Skygarden By James Turrell
Using neon as his only material, James Turrell created Skygarden within a three-story opening in the San Francisco Federal Building. This void appears as a glowing block of color; a ribbon of bright neon extends diagonally from the terrace up the building’s façade following a seam in its perforated metal skin. Another band of light is embedded in the plaza at street level, completing the geometric figure. Stand on the south side of Mission Street across from the Federal Building long enough to see the colors transform, then enter the building’s courtyard for a more intimate glimpse.
(Caruso’s Dream) by Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn
Walk one block north to Market Street and turn left (or hop on a vintage streetcar) to reach Ninth Street, just south of Market, where “…and my room still rocks like a boat on the sea” (Caruso’s Dream) dangles from AVA 55 Ninth apartments. Created with materials that draw on the area’s history, the 13-piano installation is inspired by the moment when opera star Enrico Caruso was awakened by the great calamity of April 18, 1906. He did not know if he was awake or still dreaming as he walked to the window to see the results of the ongoing earthquake. By tuning into short-range broadcast 90.9 FM within a block of the artwork (4 p.m. – 10 a.m.), listeners may hear a Caruso recording that inspired the light dancing through the pianos.
Constellation by Nayland Blake
Take a short walk across Market Street to the San Francisco Main Library (open late Tuesday – Thursday until 8:00 p.m.) to experience Constellation, an impressive artwork 54 feet high and weighing 5.5 tons. The artwork is inspired by the Beaux Arts tradition with origins in the Bibliothèque Saint-Genevieve in Paris (a model for San Francisco’s former Main Library which is now the Asian Art Museum), on which authors’ names were inscribed on the facade. The artist revisits this idea with an index of authors’ names etched into mirrored glass shades, installed with fiber optic lighting to create the illusion of floating stars.
Enjoy illuminated projections on San Francisco's City Hall
After leaving the library, stop in the Civic Center Plaza to experience San Francisco City Hall aglow in holiday colors (or other event-based brilliance) with its newly installed LED light system. Catch “Holiday Fanfare,” a series of performances presented by the Civic Center Community Benefit District and the Conservatory of Music, on the dates below (in the event of rain, performances held under the marquee at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium).
Temple at Patricia’s Green by David Best
Just a few short blocks west of Civic Center, Temple at Patricia’s Green is an interactive installation of remembrance where people can write personal notes to loved ones on the artwork itself. Bring your Sharpie and contribute to the piece! From Civic Center Plaza, walk one block west on Grove Street to cross Van Ness Avenue and continue one block to Franklin Street. Turn left and continue one block to Hayes Street and turn right to walk three blocks through trendy Hayes Valley with its chic shops, restaurants and art galleries on your way to Patricia’s Green in the median on Octavia Boulevard.
End with a sweet treat at Smitten Ice Cream
Stop to enjoy a made-to-order treat at Smitten Ice Cream, 432 Octavia St., or any of the enticing establishments you’ll find in Hayes Valley. A four-block walk down Fell Street back to Market Street leads to The Market, a vast food-and-drink emporium on the first floor of the Twitter building, 1355 Market St. Or, opt to take a historic streetcar to the Ferry Building to experience the light art work Soma on Embarcadero Pier 14. Enroute, stop off at 1028 Market St. just before Sixth Street to interact with Block by Block by Marisha Farnsworth, an illuminated bench that stacks, swings and pivots.