Pepe Ozan’s Invocation

 Posted by on July 18, 2011
Jul 182011
Potrero Hill – San Francisco

This sculpture is located at the corner of Bayshore Blvd, Cesar Chavez and 26th Street, just to the side of Highway 101. Though it was installed in 2004, to mark the beginning of a new bike path, they just started construction on said path this month.

The sculptor, Pepe Ozan, stated that the piece represents an Eagle-Warrior, an institution that survived all of Mesoamerica’s civilizations throughout 2000 years until the arrival of the Conquistadors. The Eagle-Warriors were a corps of elite who served as leaders in religious ceremonies as well as on the battlefield.

The plaque on this sculpture reads “Presented to Honor the Indigenous Heritage of This Region”

The piece was part of the SFAC 2006-07 budget and cost $14,000.

Pepe Ozan Eagle Warrior

Pepe Ozan (1940-2013)  was an Argentinian sculptor that was very active with Burning Man.

From the Burning Man Blog:

One of Pepe’s lingam sculptures was first burned at Burning Man in 1993, and he created “Pepe’s Tower” each year after that until 2000. In Burning Man’s early years in the Black Rock Desert, the ritual burning of “Pepe’s Tower” on Friday night was traditionally followed by the burning of the Man the next evening. The Friday night ritual became more elaborate each year, and in 1996 it was renamed “The Burning Man Opera”.

“Le Nystere de Papa Loko” opera, 1999 (Photo by Tom Pendergast)
Pepe’s elaborate operas included “The Arrival of Empress Zoe” (1996), “The Daughters of Ishtar” (1997), “The Temple of Rudra” (1998), “Le Mystere De Papa Loko” (1999), “The Thaur-Taurs of Atlan” (2000), and “Ark of the Nereids” (2002), which featured a 35′-long mobile sculpture / musical instrument in the form of a Spanish Galleon crossed with a mythical aquatic creature. These epic performances, remembered fondly by so many in our community, would feature over 2,000 dancers and performers – in a true demonstration of radical inclusion, any and all Burners were invited to participate.


My office is only 5 blocks from this spot, and I drive by this spot at least 3 times a week. I am not sure if I really have never seen it, or, more likely, the city finally got around to clearing away overgrown trees and shrubs.

I bring this up, not to point out my intense concentration on the road while I drive, but to discuss a problem that the City of San Francisco has with its art collection It has been said that the cities collection is valued at around $90 million dollars and includes over 4,000 items, one of the richest city-owned art collections in the world.

Sadly, management of the collection is so shoddy that the city cannot say for sure how many pieces it owns. Some pieces have been damaged because of lack of maintenance or poor storage; others have disappeared entirely.

The San Francisco Arts Commission is the city agency responsible for the collection. The page of their website that listed the collection shut down recently, with an apology that they were trying to get a better handle on the collection and bring a more complete list to the public.

Since the Civic Arts Collection’s inception in 1932, a full survey of the city’s holdings has never been done. A complete inventory is under way, but until its scheduled completion in late 2012, the city can only guess at the collection’s size.

Approximately 900 pieces are in storage, while the rest are scattered around parks, hospitals, offices, courtrooms and other public city-owned spaces.

The budget to tally, repair and keep an eye on the collection is minimal, and the staff almost non-existent.

What I suspect here is that this particular sculpture was hidden in the local flora, only to be discovered again after the gardeners arrived.