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Foundation Awards $500,000 to Local Orgs for Public Artworks

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Os Gemeos’ “The GIANT” mural (part of the “Light Up Central Market” project by Luggage Store Gallery, Hyphae Design Laboratory and Nighthouse Studio). (Courtesy of the Rainin Foundation)

The Kenneth Rainin Foundation announced Tuesday the awarding of $500,000 in grants to four local arts organizations for temporary public art projects in Oakland and San Francisco.

The Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco, Flyaway Productions, Galería de la Raza and Youth Speaks will each receive six-figure grants from the foundation. Selected from a field of 35 other applicants, the awardees are expected to complete their projects within the next 18 months.

The grants come from the foundation’s Open Spaces program, an initiative to provide more public art in the Bay Area. The program began two years ago as a way to engage local communities with art that speaks to bigger issues, such as immigration and displacement.

“It’s not like we’re sticking a statue in a neighborhood,” said Amanda Flores-Witte, the communications director for Kenneth Rainin Foundation. “We’re looking for ways to bring people together that wasn’t possible before.”

These projects “awaken people to what civil engagement is all about,” said Flores-Witte.


The projects being funded this cycle are as follows (per the foundation’s website):

  • TRANSITION24 ­– The Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco, in collaboration with Survival Project artists Raina Ho, Thy Tran and Bryan Wu, will produce a story-sharing project using San Francisco’s 24 MUNI bus line to engage communities along its route in an exploration of survival, access, migration and community resilience. (Grant award: $133,000.)
  • TENDER (n) a person who takes charge – Flyaway Productions will work with artists Vân-Ánh Võ and Sean Riley to produce a multi-faceted performance celebrating 100 years of outcast activism in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. (Grant award: $133,000.)
  • ARTruck Residencies – Galería de la Raza will work with curator Alexandra “Lexx” Valdez and artist-in-residence Jessica Sabogal to host screen and digital printmaking residencies that explore displacement and the housing crisis affecting San Francisco’s Mission District. (Grant award: $134,000.)
  • We So Bay – Youth Speaks, led by artists James Kass and Sean San Jose, will engage young people in six San Francisco and Oakland communities to tell stories about their neighborhoods. (Grant award: $100,000.)

The Rainin Foundation will begin accepting applications for the next year’s Open Spaces grants on June 25. In March, the foundation will host its second public art symposium in March of this year.

Kenneth Rainin, owner of Rainin Instrument Company, started his foundation in order to support the arts, and fight ongoing issues such as childhood illiteracy and chronic disease. He died in May of 2007 at the age of 68.

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