Bernal Heights Library Mural Mediation
Beginning in January of this year, a group of residents of Bernal Heights participated in mediation to seek resolution to controversies surrounding the mural on the walls of the Bernal branch library. The mediation was sponsored by Supervisor David Campos and led by Bernal resident Beth Roy. With a shared commitment to principles of equity and justice, and through a process of deep dialogue, exploration of meanings, and respectful relationship building, the group produced the following recommendations:
PRINCIPLES OF AGREEMENT: BERNAL LIBRARY ARTWORK
The Bernal community is committed to progressive principles of inclusion, social justice, and creativity.
The Bernal library mural is meaningful to many members of the community:
o It exemplifies respect for people with deep roots on the hill, especially for those whose lifestyles have been altered by economic forces changing housing patterns over recent decades.
o It is a legacy of Arch Williams, a pioneer of the San Francisco mural movement.
o It represents the long reach of Bernal's history, from Native American occupants to the early 1980s when it was created.
The Bernal library building is a significant landmark in the community:
o Its architecture is aesthetically excellent.
o It was built as part of the WPA program of the 1930s, a tribute to the principle of collective responsibility during hard times and to the ability of responsive government to promote creativity, beauty, and support for the public good.
o The renovation of the interior exemplifies a lush and inviting presence for the many programs and resources offered by the library.In an effort to honor all these principles, we offer a resolution to the mural dispute, arrived at through a process of consensus that itself manifests the principles of respect and equity we hold in common.
WHAT WE PROPOSE DOING: REVITALIZING THE ARTWORK ON THE LIBRARY
Inaugurate a new art project at the Bernal library, to produce a contemporary art work in accordance with the following priorities:
1. Themes of social justice and representing the whole community will continue to be central to the artwork. The artwork will give voice to and be representative of the whole community.
2. The artwork will honor and build on the history, meanings and content of both the existing mural and also the WPA building, evoking the story of both in its reflection of the history of the community, a history that has evolved to include newcomers with diverse lifestyles. Specific elements of the existing mural have importance for members of the community; the chosen artistic team will be involved in identifying, retaining and reflecting those images in the new art work with the input of the community.
3. The artwork will be designed and led by a diverse team of artists selected by a task force formed from among the mediation group in consultation with Bernal residents with needed expertise. Criteria for selection will be developed by the task force and will include the following: the chosen artists should represent a wide range of experiences in public and community‐based art development. Priority will be given to Bernal artists. The process will be inclusive and collaborative.
4. The artwork will be designed so as to respect the lines and intentions of the architecture, creating balance between artwork and façade. The entire area within the property lines of the library will be considered for free‐standing or mural or integrated artwork. The artwork will engage the site and building on the south, east, and north sides as determined by the selected artist team after meetings and other processes with the community processes have taken place.
5. The new artwork will use media that requires little or no maintenance, such as painted tile, mosaic, metalwork, ceramics or other permanent mediums.
6. No existing artwork will be removed or painted over until the funding and design processes are in place.
PRESERVING THE ORIGINAL MURAL
Images of the existing mural in its original form will be put on permanent display inside the library, along with text explaining the meanings of the visual elements and, through the story of the making of the mural, does honor to Arch Williams.
HOW WE PROPOSE TO DO IT: COMMUNITY PROCESS
The intention of the mural process is to contribute to greater understanding and cooperation among diverse members of the multicultural, multi‐class Bernal community.
QUALITIES AND VALUES
In the words of a mediation participant: "We have an opportunity to create a significant event in the neighborhood. When the library was built, that was a significant event. When the mural was painted, that was a significant event. This is the time for a third significant event, revitalizing the Library building. Fifty years from now, people in the community will look at what we do today and honor it."
In the end, the artwork will respond with emotional integrity and a sense of memory and history, promote a vision of social justice on the hill and in the world, and bring to the library campus images of beauty that invite the fullest and most joyous uses of the library itself.
Signed: Susan Cervantes, Supervisor David Campos, Larry Cruz, Monique Jaquez, Darcy Lee, Dan Martinez, Terry Milne, Ellen Morrison, Brandon Powell, Beth Roy, Michael Smith, Johanna Silva Waki, Giulio Sorro, Amy Trachtenberg, Mauricio Vela
March 28, 2010