Monday, April 21, 2014

Weekly Article Review by Jennifer Hart

Jennifer has been experiencing some computer issues...she has sent me her article review and I'm posting it on her behalf. Thanks Jennifer! - Hannah

Art, community spirit merge in project under a freeway
Sam Whiting
Updated 4:40 pm, Friday, April 18, 2014

Since I have spent close to four years commuting from my home in Palo Alto to my job in downtown San Francisco, this article grabbed my attention right away. My daily drive on highway 280 and 101 was filled with angry drivers, stagnant traffic and ugly cement covered medians. I was thrilled to learn that The Alemany Island Project, coordinated by the Portola Neighborhood Association and financed through a Community Challenge Grant, collaborated with the public to beautify San Francisco's commuter landscape.  This three-part installation began with a teenage painter named Cory Ferris.  His inked flora design painted on a highway 101 support pillar inspired community members, commuters and college students of all ages and backgrounds. There was so much positive feedback from Cory's audience that the second part of the installation enlisted the help of a City College Horticulture class.  These students designed and planted a native garden in the island around Cory's painted pillar.  The third part of the installation gave Portola community members an opportunity to enhance their cultural surroundings by painting their own scenes across the entire Cal Trains fence.  Some of the participants were professional artists and some of the participants had little to no art experience at all.  Regardless of skill level, participants had a lot of fun working together to create something beautiful and aesthetically pleasing. Thanks to public art projects like this one, the sound of honking horns and angry drivers can be drowned out and replaced with vibrant colors and beautifully painted scenery. I just wish they started this project years ago, it would have made my commute a lot more calming and enjoyable! 


  1. This makes me think about the freeway noise cancelling walls on highway I-80, mostly through the spaghetti bowl between downtown Reno and Sparks. I remember when the walls were covered with graffiti-paint over squares and perhaps a design of a horizontal zigzag in the brick. Now it's been repainted and has protruded metal art of quail and fish in a flow that is pleasing to the drivers passing by on the freeway. The over-passes in the downtown area have been re-freshened with new tan paint, continuing the theme and palette of the walls further East that I just mentioned. Seeing these photos of the paintings that the locals painted is really wonderful and vibrant. My only comment or concern would revolve around the rotation of the paintings. I think that because they're mobile or not permanent, attached to the fence, they would become noticed and more dynamic if rotated or interchanged with new ones each year or few years. Overall, I think this is a great idea, I also hope they won't become vandalized.

  2. This is a well written article, the author did an excellent job explaining the backstory of the project. Not only did the project bring beautiful paintings to a baron fence, but it also got members of the community involved with making art. It is fascinating to hear about how people fell in love with painting because of this project. Any project that can have so much impact on the community while also telling the peoples' stories is the exact kind if project that needs to be replicated across the world.

  3. I like this article because it is a perfect example of public art. The project is awesome for bringing art to a spot where there is no art. there are a lot of people that will be able to see the paintings. People from every profession can appreciate art, and now they will be able to see it on there way to work. The project is good because it is inspired by the local people and they also helped create it. Overall the project was a major success, and people get to see the art while they wait in trafic.

  4. I really like street art. It's a whole different atmosphere when art is shown on the sides of old buildings or under a dark bridge compared to in a white walled gallery. The environment has a big effect on the piece and the viewer. I like seeing spray paint art. It brings to life dark rundown surfaces. It can bring some color to a dull cement city. Especially to a boring freeway. I hope that traffic isn't flying past this spot of the highway otherwise that can't take the time to see it. either way I think that it is a cool thing that they did that. I would like to see this done more in the cities where a lot of people are walking. I think that it would have a bigger impact if it was in a city. My friend Jesse who paints at SNC is a spray paint artist. This is right up his alley. I know that he has lots of jobs painting on the sides of buildings. He should get involved in this, or he probably already is.

  5. I really love how communities are coming together to promote and be a part of public art. I think its amazing that people are putting an effort into making where they live a better place through interactive art. Letting the people be a part of what is going on in their town makes for less frustration later on if someone is unhappy about what is placed in the community. I appreciate public art projects that are inspiring to everyone around them. It not only lets people in the town be a part of the action, it lets outsiders driving though have access to art works of all kinds. Its like in Seattle, some of the most famous attractions art street art and sculptures, such as the troll bridge. I'm all for everything public art offers a community and think this project is absolutely great!