Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 21 / 25 May 2017

Venus de Market St.

Out There

The 92-foot stainless steel sculpture "Venus" by artist Lawrence Argent, sited in Trinity Place. Photo: Courtesy Trinity Place
Print this Page
Send to a Friend
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on MySpace!

It will probably come as no surprise that Out There has definite opinions about public art. It's about more than what we "like" or "don't like." It's about we need art in the public sphere so it's not just for the wealthy collector or museum. So there we were last week at the grand opening celebration of the newly christened Piazza Angelo at Trinity Place, sizing up the 92-foot stainless steel sculpture Venus by Denver-based artist Lawrence Argent. It's the centerpiece of the so-called piazza tucked away off the city streets.

The Italian term is another name for the one-acre courtyard enclosed by the three, soon-to-be four giant buildings towering at 8th & Mission Streets, a housing and office complex designed by the late Bay Area landlord Angelo Sangiacomo that presents itself as a set of giant building blocks for the Mid-Market scene. To Sangiacomo's posthumous credit (he died before the project's completion, at 91), the plaza is an inviting new space, and will be open to the public every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The new San Francisco "Venus" is truly a spectacular work of art, nearly the size of that eternal symbol the Statue of Liberty . It portends to be a popular new San Francisco landmark, albeit somewhat hidden in the mid-city block.

Its form of course alludes to the famous Venus de Milo ensconced in the Louvre, but its giant, whirling, reflective surfaces fluctuate between figurative and abstract, depending upon your vantage point. It absolutely vivifies the space, and it's also reportedly pigeon-proof, the birds said to be scared off by their own reflections. Venus herself is merely the focal point of a small collection of public art installed in the piazza, including a 25-foot-long marble table, suitable we guess for lunching.

At the grand opening for Piazza Angelo last week, with umbrellas unfurled against the blazing sun, a gathering of civic leaders cheered Sangiacomo's vision with widow Yvonne and the whole boisterous Sangiacomo clan in attendance. A leader from the Miami-based Arquitectonica firm that designed the complex pointed out that the giant buildings serve to define an interior space, to "create an urban room." Sculptor Argent talked about his inspiration and gave a shout-out to the hundreds of artisans and mechanics who made the shining steel behemoth possible. For a grand finale, beloved crooner Frankie Avalon sang his signature tune "Venus," as well as that #1 hit on the Billboard charts of 1959 "You're Nobody til Somebody Loves You."

Public art is also nothing until somebody loves it, but this new "Venus" seems destined to be the focal point of innumerable shiny steel selfies. It joins such other successful San Francisco public artworks as Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen's monumental "Cupid's Span" on the waterfront, Henry Moore's bronze "Large Four Piece Reclining Figure" in front of Davies Symphony Hall, and that crazy 70s hit the Vaillancourt Fountain in Justin Herman Plaza. Ha ha ha, just pulling your leg about that last one.


Follow The Bay Area Reporter
facebook logo
facebook logo
Newsletter logo
Newsletter logo
ISSUU logo