Octavia Boulevard and the Central Freeway (now and then)

Proposal for a public artwork at 78 Haight Street in San Francisco by Kota Ezawa

The proposed artwork combines a contemporary view of Octavia Boulevard with a drawing of the Central Freeway that used to stand in its place. This visual composition commemorates and celebrates the transformation of the Market & Octavia Neighborhood while acknowledging the complex history of the Central Freeway. Placed on top of each other with no delineated boundaries, the two images function as one seamless visual scroll wherein viewers travel from one time period to another.

The making process of this artwork follows a method I have developed over the past two decades in which archival photographs are manually traced and translated into a computer vector drawing. The resulting drawing can be infinitely upscaled without loss of resolution and lends itself to a multitude of printing processes. Aesthetically, I worked within a color palette that simultaneously aims to attract the viewer’s eye while still resonating with the design of the building and the surrounding cityscape. It is important to me that the artwork will be able to provide an impactful experience for pedestrians walking by as well as for drivers exiting the freeway onto Octavia Boulevard.

Overall, I intend to produce an accessible and thought-provoking artwork that reflects the neighborhood in which it is situated. Rather than presenting a definitive narrative, this public art project attempts to inspire diverse conversations on urban transformation. Furthermore, I would like this artwork to add a moment of visual poetry to the facade of 78 Haight Street and in this way, contribute to the vibrancy of this neighborhood.