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USF Artist Comforts Market Street

10-29-2009
EgenhoeferSF3Web

Assistant Professor of design Rachel Beth Egenhoefer poses with her exhibit, Comforting Connections, on display on Market Street in San Francisco through the end of November.

Rachel Beth Egenhoefer, assistant professor of design at USF, has stitched San Francisco’s neglected Central Market neighborhood a cozy sweater.

Actually, it’s a hand stitched scale model of the landmark street between 5th and 10th streets, completed with innumerable knit and purl stitches illustrating which storefronts along San Francisco’s main east-west artery are occupied and which have been abandoned or vacated. Loose yarn droops between the stitched buildings of the many-colored art exhibit, illustrating the thousands of commuter connections made in these few blocks of the city each day.

“I think about security blankets or warm sweaters, things that make people comfortable,” said Egenhoefer, who, like so many others, transfers from BART to Muni along that stretch of Market on her commute to USF each day. “In a small way, it’s like knitting a security blanket for Market Street.”

TitledComforting Connections, the stitched model of Market Street is part of a new city-supported pilot program known as Art in Storefronts. The idea is to revive areas of San Francisco that have seen a rapid rise in commercial vacancies as a result of the economic downturn.

“Art in Storefronts harnesses the creativity of San Francisco’s artist community to help improve the quality of life and the business climate in our neighborhood commercial districts,” said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, at the Market Street opening Oct. 23.

Egenhoefer’s exhibit was one of 10 chosen from among 200 to receive funding from the San Francisco Arts Commission. Artists were asked to make their exhibits relevant to each location’s culture and history.

“It’s a unique opportunity and I am really excited to be a part of something new and positive that’s directly in the heart of the city,” Egenhoefer said.

Egenhoefer – who enlisted assistance of USF freshman Mia Johnson, a fine arts major, in constructing the window installation – said the piece both celebrates the spaces that are occupied and invites questions about the empty spaces and what potential they hold.

“I think the Art in Storefronts program is an important project to promote the arts in the city, and to engage community members in discussions not just about art and design but also about their neighborhood, the economy, and their community,” Egenhoefer said.

Egenhoefer’s exhibit, running Oct. 23 to Jan. 31 at 1117/1119 Market St., is one of several installed in the area. Similar exhibits are slated for Taylor Street in the Tenderloin district, Third Street in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood, and 24th Street in the Mission district.

Written by Edward Carpenter »usfnews@usfca.edu