Robert Minervini, San Francisco Arts Commission Art on Market Street Kiosk Poster Series
by MONIQUE DELAUNAY, EDITOR on 02/20/2015
The Art on Market Street Kiosk Poster series has included a wealth of well-known local artists including Rigo 94, Margaret Kilgallen, Kara Maria, Jason Jagel, Kamau Amu Patton, and Elisheva Biernoff. This spring, Robert Minervini is among three artists in 2015 who will create and present six posters along Market Street between 8th and the Embarcadero. San Francisco Art Enthusiast was delighted to get a sneak peek of the artwork while speaking to Minervini about his interpretation of the Art on Market Street series.
“Artists were asked to respond to the overarching thematic of ‘Exposed’ within San Francisco Arts Commission’s Civic Art Collection,” Minervini says as he related to Art Enthusiast the genesis of the project. “I chose to focus on the statuary of Golden Gate Park as a theme based on my interest in landscape and in the intersection of nature and culture…” Among 4,000 artworks within the civic art collection, he says he was particularly attracted to San Francisco’s public statuary as it best evinces that close relationship — the “collective ownership” that should exist between this city’s vast collection and its citizens. Minervini further details these public works act in much the same way as SFAC’s Art on Market Street project, where the works are on view in the public sphere: “What makes Art on Market Street such an appealing project to me is that the artworks are intended for, and given to the public instead of for private use.”
Artist Robert Minervini in the studio
Additionally, he was interested in revealing lost narratives and historical local knowledge that may be lost to contemporary audiences. “By focusing on specific artifacts within the park — Portals of the Past, the Sara B. Cooper Memorial, The William McKinley Memorial, The Ball Thrower, Poème de la Vigne, and the John McLaren Stature — I was interested in uncovering forgotten narratives—how the statues came to exist, what the historic relevance was to the city and its inhabitants, and what the statues’ relevance might be to a contemporary audience…” He pointed out that with these deep, multifarious layers of histories one can delve into, many creative interpretations can also be made. “On their own, un-contextualized and relegated to the status of “historical icon,” the monuments lose significance,” he explains. “By reinterpreting the statues visually, integrating their history with a contemporary aesthetic, I had aimed to reconnect the monuments with present-day viewing audiences and to provoke inquiry regarding the influence of the past on the present.”
This project, Minervini admits, had its challenges. “In general with my work, I’m not interested in depicting specific sites, spaces or places because I want to avoid my work being about portraiture of place so to speak,” he says. “My source material is generated by mixing and blending locations and places, which are often of local origin but reimagined in a non-specific way.” But with this challenge, Minervini sees opportunity for the breadth of visual subject matter to expand, and open himself up for new avenues in his practice. “I was very interested to see what would happen when choosing to work with such specific subject matter as these statues in Golden Gate Park. In the future, I could see more specific icons tucked into my works, but in general my interests still lay in abstracting the real to some extent.”