Client: San Francisco Arts Commission
Location: San Francisco, CA, United States
Completion date: 2022
Artwork budget: $309,000
Gizmo Art Production
Paper cutting scaled onto large painted steel panels. As transit riders descend into the new Chinatown-Rose Pak station, they are greeted by two monumental artworks based on the detailed works of Yumei Hou. Hou is a San Francisco Chinatown-based artist, acclaimed for her intricate traditional Chinese paper cuts works. With the help of Gizmo fabricators, she has transformed her paper cuts into two large laser-cut metal artworks painted in a vibrant red, which are installed so that they stand slightly off from the wall to allow for shadow casting. The works, “Yangge: Dance of the Bride” and “Yangge: Dance of the New Year”, are inspired by the “Yangge” (Rice Sprout Song), a popular folk dance from the northern provinces of China, which typically involves groups of people dancing in a variety of costumes to celebrate momentous and joyous occasions.
The artwork found on the upper mezzanine landing is approximately 16 feet high by 36 feet wide, while the artwork at the ticketing hall is over 30 feet high by 35 feet wide. These two large scale pieces greet audiences like multidimensional metal murals, depicting swirling imagery of dancers and celebration while defining the Chinatown Station as a destination along the new subway route.
To create long lasting durable rigid panels from digitized images of traditional paper art clippings, and arrange them in a perfect pattern off of the walls of the 100 foot deep subway station in San Francisco CA. The artist was used to working in a smaller more delicate medium. The public artwork however had to translate into something elegant yet hardy and permanent (with an expected life span of 50 or more years) and required engineering, expert fabrication, finish work and exacting installation methods in order to achieve making maintainable pieces that captured the spirit of the traditional craft in an accessible manner to the millions of future Muni riders.
Gizmo Art Production worked directly with Yumei to photograph her originals works cut from paper. Gizmo then scaled and modeled the images into a panel system that was cut in their studios from 316 stainless steel, then painted with multiple coats of Tnemec paint. Custom mounting hardware was developed to hide fasteners from the front of the works and each piece was loaded underground into the subway system via railcars before being lifted manually into each position on the walls by Gizmo's installation crew.
Yumei Hou is a Chinese folk artist that cuts paper and foam sculpture art. Yumei is from Jilin Province, China and became a US citizen in 2006. In 2006 she joined the San Francisco Central Subway landmark design campaign. The Sculpture depicts a traditional Chinese happy celebration that includes dancing. "Hou features characters from a Manchu wedding celebration: a bride in a sedan chair, musicians, stilt walkers, and fan dancers. Bringing further playfulness and whimsy to the composition are a kitten, birds, butterflies, and plants adorning the artwork’s border. Capturing the celebratory spirit of the Dance of the New Year, Hou features characters from the 16th century Chinese novel “Journey to the West”: the Tang Monk, the Sand Monk, the Pig, and the Monkey King. Also portrayed are the dragon and lion dances, a stilt dancer with firecrackers, a Manchu shaman holding a peace drum, and other popular folk figures."