Can Artist Save Offbeat Landmark From Eviction?

"Defenestration" needs money for restoration, possible move

By Jackson West
|  Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010  |  Updated 5:49 PM PDT
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Can Artist Save Offbeat Landmark From Eviction?

Dawn Endico

The years have not been easy on one-of-a-kind art installation Defenestration, and the city wants it either fixed up or torn down.

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When Brian Goggin and a large team of volunteers created "Defenestration" in 1997 it was meant to be a temporary public art installation.

For 13 years now, furniture has whimsically been trying to escape the vacant Hugo Hotel at Sixth and Howard, to the delight of San Franciscans and beyond.

Those years have taken their toll, as the upholstery and wood finishes have grown tatty from exposure.

Late last year, the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency bought the building, the last vacant edifice in what's generally regarded as a rough neighborhood.

The City wants to tear the building down and replace it with affordable housing, and it wanted the sculpture removed -- until Goggin convinced them to let it stay along with the building as long as he and his team would restore it.

The plans are to rehabilitate the pieces one at a time, as well as fix the lighting which used to illuminate the work at night and create an accompanying mural at street level.

But that's going to take money -- $75,000 according to Goggin -- so partnering with the Black Rock Arts Foundation, Operation Restore Defenestration is taking tax-deductible donations.

Unfortunately, the building will be coming down -- eventually. The city doesn't actually have a developer slated to replace the building, and between the permitting process and the economy, it could be a while before any plans are set.

But that doesn't mean that the art will disappear. Goggin is thinking about relocating the piece, possibly across the street which houses the 1:AM gallery, where he'll be holding a fundraiser benefit on March 5.

Photo by Dawn Endico.

 

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Jackson West loves him some public art. Unless it's the pro-industrialist brutalism of Richard Serra.

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