A Visual Celebration in San Francisco’s Changing Mid-Market Neighborhood

The 'Let There Be' art installation, near 6th and Market streets in San Francisco. (Cy Musiker/KQED)
The “Let There Be” art installation, near Sixth and Market streets in San Francisco. (Cy Musiker/KQED)

A new public art piece debuted Thursday evening on San Francisco’s Market Street. It’s called “Let There Be” and, for the moment at least, it features a series of photographs by Bay Area artists projected onto the east wall of the recently renovated home of Zendesk.

Ben Davis runs Illuminate the Arts, the nonprofit that raised funds for “The Bay Lights,” the Leo Villareal light sculpture on the western span of the Bay Bridge. He says he designed this new piece as a way to celebrate the neighborhood’s past, present and hoped-for future.

“I think it’s about letting the innate energy of Market Street reveal itself,” Davis said, “If you look at the rich history of the street, it has always performed a really important cultural and creative role in our community.”

I talked to Davis Wednesday night as we watched a test run of “Let There Be” from the offices of music-streaming service Spotify, just across Market Street.

Zendesk and Spotify, along with Twitter’s headquarters just up the street and a host of major new residential developments, are transforming a neighborhood that’s been an affordable haven for artists.

“It’s important to find a way to unleash that creativity, and put a marker down again.” Davis said. “At the same time respecting absolutely everyone who’s here. This is not about asking anyone to leave. This is about encouraging more people to come.”

Davis and his team raised $60,000 for “Let There Be” from what Davis calls anonymous donors. He says the project will open with contemporary and historical images of Market Street taken or collected by local photographer Mark Ellinger . They’ll be interspersed with images or videos by artists showing their work at neighborhood galleries, including SF Camerawork, the Luggage Gallery and the Yerba Buena Center For the Arts.

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Author

Cyrus Musiker

Cyrus Musiker co-hosts The Do List and covers arts and politics for KQED News and The California Report.  His work has been recognized by the Society for Professional Journalists with their Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service in Journalism. Cy is a graduate of Hampshire College, and has a Masters in Journalism from UC Berkeley. He worked in the wine business in New York City and Napa Valley for almost a decade before he found his true calling as a radio newsman. When he can find time, Cy loves to run in the East Bay Hills with his dog, swim in Tomales Bay, and hike in the Sierra.

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