Say Hello to the Proposed Design for the Bernal Library Mural

Library Mural Proposal

Library Mural Proposal

If you think the debate currently taking place in Washington DC over raising the federal debt ceiling is a sticky bit of politics, you’ll no doubt enjoy catching up on the latest details of the plan to paint a new mural on the facade of the Bernal Heights Branch of the San Francisco Public Library on Cortland.

Just in case you need a reminder, here’s how the current mural looks — it was painted in 1982:

Library Mural

Ambassador Darcy Lee from Heartfelt on Cortland has been working on the new mural effort, and she sent Bernalwood this honest and (yes) heartfelt project status report:

I am a proud member of the task force working on the Bernal Library Art Project.  I have a tendency to focus on what we have accomplished, so here goes:

We had a divided neighborhood. Some felt the library should not be painted at all, and should be unadorned–  as it was when it was built as a WPA project.   Others felt that the existing mural represented many important issues and was a constant reminder of what is important within San Francisco.  They wanted it to be restored and remain.  A group of us got together to discuss and talk through all the issue. We fought through some truths, some conceptions, and some very passionate feelings.

Bernal resident Beth Roy guided us through this arduous process with skill and aplomb — It was quite remarkable. In the end, the decision was made to put new artwork on parts of the library.  Huge thanks to the city, Mayor Lee, Supervisor Campos, the Arts Commission, and the Library Commission for their help.

We decided to stay on course as a volunteer group, but we needed a project manager.  We had two (very small) fundraisers that raised enough to get us started. Gia Grant was chosen to manage the effort, and her experience and clear-headed expertise has been a boon!  We took input from two community meetings,  chose two artists, and approved artwork for the Cortland (front) and Moultrie facades.

I believe the chosen artwork addresses all our needs and desires.  Actual work will begin this summer.  We are planning a big fundraiser with renowned cellist Joan Jeanrenaud on August 6th.  Remember: We are lucky to be here and nothing is simple!

Well said. Lots more detail at the Bernal Library Art Project website. You can read the project’s Statement of Consensus right here (pdf). You can also read the digest of public comments about the mural submitted via the project email address at bernallibraryartproject@gmail.com. (Executive Summary: 19 positives, 34 negatives, 7 confused and/or off-topic.)

Meanwhile, the mural is on the agenda for the City Library Commission meeting that will take place TOMORROW, Thursday, July 21, 2011, at 4:30 pm in the Koret Auditorium of the Main Library (lower level). Be there if you have something you really really really really really want to say.

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29 Responses to Say Hello to the Proposed Design for the Bernal Library Mural

  1. Yatima says:

    I think it’s gorgeous.

    • johnny0 says:

      Ditto. Love it.

    • Jan says:

      Top 10 Reasons Why the Library Mural is so Difficult:

      10. The ‘community consensus’ wasn’t by the community, but by the individuals negotiating it.

      9. This is really hard: pooling all these passionate egos onto a 2-dimensional surface.

      8. Mayor Lee had little to do with the mediation; Supervisor Campos a lot.

      7. The design looks more like an illustration, not art.

      6. It’s a futile effort to display all the elements that represent the diversity of the neighborhood, as oppsosed to an artful abstraction of diversity and unity itself.

      5. Change happens. Why cling to something from the past and try to reproduce it?

      4. The more we ask people for their imput, the more they will be upset when their suggestion is not fully reflected in the output.

      3. We may end up not finding our lives being part of the mural. Let’s be honest, how much is the library part of our lives?

      2. Remember when murals were a sign of times, done by artists overnight without permission, without a quarter million dollar budget?

      1. ‘Design by committee’ has never been a good idea.

  2. P says:

    oh good, the library has a tramp stamp.

  3. Frank P says:

    OK I’ll say it. Why in hell does that classy, beautiful building need any type of mural on it? Good analogy to a ‘tramp stamp’. Good idea at the time then looks like shit later.

  4. Bh lovr says:

    The idea of a mural on a beautiful, historical building is truly disgraceful.

  5. ghr says:

    Gotta echo Frank P here. I bet most people in the neighborhood would prefer the unadorned building. It looks great all by itself.

    Murals are for old and run down buildings and neighborhoods.

  6. Lee says:

    It says nothing to me about my life.

