 plastic pieces make up the lettering that reads from across the street, or passing by on the bus, THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE…. You get to fill in the blank. Home? Cole Hardware? Whatever is special to you?

So many merchants and residents lost their businesses and homes. Where did they go? This really changed our community, and we hope they can come back. During the install, everyone who walked by had a story to tell about what they needed from Cole.

I could barely sleep on Tuesday night in anticipation of these art installations going up on Wednesday. I woke up early to help install. A beautiful crew from Galleria De Raza Gallery on 24th Street volunteered and we had a great time talking and installing. We even had a few people passing by that took time from their day to stop and help.

All day long the community came out and talked about how much they missed this block and all the merchants. Three people were brought to tears knowing that Playa Azul was actually coming back. A women slammed on her breaks, double parked, and gave me a hug. This project is about bringing people together, and a message that the people and merchants that make this neighborhood are on our mind and we are right by their side as they rebuild.

El Paisa is the first business closed by the fire to reopen on the block. At one point in the day the owner, Jose told all of us installing it was time to take a break and eat. We sat in his restaurant that is filled with so much love and persistence and had an incredible lunch that meant much more than food.

Thank you to everyone who made this day happen!

XO Eden

PHOTOS: Top, courtesy of the artist. Below, process photos courtesy of Eden Stein.

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