$1.45 mil­lion, 8-ton sculp­ture ready for Moscone Cen­ter.

Chris­tine Cor­day’s work adds to a block of pub­lic art

San Francisco Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - By Sam Whit­ing

When Chris­tine Cor­day was named a fi­nal­ist in the pub­lic art com­pe­ti­tion for the Moscone Cen­ter ex­pan­sion, she did not have the six months that the other two fi­nal­ists were given, and she did not even have the op­por­tu­nity to visit the site, near the corner of Fourth and Howard streets.

What she had was two weeks to come up with a fi­nal de­sign, and she was glad to have it, be­cause she had fin­ished fourth out of 400 ap­pli­cants and was moved up to the fi­nal three only when an­other fi­nal­ist dropped out.

The tim­ing worked to Cor­day’s fa­vor be­cause she did not have the lux­ury of over­think­ing it. In her stu­dio, in the Hud­son River Val­ley of New York, she as­sem­bled a team of en­gi­neers and fab­ri­ca­tors, and just ahead of the con­test dead­line she flew west with a 30pound stain­less steel pro­to­type as her carry-on lug­gage.

That 1-foot pro­to­type won the com­pe­ti­tion, and the en­su­ing 30-foot-tall, 8-ton cres­cent moon of stain­less steel is now the largest free­stand­ing sculp-

ture in the Moscone Cen­ter com­pound. Ti­tled “Ge­ne­ses,” the $1.45 mil­lion arc is the fo­cal point of the $551 mil­lion Moscone Cen­ter ex­pan­sion that opens Thurs­day, Jan. 3.

“It was un-fussed and direct to my ini­tial idea,” says Cor­day, 48, who will be here for Thurs­day morn­ing’s open­ing cer­e­mony to be presided over by Mayor Lon­don Breed.

“Ge­ne­ses” is the San Fran­cisco pre­miere for Cor­day, but she did not win the com­pe­ti­tion out of the blue. She put a sim­i­lar sheet of steel un­der the High Line in Man­hat­tan, in 2008, and had a solo ex­hi­bi­tion at Los An­ge­les County Mu­seum of Art in 2015. She has also spent sev­eral stints in San Fran­cisco, go­ing back to when she was an un­der­grad study­ing as­tro­physics and scored an in­tern­ship at NASA, at Mof­fett Field in Sun­ny­vale.

Art fi­nally won her over, but there is plenty of science and en­gi­neer­ing in it.

“I think of art as cul­tural in­fra­struc­ture,” she says. “Science is what I read, but the re­sult is art.”

With its Thurs­day un­wrap­ping, “Ge­ne­ses” now an­chors the west end of a Howard Street pub­lic art cor­ri­dor put to­gether by the San Fran­cisco Arts Com­mis­sion. At the corner of Fourth Street is “Ge­ne­ses.” At the corner of Third Street is Keith Har­ing’s sculp­ture of frol­ick­ing stick fig­ures from 1989. Mid-block is a pedes­trian over­cross­ing that will soon fea­ture a light sculp­ture by Leo Vil­lareal, who con­cep­tu­al­ized the ever-shift­ing LED show on the west­ern span of the Bay Bridge in 2013.

A wall mu­ral by Bren­dan Mon­roe of Los An­ge­les is com­ing in Jan­u­ary or Fe­bru­ary, as is “Dou­ble Hori­zon,” a sculp­ture of boul­ders by Sarah Sze of New York City. The four com­mis­sions cost $4 mil­lion, paid for by a “2-per­cent-for-art” tax placed on the de­vel­oper of the Moscone Cen­ter ex­pan­sion.

“Ge­ne­ses” means “many be­gin­nings,” and Cor­day sees her sculp­ture as be­gun but never fin­ished. The fin­ish will be con­tin­u­ously ap­plied by the weather and the hand prints of passersby.

“From a con­cep­tual point of view, touch is in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant,” she says. “The sur­face of the piece will tell the story of ev­ery sin­gle per­son who touches it and, over time, will rep­re­sent the sur­face of San Fran­cisco.”

César Ru­bio Pho­tog­ra­phy

The 8-ton sculp­ture “Ge­ne­ses” is eased into place at Moscone Cen­ter as the fa­cil­ity un­der­goes a ma­jor ex­pan­sion.

Scott Straz­zante / The Chron­i­cle

“Ge­ne­ses,” a sculp­ture by Chris­tine Cor­day, is still un­der wraps as it sits out­side the Moscone Cen­ter ex­pan­sion in San Fran­cisco.

Cor­day Stu­dio / KC Fab­ri­ca­tions

“Ge­ne­ses” un­der con­struc­tion at Cor­day’s stu­dio in the Hud­son River Val­ley of New York.

Jef­frey Prehn

Cor­day won a com­pe­ti­tion to get “Ge­ne­ses” placed in S.F.

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