San Francisco Chronicle - - WORLD -

Long be­fore tech giants Face­book, Google, Ap­ple, YouTube and Twitter moved into the Bay Area, the com­mu­nity was im­pacted by giants in a dif­fer­ent field: art. Writ­ers, mu­si­cians, artists, and de­sign­ers have had a long love affair with San Fran­cisco and its sur­round­ing cities, in­flu­enc­ing and driv­ing the cul­ture of the area. Though our world is rapidly be­ing changed by tech­nol­ogy, art still plays an im­por­tant role in our de­vel­op­ment and suc­cess as a com­mu­nity. Art and de­sign of­fer au­di­ences a cre­ative re­flec­tion of the world today, and the work of our artists and de­sign­ers will be the his­tor­i­cal ar­ti­facts of the Bay Area’s fu­ture. While in school, stu­dents at Academy of Art Uni­ver­sity are en­gag­ing with the com­mu­nity, con­tribut­ing their cre­ative ser­vices, and leav­ing a last­ing im­pres­sion on the city and on the Bay Area as a whole. And when they leave school and ven­ture out, the alumni take a lit­tle of what San Fran­cisco has given them to share with the world.

Giv­ing Back: Af­ford­able Hous­ing

Mary Telling, an alumna of the Academy of Art’s School of Ar­chi­tec­ture, has taken her de­sign skills and re­fo­cused them in a sur­pris­ing and im­por­tant new di­rec­tion: af­ford­able hous­ing. Now work­ing as a project designer for af­ford­able hous­ing projects through­out the Bay Area, Telling has ded­i­cated her­self to giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity that she loves. Cur­rently the project ar­chi­tect for 2060 Fol­som, a new af­ford­able hous­ing project fea­tur­ing 127 apart­ment units for fam­i­lies and tran­si­tional-age youth in the Mis­sion Dis­trict, Telling em­braces op­por­tu­ni­ties for com­mu­nity-build­ing among res­i­dents. “Work­ing in af­ford­able hous­ing in San Fran­cisco has changed the way I think as a designer, be­cause I’m think­ing about the ex­pe­ri­ence—how does the ten­ant feel when they’re walk­ing into the space?” Telling said. “It’s not about me any­more. It’s about the com­mu­nity I serve.” 2060 Fol­som will be lo­cated across from a brand new pub­lic park that is now un­der con­struc­tion, which will hope­fully bring the com­mu­nity to­gether, as well as help with neigh­bor­hood beau­ti­fi­ca­tion.

A Beau­ti­ful Legacy: Pub­lic Art

An im­por­tant part of any com­mu­nity is its pub­lic art. It con­nects the peo­ple in a neigh­bor­hood and im­bues out­door spa­ces with some­thing that the res­i­dents can dis­cuss, de­bate, and en­gage with. San Fran­cisco has a well-known legacy of pub­lic art, and today, stu­dents from the Academy of Art’s School of Fine Art and Il­lus­tra­tion are adding to that legacy by cre­at­ing a mu­ral for Same­sun Hos­tel on Franklin Street. Un­der the guid­ance of Fine Art Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Craig Nel­son and in­struc­tor Carol Nun­nelly, the stu­dents are en­rolled in a mu­ral paint­ing class that in prior years has in­stalled mu­rals on many Bar Area land­marks. This year, Xiaolu Lin (MFA, School of Il­lus­tra­tion) cre­ated the win­ning art deco-style de­sign that will show the Ferry Build­ing, Ja­pan Town and other el­e­ments of San Fran­cisco, with graphic im­ages seam­lessly flow­ing through­out the piece. Lin cre­ated the de­sign af­ter think­ing about the­matic con­cepts that link San Fran­cisco to the world around it. Same­sun Hos­tel is thrilled with the choice, and hopes that upon com­ple­tion, the ren­o­vated prop­erty and the mu­ral it­self will con­trib­ute to a more vi­brant neigh­bor­hood. Lo­cated among mostly two- to five-story build­ings along a com­mer­cial cor­ri­dor in the Lower Pa­cific Heights neigh­bor­hood, the Same­sun Hos­tel will of­fer ho­tel rooms in a part of the city close to Cal­i­for­nia Pa­cific Med­i­cal Cen­ter fa­cil­i­ties, al­low­ing med­i­cal per­son­nel and fam­ily mem­bers of pa­tients an af­ford­able op­tion for vis­it­ing.

