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Monday, June 30, 2014

Illuminate the Arts: Making Market Street Not Just a Passage But a Destination

Posted By on Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 8:00 AM

  • Christopher Victorio

The lights crawl up the Eastern Outfitters building, illuminating Market Street -- a passageway that is ever morphing, moving and developing as the years pass. These 400 LED lights, along with images that flash across the side of the building, make up Let There Be -- the latest project from Illuminate the Arts, which flickered to life Thursday night -- each bulb and image reflecting the energy of the street and its role as major artery of the City's pulse.

"I've lived in San Francisco for 20 years and Market Street has always been a part of my commute," says Illuminate the Arts founder and artist behind Let There Be, Ben Davis. And over a year ago, thousands of miles away in Mexico City, he began to think about that commute and started formulating an art project that would work with the surroundings to transform the space. "[We] wanted to make Market Street not just passage but a destination."

Together with the owners of the recently refurbished building at 1019 Market, the project started to grow into something unique. The light sockets on the facade were rewired to work with LED bulbs, and the rest of the exterior was restored to look much like it did when it was erected in 1909.

"It's a whole other level of innovation," adds Davis of the intersection of the lights, images, and building on mid-Market.

The lights will continue to shine and the images will continue to move along the building's facade for the next year; so make sure to take a moment and visit this piece -- make it your destination for the night. And then get ready for Illuminate the Arts other projects.

The next San Francisco art piece from this group will be LightRail -- where they'll illuminate Market Street with two strands of 20,000 LED bulbs that will stretch from Van Ness to the Embarcadero, the bulbs lighting in accordance with the movement of BART and underground Muni trains (during the off hours, they'll light up with pedestrian movement).

In the meantime, if you're visiting Manhattan anytime between July 12-13, check out their Pi in the Sky piece -- where they'll have a skywriter type out pi to the hundredth place -- each number will stretch out over 100 feet. The idea behind it combining "pie in the sky" ideas with universally accepted truths (such as the mathematical pi).

To learn more about Illuminate the Arts' past and current projects, such as The Bay Lights, check out their site:

See more photos of the instillation: "Let There Be": Illuminate the Arts Latest Piece

For events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF, Mollie at @MollieM10, and like us on Facebook.

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About The Author

Mollie McWilliams

Mollie McWilliams

Mollie is the Web Editor and has been with SF Weekly since 2010.


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