Hidden garden steps-overview


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This presentation, prepared by Hidden Garden Steps organizing committee co-chair Paul Signorelli for project artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutchers presentation at the San Francisco Public Library (March 28, 2011) provides an overview of the Hidden Garden Steps project in San Francisco's Inner Sunset Distric and reviews the Moraga Steps project in the same neighborhood.

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  • This “Building Ceramic-Tile Stairways in the Inner Sunset” PowerPoint slide deck was prepared by Hidden Garden Steps (http://hiddengardensteps.org) organizing committee co-chair Paul Signorelli for project artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher’s presentation at the Sunset Branch Library in San Francisco on March 28, 2011. Speaker notes included with this presentation were added later by Paul to provide an introduction to the development of the Hidden Garden Steps project.
  • San Francisco’s Inner Sunset District, on the western side of the city directly south of Golden Gate Park, has well over a dozen cement staircases connecting city streets and offering splendid views to those who climb and descend them.
  • “ In 2002, Jessie Audette, a new arrival to the city, took to climbing [the] steps [on Moraga Street, between 15 th and 16 th avenues] for daily exercise….In Rio, she’d discovered the Santa Teresa steps, a monument to the single-minded obsession of Chilean artist Jorge Selaron,” Colette Crutcher and Aileen Barr report in their book, “163: The Story of San Francisco’s 16 th Avenue Tiled Steps.” “She imagined a group of eager neighbors, happily cementing tiles to the steps, as Selaron had done.”
  • Caltagirone, Sicily—a ceramics center which also has tiled steps—plays a part in the story of the Moraga tiled steps in that Caltagirone is a sister city to San Francisco, and its mayor attended the public inauguration of the Moraga Steps on August 27, 2005.
  • Jessie (left) eventually met Alice Yee Xavier, who lives at the foot of the Moraga Steps, and the two of them became the unstoppable moving force behind organizing and bringing this Inner Sunset District landmark to fruition with the participation of project artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher—and numerous other supporters.
  • Barr (left) and Crutcher (right) used Barr’s studio in the Mission district to manufacture the small ceramic tiles which are an integral part of the design. The much larger mosaic pieces were created in Crutcher’s studio.
  • Volunteers were involved throughout the process in numerous ways, including their participation in three hands-on workshops before the completed work was installed on site.
  • “ As the venture gained momentum, its special character became evident,” Crutcher and Barr write in their book. “Each name tile had its story. Some were purchased to commemorate a wedding (one occurred on the steps themselves, before completion of the project), others to memorialize a death….Five tiles were sponsored by an Italian-American family that originally came across the country in covered wagons.”
  • The original project continues to attract visitors from all over the world, and is a much treasured neighborhood community meeting place.
  • A fifth anniversary celebration organized by Alice gave attendees a chance to acknowledge how much the project continues to mean to all who see it—and created an opportunity for an additional celebration as members of a new organizing committee announced that they were about to move forward with a complementary project, featuring the same artists, on a set of steps just two blocks north of the original site—the Hidden Garden Steps project.
  • The picture says it all: the goal is to transform an overgrown, graffiti-tagged set of stairs into a ceramic-tiled staircase with gardens on either side and a mural on a wall near the top of the steps. The Steps design features a variety of California native plants—as will the gardens and murals—and arrangements have been made to incorporate cuttings from the Moraga Steps project to create yet another connection between the two sets of steps and gardens. Discussions are also underway to incorporate a Green Hairstreak Butterfly corridor into the plantings to support Nature in the City’s efforts on behalf of this endangered native that has only three remaining remnant habitats within the city ( http://natureinthecity.org/gh.php ).
  • One of the many goals is to free the area of the graffiti which has been a problem there for years. Efforts to coordinate structural repairs are also in the works.
  • Attracting qualified volunteers willing to trim trees and remove overgrown vegetation to bring more natural light to the area will contribute to an overall project goal of creating another community gathering place while strengthening the existing sense of community that exists in the Inner Sunset District.
  • A core group of organizing committee members began meeting in February 2010 and, after taking nearly a year to create the infrastructure and gaining support from a variety of sources including the San Francisco Parks Trust (serving as project fiscal agent), began raising funds for the $300,000 project in December 2010. Clockwise, from top right: Shamsi Soltani, Karen Engle, Liz McLoughlin (middle photograph), Paul Signorelli and Gilbert Johnson, and Licia Wells (right side of picture in upper left-hand corner).
  • These six slides show Barr and Crutcher’s original drawing for the project.
  • Individual large tile elements are available to project sponsors at prices ranging from $5,000 - $15,000, and offer groups an opportunity to pool their resources to support completion of the project. (More information is available at http://hiddengardensteps.org/Table_elements.html .)
  • Smaller individual tiles, with limited space for donors’ names or tributes, are also available. (For more information, please visit http://hiddengardensteps.org/Table_tiles.html .)
  • Volunteers supporting the project are already showing a great deal of creativity in finding ways to raise funds for the Hidden Garden Steps. Sherry Boschert, for example, created a two-minute video and posted in on Kickstarter.com to raise funds for the Diablo Fairy Lantern element (in recognition of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender—GLBT--residents of the Sunset District who live near both sets of steps). Sherry’s playful approach to this effort is visible in her rhetorical questions: “Why the Fairy Lantern? (I don't really have to explain that, do I?)” The posting attracted more than $700 toward a $5,500 goal during the first 24 hours it was visible online, and Sherry has offered to show other interested groups how to make similar efforts in support of the Hidden Garden Steps project.
  • Local merchants are also taking an interest in the project. Crepevine owner Majed Fakouri, at no cost to the project, hosted the first of the events designed to create more awareness, attract more funding, and engage volunteers as quickly as possible to complete the Steps, the gardens, and the mural. More than $6,000 in donations and pledges were made during this 90-minute reception on March 8, 2011.
  • Hidden Garden Steps continues to very much be a community-building effort operating face-to-face and online. Those interested in keeping up with the project’s progress can follow it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Wordpress blogs.
  • Project information is also available on the Hidden Garden Steps website at http://hiddengardensteps.org .
  • Hidden garden steps-overview

