SFGH Healing Garden

 Posted by on March 28, 2013
Mar 282013

1001 Potrero
San Francisco General Hospital

SFGH Healing Garden

The artist designed this small garden, in 1993, as an extension to an existing hospital memorial garden and as a place to provide seating sheltered from the wind. A red gravel walkway, edged in white granite city-surplus curbstones, forms a double helix, which is symbolic of life. The seating is made from salvaged granite.

Double Helix at SFGH gardenLook closely, you can see the double helix in the planter on the left.

Healing Garden at SFGH by Peter RichardsBenny Bufano’s Madonna graces the back of the garden.

Salvaged Granite SFGH Healing Garden

Peter Richards is a long-term Artist in Residence at the Exploratorium (an innovative science museum in San Francisco, California) Peter shares his enthusiasm for nature and the elements through his work. His engaging outdoor public sculptures and immersive landscaped environments bring such phenomena as wind and tidal movement into a larger cultural context. Peter is responsible for the Wave Organ in the bay, and the Philosophers Walk at McClaren Park. He holds an MFA from the Rinehart School of Sculpture in Baltimore, Maryland and a BA in Art from Colorado College.

The garden is part of the SFAC collection.

Bufano at Westside Courts

 Posted by on January 31, 2013
Jan 312013

Westside Courts Housing Project
2501 Sutter Street
Lower Pacific Heights

Bufano at Westside Courts Housing Project

This sculpture, by well known San Francisco sculptor  Beniamino Bufano, is titled Saint Francis on Horseback.  Standing  8′ x 6′ and of black granite  it is located in the central courtyard of the project. It was made in 1935 but not placed here until 1945.

Westside Courts were built in 1943, Westside includes 136 units in six buildings that cover a full city block. Westside s unusual because it is located in a thriving, mixed-income neighborhood. Another distinction is in its construction, which relied on heavy cement blocks, creating buildings that have suffered less from degradation over time.

Westside is a development that has exceeded its useful life. The development is more than 65 years old, and residents live with outdated appliances; unpredictable plumbing, mechanical, and electrical systems; extensive rodent problems; and other issues that affect their health and quality of life.

Westside  comes under the purvue of HOPE SF, a subsidiary of the San Francisco Housing Authority.

Beniamino Bufano on Sutter Street in San Francisco


Benny Bufano St. Francis on Horseback

Penguin’s Prayer

 Posted by on September 29, 2012
Sep 292012

1100 Lake Merced Blvd.
Sunset District

Penguin’s Prayer
by Beniamino Bufano

Placed by
Lake Merced Neighborhood Organization
Bufano Society of the Arts
Dedicated December 4, 1976


This sculpture by prolific, and San Francisco darling, Benny Bufano was originally made for the Treasure Island Golden Gate Exposition of 1939.

Peace by Bufano

 Posted by on September 12, 2012
Sep 122012

800 Brotherhood Way

Peace by Benny Bufano

Located at the entrance to the San Francisco Airport for almost forty years”Peace” was relocated to make way for a parking garage.  After restoration it was moved to Brotherhood Way, where it stands now.

Benny Bufano was born in Italy in 1898, Beniamino Benvenuto Bufano came to the United States at young age with his family. After studying art in New York City, he eventually moved to San Francisco where he taught both at UC-Berkeley and at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. He died in 1970.

On the back of the circular base is inscribed:

Dedicated April 19, 1958
George Christopher, Mayor

On the front of the circular base is inscribed:

Presented to the Citizens of San Francisco by the San Francisco Chronicle
Dedicated to the Brotherhood of Man and the Ideal of Peace Among all the Peoples of the World

UPDATE – April 17, 2013 – Where is the statue?

Brotherhood Way was originally called Stanley Way. But in 1958, under Mayor George Christopher, the city, which owned all of the land on the south side of the street, turned that property over to a long list of religious institutions and renamed the street to reflect its role as a place for houses of worship. It’s now home to six churches or synagogues and nine religious schools. It has its own (religious) neighborhood association.

On May 19, 2005, the Planning Commission approved an expansion of the Park Merced apartment complex to add up to 182 units on the north side of the street.

There has been a contentious battle over this plan ever since.

Opponents of the project say the area was set aside for educational and religious uses, not housing — and they argue that the expansion of Park Merced will add too much congestion to the area. Supporters say the west side of town needs to accept more housing and more density.

In April of 2010 a Letter of Agreement was executed between the San Francisco Arts Commission and the project property owner to protect the Bufano sculpture adjacent to the project site during project construction. The Agreement identifies a specific site for relocation of the statue. The Agreement also sets forth specific tasks and conditions for de-installing, storing, and re-installing the sculpture at a time agreed upon by the project sponsor and the Arts Commission.  If you are interested in keeping up to date on the progress, here is the link to the SFAC page about the project.

As of February 1, 2013 all the plans have been approved by the City, however, the opponents are continuing their battle in court.  The trees have been removed, the water and sewer pipes are being prepared to be installed and the developer is moving forward.  The Bufano has been removed and I will report where Peace ends up when this is all over.

A little about Park Merced: Metlife owned and carefully maintained the property until the early 1970s, when it sold it to Leona Helmsley and the property began to deteriorate. There were a succession of owners and management companies beginning in the late 1990s. The commercial areas of the development were sold off to investors, and other parts sold to the California State University system. As of 2008, 116 of the original 150 acres are owned and maintained by a single investor, who purchased the property for $700 million and has committed $110 million in upgrades.  The architecture of Park Merced is very unique and I hope to write a post about that in the near future.

Chinatown – Sun Yat Sen

 Posted by on September 8, 2011
Sep 082011
St Mary’s Square
Quincy, Pine, California and Kearny Streets
Sculpted by Beniaminio Bufano
This 12 foot statue is inscribed (in Chinese):
Dr. Sun Yat Sen 1866-1925
Father of the Chinese Republic and First President
Founder of the Kuo Min Tang
Champion of Democracy
Lover of mankind: Proponent of friendship and peace among the nations,
based on equality, justice and goodwill
Bufano has been in this blog before.  His work usually used an easily-recognized style of glazed terra-cotta, a technique he learned from porcelain glazers while traveling in China. Also while in China, Bufano met and befriended the Chinese revolutionary leader, Dr. Sun Yat Sen. His claim to have stayed at the Sun home has never been substantiated, but it is clear he knew the man.
When Sun was in political exile, he visited San Francisco with the largest Chinese community outside Asia, to rally support for his overthrow of the Manchu Empire. Sun was successful in founding the Chinese Republic in 1911, and was inaugurated as first president on January 1, 1912. He served only six weeks, but the republic lasted more than a year. Dr. Sun lived until 1924.
In 1938, Chinatown business leaders commissioned this stainless steel and red granite statue of Sun, to commemorate Sun’s visit to the city. Bufano received the commission.
Dr. Sun Yat Sen was recently described by the People’s Daily (official paper of China) as, “the forerunner of the democratic revolution in China.…a great revolutionary and a great statesman who fought against imperialist aggression and for the independence and freedom of China.” Dr. Sun was among the first graduates of the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese.
Photographers note:  That is a pigeon on Dr. Sun’s head.  The bane of statuary photography.