fig. 57: California Ave., California Native
fig. 58: Urban Apple Orchard
Susan Leibovitz Steinman
Artist Susan Leibovitz Steinman salvages materials directly from community waste streams to construct public art installations that connect common daily experiences to broader social issues. Projects include conceptual sculpture gardens that meld art, ecology and community action.
Her most recent public art commission for the City of Palo Alto, entitled California Avenue, California Native (1997), recreates a native grassland meadow in an urban median strip. The block-long permanent installation consists of three elements: an entry median strip landscape of native grasses, flowers and Sierra granite stones, adjacent sidewalks inset with bricks engraved with a text about California written by winners of a public contest, and seven unique banners painted with images of native plants and animals that contain the word "California" as part of their names.
For the San Francisco Art Commission, Steinman worked with neighbors, teenagers, homeless people and S.L.U.G. (an urban garden action group) to transform a blighted lot under the 101 Freeway on Market Street into a flowering, fruiting Urban Apple Orchard (1994-95). The installation contained salvaged tires, recycled concrete gravel, eleven unique "antique" apple trees and various flowers. Upon dismantling, the trees were transplanted to two local schools and a neighborhood park.
For San Francisco's waste transfer and recycling facility (NORCAL Sanitary Fill Company) she designed The River of Hopes and Dreams (1992), a permanent three-acre sculpture garden. as a model for reclamation, resource conservation, recycling, and community involvement. Almost one-hundred high school students contributed their art and ideas to it.
All text © Terri Cohn and Susan Leibovitz Steinman.