Excelsior Action Group’s Three Year Public Art Project Honors Community’s History
(San Francisco – October 29, 2013) On Friday, November 1, the Excelsior community will join together at the site of the Ever Upward sculpture, the neighborhood’s first, for an unveiling ceremony. In Latin, the word “Excelsior” means “Ever Upward.” Driven by passionate community members, visionary local artists, and a committed nonprofit, the Excelsior Action Group, the Ever Upward project installed a sculpture at the corner of Geneva Avenue and Mission Street to mark the southern gateway to San Francisco’s Excelsior neighborhood. Ever Upward was conceived through a community design process led by Excelsior artists Isis Rodriguez and Jason Gilmore that included over 200 local participants. Standing 14-feet tall, the forged metal flame atop the mosaic column was erected in honor of the neighborhood’s long tradition of immigrants and working class families who endeavor to raise themselves ever upward.
The concept of the Ever Upward project first arose during the 2009 Excelsior Art Summit, at which over 50 local artists of all ages and mediums convened with community stakeholders to dialogue about projects for the neighborhood. Artists called for a project to mark the gateways to the Excelsior Community, most notably our bustling southern gateway at the intersection of Geneva Avenue and Mission Street. Over the past few years the Excelsior Action Group has executed earlier phases of the gateway project, including a garden and mosaic installation at Geneva and Mission in 2009 and a mural spanning the 280 overpass at the neighborhood’s northern extremity in 2010. In 2012, the Excelsior Action Group received a Community Challenge Grant from the City of San Francisco to begin a robust community design process and install a piece of public art at the southern gateway. Over the course of six public meetings with the help of over 200 community members, the design concept for Ever Upward was born. The most salient ideas that came from our community process described the Excelsior neighborhood as a landing point for immigrants and working class families who strive to raise themselves ever upward.
A tremendously talented and dedicated project team has organized to bring this project to life. Isis Rodriguez, an award-winning international artist based in San Francisco’s Excelsior district, designed the metal sculpture. Jason Gilmore, a local artist and educator who has worked on murals in the Excelsior, designed and helped to construct the mosaic for the column. Aurelio Lofaro, an Italian master blacksmith of Old World Ironworks fabricated the metal sculpture. An extremely dedicated team of local volunteers lead by Grace D’Anca and Deborah LeDet committed almost every Saturday from March to October 2013 to create the mosaic panels. Suaro Cervantes, master grouter and associate of Precita Eyes, led a team of volunteers to install the mosaic designs on the sculpture’s column. The Excelsior Action Group, a neighborhood nonprofit organization, managed the project under the leadership of Corridor Manager and Excelsior native, Nicole Jesslyn Agbayani. Project funders included the S.F. Community Challenge Grant program, District 11 Supervisor John Avalos, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, the San Francisco Foundation, the Max and Anna Levinson Foundation, the Jewish Home of San Francisco, and many local businesses and resident donors. Finally, hundreds of Excelsior community members have dedicated their ideas, energy, and time to move this project forward.
Please join us Friday, November 1, 2013 at 5:00 PM at the site of Ever Upward as we unveil and celebrate this incredible piece of community art work. It will truly be a proud moment in our neighborhood’s history!
Join us at the Ever Upward Unveiling!
Friday, November 1, 2013
5:00 pm – 5:30 pm
5098 Mission Street (corner of Geneva and Mission), San Francisco, CA 94112
Followed up community celebration at Rincon Latino, 5080 Mission Street, 5:30 – 7:30 pm