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Artists at Hunters Point Shipyard benefit from STAR

Wed, 31 Oct 2012 14:10:00
Article by:
Julie McCoy
Shipyard Trust for the Arts — STAR — supports artists and art programs in the Bayview Hunters Point community of San Francisco and works to preserve and expand the Hunters Point Shipyard as a hub of artistic activity.

STAR helps artists “succeed in their art-making business and have it be sustainable to them,” explained President Margan Mulvihill. “You want their voices heard. Not all artists are good at doing it themselves.”

Each year, though its Artist-in-Residence Program, STAR recognizes an artist who lives, works or volunteers in the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood. The artist receives free studio space at the Hunters Point Shipyard for 18 months and a $500 stipend that can be used for their work.

Artists apply to be selected for the Artist-in-Residence program and undergo an extensive application process. They are expected to include a proposal of what they would do with the studio space if chosen.

The Artist-in-Residence for 2012–2013 is Kristine Mays, a wire artist who was selected from a pool of eight candidates.

“People were mostly impressed by her work,” Mulvihill explained. “She was eager and passionate and really thought it through. She said something in her application about having seen the area change and grow.”

Starting with a single piece of wire and a vision in her mind, Mays creates life-sized sculptures out of hundreds of pieces of wire.

“I don’t use forms or molds — I create from what I see and am exposed to, the ideas and images that I feel most passionate about,” Mays explained. “Looking at my work, one might say my favorite subject matter is dresses; however, my work is more about people and the human condition.

“I attempt to capture the soul, giving the viewer the option of looking at the shell I have created or seeing the essence of the person within. Sometimes, even if I have created a female form, male viewers connect with the essence of the person I have captured. My work goes far beyond what someone wears or their physical appearance.”

Mays further commented, “I think being an Artist-in-Residence at the Hunters Point Shipyard also has made me more focused on my work. It also has opened up a sense of belief and determination within. You see, sometimes I don’t think we don’t dream big enough and this opportunity revealed that even things that may seem impossible can actually happen. I never imagined I would be working in such a great studio space.”

Mays added, “Here in San Francisco, there are so many artists and affordable work spaces are hard to come by. Never in a million years did I think I’d be awarded a space. This has enabled me to continue to produce work, to have space to create some of the bigger ideas that I’ve been dreaming of, and it had offered me exposure to a new audience here in the Bayview.

“But let me say this: This experience isn’t just about what I was given. It also is about having the doors open to create change, to help others, to bring hope to a community. So while I love having the studio, I also like that I can use my artwork to inspire and encourage others to go after their dreams. The experience has been invaluable. I have not even begun to see the impact of this residency.”

Former recipients of the Artist-in-Residence recognition include Dolores Grey, Juan Fuentes, Mary Booker, Santie Huckaby, Rhonel Roberts, Veronica Orozco, Maurica Gandara and Alan Hopkins.

In addition to its Artist-in-Residence program, STAR has an auditorium program though which it uses the auditorium at the Hunters Point Shipyard, according to President Emeritus Marc Ellen Hamel, who serves on the STAR board.

The auditorium has been used to show arts-related movies and give demonstrations on painting. An artist who is a lawyer also gave a talk about legal issues for lawyers in the auditorium. “Since it’s there, we use it,” Hamel said.

STAR also has a Pass It On program, in which an artist is paid a stipend to go into the community and present an arts workshop to any organization that would like to have one, Hamel explained.

As a result of the Pass It On Program, STAR provides an after-school art class to children in the Malcolm X Academy School one day a week. The class is taught by Hamel and another artist, Brian Moore. The two volunteer their time and STAR provides funding for the art supplies. Many artists have donated supplies as well. “I wanted to connect artists with Bayview Hunters Point,” Hamel explained.

A small organization, STAR operates on less than $50,000 a year, according to Hamel. STAR receives ongoing funding from the Robert H. Andrews Memorial Fund, which is administered though the Tides Foundation. STAR also receives money from private donations and though annual auctions.

STAR will hold a silent auction at the Hunters Point Shipyard on Nov. 3, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and a live juried auction will be held on Nov. 4 from 5 to 6 p.m. Artwork will be donated by more than 90 artists at the shipyard.

The auctions are being held in conjunction with the San Francisco Fall Open Studios, an annual event in October and November that showcases more than 900 emerging and established San Francisco artists in their studios.

SF Open Studios features painting, printmaking, drawing, sculpture, photography, installations, jewelry, ceramics, and textiles on view and for sale directly from the artists.

“Open Studio is a great opportunity for people to come and see what artists are doing,” Mulvihill noted.

In the spring, STAR supports the San Francisco Spring Open Studios with a grant that is typically between $2,000 and $3,000, according to Mulvihill.

How did STAR get started?

Artists began renting studios at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard — a former Navy ship repair facility — back in 1983, according to STAR’s website.

In 1985, the city and the Navy announced plans to rebuild the base and homeport the USS Missouri and other naval ships at Hunters Point, which would have displaced hundreds of artists and other small business tenants.

Faced with eviction, shipyard tenants banded together to preserve the unique mixture of arts and small business flourishing there. The homeporting was cancelled in 1988, and the base closed in 1991. A process was then begun to transfer the property to the city.

STAR was formed in the summer of 1995, and grew out of involvement of the artists in the city’s planning process — especially the interaction of shipyard artists and representatives of the Bayview Hunters Point community on the Mayor's HPSY Citizen Advisory Committee.

More information about STAR can be obtained by calling 415.822.0922 or visiting www.shipyardtrust.org.
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