SAN FRANCISCO – Amid a neighborhood celebration, city officials today unveiled a new mural celebrating the Bayview-Hunters Point community on a historic building that will become an integral part of its future. The block party featured free food and music, followed by a screening of the Golden State Warriors game against the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals.
The temporary mural, painted by Ira Watkins, Artist in Residence at Shipyard Trust for the Arts (STAR), will make its home on the walls of the Shipwright’s Cottage at 900 Innes Avenue. The cottage, built in 1875, is the oldest known residence in India Basin and was the centerpiece to the union shipbuilding industry. It will one day serve as the welcome, education and community center of the city’s planned 10-acre waterfront park, which will connect the Bay Trail and provide open space, boating amenities, food concessions, trails, and unrivaled recreation for local residents.
District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton revealed the mural, which depicts generations of diverse neighbors experiencing the joy of recreation, community gatherings and leisure along the San Francisco Bay shoreline.
“This is a community with a long history of local artists,” Walton said. “Ira Watkins’ mural helps ensure that Bayview-Hunters Point will become an even more vital part of the City’s fine arts community.”
Watkins, a self-taught artist and resident of the neighborhood’s Davis Senior Center, tells the histories and stories of African Americans through his work. He migrated to San Francisco from the South during World War II to work in the shipyard. His work has been exhibited at numerous gallery and museum shows, including the Asian Art Museum, University of California, and Luggage Store Gallery. He was inspired by childhood memories of his neighborhood park.
“When I was young, my friends and I would meet up every day to play basketball in the park. We spent countless days in the park playing ball for bragging rights, laughing and simply enjoying each other’s company. Because the park was such an important part of my childhood, I wanted to make sure the idea of creating treasured childhood memories in the park came through in the mural—to show how I think people in my community will use India Basin Park when it’s here,” Watkins said. “Lastly, the most special part about this project is letting people know that I was here on Earth and had an opportunity to create something that will hopefully brighten up their day every time they visit India Basin Park.”
San Francisco Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg said his department embarked on the mural project to beautify the space and celebrate the community.
“Like the park plan itself, the design of the mural was shaped by residents of Bayview-Hunters Point. Their priorities were clear: they wanted to see the history and future of their community, generations of neighbors enjoying fresh air and healthy activities,” Ginsburg said.
The rehabilitation of 900 Innes, site of the Shipwright’s Cottage, is part of a larger plan to revitalize a network of waterfront open space in the city’s southeast by rehabilitating and uniting several poorly conditioned existing open spaces into a single, seamless design. The India Basin waterfront project, passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in September of 2018, will combine the abandoned industrial site at 900 Innes, which the City acquired in 2014, with two existing parks that border it: India Basin Shoreline Park and India Basin Shoreline Open Space, both of which would undergo significant improvements.
The project is a partnership between the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, the Trust for Public Land, and the San Francisco Parks Alliance.
“Parks are an integral part of what makes San Francisco a great place to live,” said Guillermo Rodriguez, California State Director at the Trust for Public Land. “The work we're doing in the India Basin community is helping to ensure that everyone has access to a great park that reflects the identity of the neighborhood. We're thrilled to continue working in partnership with the community."
“This new and improved park will work towards correcting the environmental injustices this community has experienced in the past,” said Drew Becher of the San Francisco Parks Alliance. “The mural unveiling is a great first step towards highlighting the investment in a greener future for this community.”