Rep­re­sent­ing on the Na­tional Stage

Art doesn’t al­ways have to hang on a wall or be painted on the side of a build­ing. Just ask Bran­don Kee, a 2016 BFA menswear de­sign grad­u­ate who was re­cently able to show his work to mil­lions through his par­tic­i­pa­tion on Sea­son 16 of the Life­time series, Project Run­way. Prov­ing him­self early and of­ten, and fin­ish­ing as one of the top four fi­nal­ists, Kee’s fash­ion­able de­signs had a unique point of view that was a winner with mod­els, judges, and au­di­ences. “He has a par­tic­u­lar point of view that has even in­flu­enced other de­sign­ers on the show,” said judge Nina Gar­cia, editor-in-chief of Elle magazine, dur­ing the fi­nale. “That’s what you want from a designer, to in­spire and be a trend set­ter.” This sea­son, the show cel­e­brated body di­ver­sity with mod­els rang­ing from sizes 0 to 22, and Kee’s de­signs main­tained a so­phis­ti­ca­tion and ex­e­cu­tion that won him four chal­lenges dur­ing the show. Kee said that the ex­pe­ri­ence was a true test of his abil­i­ties, and “was re­ally a tes­ta­ment to know­ing who you are as a designer, your taste level, what you’re pick­ing out. It re­ally kind of pushed you to fig­ure out who you are as a designer, and through that process, you find that out rather quickly.” Kee said his Lay­ers of Love col­lec­tion that showed dur­ing New York Fash­ion Week was in­spired by his girl­friend, Dina Marie Lam, an Academy MFA fash­ion de­sign grad­u­ate.

Above and Be­yond: Art in Space

Bran­don Kee is just one ex­am­ple of alumni whose im­pact and in­flu­ence have reached be­yond the Bay Area’s lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. Space it­self will be high­light­ing the art of For­est Stearns, who re­ceived an MFA in Il­lus­tra­tion in 2010. Now work­ing for Planet Labs, Stearns has pro­duced the largest known art show in space. Cre­at­ing art on satel­lites came about af­ter Stearns met Planet Labs co-founder Rob­bie Sch­in­gler at a “Cu­rios­ity Camp” hosted by In­no­va­tion En­deav­ors, a ven­ture cap­i­tal firm. Planet Labs is a pri­vate earth imag­ing com­pany that de­signs and manufactures satel­lites. Stearns was at the camp rep­re­sent­ing artists and de­sign­ers, and af­ter hear­ing Sch­in­gler give a ro­man­tic speech about the fu­ture of aerospace, he had an idea. “Did you know that World War Two bombers had pin-up girls painted on them? Rob­bie, let’s paint on your satel­lites.” For­est Stearns has now cre­ated four years’ worth of art­work for Planet Labs, with art on 95 per­cent of its satel­lites, and now man­ages the artist in res­i­dence pro­gram at Planet Labs. Stearns is lead­ing the charge in mak­ing sure art re­mains rel­e­vant and preva­lent in our tech-fu­eled world. “We’re cre­at­ing a con­ver­sa­tion among Sil­i­con Val­ley artist-in-res­i­dence pro­grams and other pro­grams to fa­cil­i­tate art­work as value added to the com­pany.”

Mak­ing a Dif­fer­ence

With his art more firmly planted on the ground, An­drew Schoultz, who grad­u­ated from Academy of Art with a BFA, re­cently ex­hib­ited 15 hand-painted skate­board decks at The Bricks Ybor in Tampa, Florida. But the prof­its from the show won’t be go­ing back to the artists, like you might ex­pect. In­stead, all pro­ceeds will go to a lo­cal non-profit, Boards for Bros. “I’ve been pay­ing at­ten­tion to what Boards for Bros. has been do­ing for a while. They go into un­der­priv­i­leged ar­eas where there are skate parks, or they’ll set up a mini skate park for a week­end, and they give away boards and hel­mets to those who don’t have them. Right now, skate­board­ing is the new ‘hoop dreams.’ Some of the most tal­ented kids are com­ing from un­der­priv­i­leged ar­eas. Skate­board­ing can re­ally save you, and I think there’s a lot of power and pur­pose in what they’re do­ing,” Schoultz said. As a Cal­i­for­nia skate­boarder for most of his life, Schoultz has ties to the Tampa com­mu­nity through Paul Zitzer, the SkatePark of Tamps (SPoT) Events Op­er­a­tions and Pub­lic Re­la­tions, and Spot owner Brian Schae­fer. Zitzer and Schoultz grew up in the same city, and Schae­fer and Schoultz con­nected at ArtBasel Mi­ami last year. “I’ve been a skate­boarder all my life, but as an artist I’ve emerged into do­ing things all over the world. Skate­board­ing has in­formed ev­ery­thing I’ve done to this point as an artist and a per­son,” Schoultz said. The work of these artists and many more con­tinue to show com­mu­ni­ties through­out the coun­try and the world that art mat­ters. Through mu­rals, fash­ion, hous­ing de­sign, and skate decks, the work of these in­flu­en­tial alumni con­tin­ues to in­spire and im­pact those who come into con­tact with it. They’ve proven that art and de­sign pro­vides grad­u­ates with a mul­ti­tude of ways to en­gage in col­lab­o­ra­tive and truly mean­ing­ful en­deav­ors. To learn more about how you can be­come a part of this new wave of art­ful en­gage­ment, go to www.acade­m­

Academy of Art, Circa 1985

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