  7. Derek says:

    Better than the original but still pretty cheesy. The library is probably the nicest building in Bernal and it seems fine without yet another committee-designed mural of Cesar Chavez or whatever that is.

  8. Mark Taylor says:

    Agree with all the comments about the library not needing a mural. (Tramp stamp: perfect analogy, P!”)

  9. Julian says:

    That looks like it’s going to be beautiful!
    Not sure why people would prefer blank walls.
    Perhaps to match their blank lives?

  10. Dixter says:

    The building is a beauty. It does not need more tattoos to fade and be fought over.

  11. Frank P says:

    One of the murals shows a Mexican pyramid (?). Closest one, I believe, is near Puebla, a cozy 2200 miles from the library. WTF? Those folks never even made it close to northern Mexico let alone Cortland Ave. If anything, celebrate the local Indians at least.

  12. Leave it alone. It makes no sense to replace something that has such great history and meaning. How truly out of touch with the community can these people be? Who cares about coming to a consensus. When it comes to vintage art, leave it alone.

  13. J says:

    no mural?? seriously? Did you read the letter from Darcy? The concerns posted were mentioned and the process to come up with the project was inspirational.

    i think it will be beautiful and awesome! I walk by it the library every day and i cant wait to see the new mural!

    the fundraiser with Joan Jeanrenaud will be an amazing event, seriously there will not be better music played on the west coast that evening.

  14. Michael says:

    an exceedingly difficult job to take on, very deftly done in the circumstances. Congratulations!

  15. ugh says:

    First, a little complaining…let’s stop pretending that the large number of Bernal folks who did NOT want a mural, including many of the people who actually work in the library, were ever truly represented in this process. A small but very outspoken group of people pushed a mural through during the great recession when the money could have been spent on much more important projects than defacing a great WPA building. This was a classic SF example of the squeaky wheel getting the grease, or, in this case, the mural, with support from Supervisor Campos, who wisely knew better than to waste political capital on such a trivial matter.

    Having said that, I’m actually relieved that the mural design isn’t bigger and gaudier. I guess it does sort of look like a tramp stamp, but it could be a much larger tramp stamp. After several decades in SF I’ve learned to appreciate small victories in these standoffs. It could be much worse. And much bigger and uglier. Hell, it could have been as big and bad as the old mural. So please, please please let it stop here. I get the sense the committee wants more “art” on the building. You’ve acknowledged that many are opposed to any mural, so don’t try to raise more money to splash more paint on the building. Stop the madness.

    And Lee, nice Smiths reference. I wonder what Morrissey would think of the mural. “I’m so tired/I’m so sick and tired/And I’m feeling very sick and ill today.”

    • Rose Liggett says:

      Despite the art project committee’s hope that Bernal residents would approve of the
      proposed artwork for the library, many people obviously emphatically do not! It is appreciated that Darcy Lee’s statement is “hearfelt”, but it also glosses over some inconvenient facts: the consensus committee was chosen by just two people (David Campos and Beth Roy), it was heavily weighted with BHNC folks and included the
      director of Precita Eyes both of which advocated for years the repainting of the murals –
      as is. The convoluted consensus statement was presented to but not approved of by the community (this is it, like it or not) nor were the artwork designs presented for approval (like it or not).The artproject-by-committee is moving forward under the know-how of David Campos and the paid professional project manager – who is not believed to be a Bernal resident, Also now Friends of the Library is co-sponsoring the fundraiser (with Joan Jeanenaud) – after years of saying during their fundraising that the exterior of the building was not their concern. A veritable bandwagon is in progress which will result in inferior unncessary artwork on our WPA library – unless folks get up and say NO to the arts commission, to the artcommittee, to David Campos, Friends, etc.Or else? As much as Darcy is appreciated, her statement,” I believe the chosen artwork addresses all our needs and desires” is certainly not one that can possibly be agreed with.

  16. lm says:

    The building is so beautiful on its own. I find it so sad that this community is defacing it with an ugly mural. When the library was undergoing renovation I was so hoping that part of the renovation would include bringing the library back to its original beauty inside and outside. Its really a shame. The committee seems to be lacking an appreciation for architecture.

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  21. jo says:

    this building is city property and as for the history that was painted over to-day great job, this thing was a fukin eye sore good riddance boo hoo this is the 21 first century ,move on

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