    1. 1. Building Ceramic-tile Stairways in the Inner Sunset Slides and Speaker Notes by Paul Signorelli For Aileen Barr & Colette Crutcher’s Presentation at The Sunset Branch Library, San Francisco 28 March 2011
    2. 2. Raw materials
    3. 3. Inspiration: Santa Teresa, brazil
    4. 4. Inspiration: caltagirone, italy
    5. 5. Inspired to act
    6. 6. First steps
    7. 7. The community at work
    8. 8. tile by tile
    9. 9. Recording a community
    10. 10. success
    11. 11. celebration
    12. 12. continuity
    13. 13. The challenge (1)
    14. 14. The challenge (2)
    15. 16. The plan, piece by piece (1)
    16. 17. The plan, piece by piece (2)
    17. 18. The plan, piece by piece (3)
    18. 19. The plan, piece by piece (4)
    19. 20. The plan, piece by piece (5)
    20. 21. The plan, piece by piece (6)
    21. 22. elements
    22. 23. Individual tiles
    23. 24. Community support: Diablo fairy lantern
    24. 25. Community outreach: reception at crepevine
    25. 26. Community outreach: Online
    26. 27. For more Information http:hiddengardensteps.org
    27. 28. Artists’ Contact information http://www.aileenbarr.com/ http://www.colettecrutcher.com/
    28. 29. Credits (All images taken from hiddengardensteps.org and http://www.tiledsteps.org/OtherTiledSteps/ unless otherwise noted): undeveloped steps from http://www.sanfranciscodays.com/golden-gate-heights/ santa teresa Steps: from rocco lucia’s flickr photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/meyer_family/1276124/sizes/m/in/photostream/ Caltagirone Steps with People: from brka’s flickr photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/brka/2272361000/sizes/m/in/photostream/ Caltagirone Steps withcandles: from meyer family’s flickr photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/meyer_family/1276124/sizes/m/in/photostream/ Photos of structural damage : hidden garden steps organizing committee co-chair liz mcloughlin Slide presentation prepared by Hidden Garden Steps organizing committee co-chair Paul Signorelli