Flower Interruption: Civic Center Commons
Flower Interruption: Civic Center Commons:
Megan Wilson was invited to be the inaugural artist/project of the Asian Art Museum’s Village Artist Corner (formerly Art/Lit Living Innovation Zone - LIZ), part of San Francisco’s Civic Center Commons Initiative. Wilson’s 5’ x 31’ two-sided mural of brightly painted flowers featured the poem Flower Instructions by Maw Shein Win and spilled out onto the ground below and migrated throughout the areas around the museum on Fulton and Larkin streets.
Flower Interruption: Civic Center Commons was the most labor intensive of all of all the works included in Flower Interruption: AAM. Wilson spent four months onsite, almost everyday painting. This time did not include the several months of advance planning the designs for the murals, mapping out the space, and assessing and purchasing materials. Wilson was assisted most days by her partner, and sometime collaborator, Christopher Statton. Additional volunteer support was provided by the CCC Stewards, Allison Wyckoff, Associate Director, Public and Community Programs at the Asian Art Museum, and friends (find the full list of volunteers and support here).
One of the most harrowing tasks was to create stencils of Maw Shein Win's poetry and transfer these to the mural wall (huge Thank You to Christopher Statton for designing a process to do this and taking it on!) The greatest physical challenge was the wind, which was relentless and was often in the 15 - 20 mph range.
Wilson was deeply grateful to have had this opportunity to work with and develop relations with the Asian Art Museum, the CCC stewards, and the communities that share the Civic Center Commons. On average she and her assistants would speak with 40 – 50 people each day. It was important that they gave directed attention to each person that engaged with them; sometimes that meant a brief “hi” and “thank you” for the appreciation of the work, other times it meant a much longer discussion – all were valued.
The most rewarding aspect of Wilson's residency was that the area came to life and felt like a neighborhood. In part she believes that was shaped by the activity of the painting itself and the no-barrier engagement with public art and artists perceived by most as bringing color and vibrancy to the space. Many people made a point to begin stopping by regularly to check in on the progress and through those interactions, relations deepened and they'd learn more about one another and the surrounding community.
There were several individuals who are part of the street community that brought examples of their artwork to share and offered their assistance if needed. The final flower, painted directly in front of the ‘Happy Dragon’ was dedicated to a member of the LGBTQIA community in the neighborhood, whose beautiful and lively spirit made a strong impression on the project. All of these experiences working directly in the CCC have been invaluable and reflect the collective spirit of community commons that is inclusive and supportive.
Thank you to Maw Shein Win for contributing her beautiful poem Flower Instructions to the Art/Lit Living Innovation Zone (LIZ) mural:
Flower Instructions (inspired by Yoko Ono)
Blanket the streets with plum blossoms.
Rest body against warm concrete.
Find rose petals on sidewalk.
Glimmer of the memory garden.
Follow the trail of invisible bees.
Nectar guides for the lost ones.
Fling lasso into summer darkness.
Hear whistles and megaphone.
Hold body close to body.
Breathe in the greenhouse.
Wear wet glitter and silver hose.
Lick salt on skin.
Catch whispers in libraries.
Greet strangers with acorns and grapefruit.
Remember eyes, ghosts, smoke.
Watch brothers as they disappear.
Imagine a new world.
Keep sisters close by.