SAN FRANCISCO — Today the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) brought another piece of public art to the city’s Bayview neighborhood, unveiling a new mural along Evans Avenue at the Southeast Treatment Plant. Jamari’s Journey, by San Francisco artist Nancy Cato, serves as the third in a series of artworks that use temporary construction fencing around the wastewater treatment plant to exhibit new work by local artists.
“The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is proud to support local artists and local communities,” said SFPUC General Manager Dennis Herrera. “This project is an example of being creative in our approach to capital improvements. Even while under construction, we want our work to benefit the community by creating shared experiences through public art to connect people and places. This is about investing in public art and then aligning that investment with the local community and the environment to bring people together.”
As part of the Sewer System Improvement Program (SSIP), the SFPUC is investing over $3 billion to modernize the aging Southeast Treatment Plant, including upgrading the Headworks Facility where the first step in the wastewater treatment process occurs. Recognizing the important role of art in the community, this series of murals was made possible by San Francisco's 2%-for-art program which allocates 2% of above-ground construction costs from the Headworks Facility project upgrades towards commissioning and integrating arts and cultural elements into the new facilities as well as during construction. The SFPUC partners with the SFAC to ensure the funds support local artists, and recognize and celebrate the people, values, and history of the Bayview-Hunters Point community.
As a result of this partnership, a temporary public art program was launched in 2020 in conjunction with the Headworks Facility Project to feature the work of four local artists for a period of one year each through summer 2024. As part of their project, each artist engages with Bayview-Hunters Point community youth, seniors, and schools in the development of their artwork designs.
For this third installation in the series, artist Nancy Cato’s illustration uses humor, wit, and compassion to reflect the Black experience and engage everyday people in serious social conversations. Cato’s panelized narrative mural tells the story of Jamari, a young child who is frustrated with the oppressive forces around him—pollution, violence, gentrification, and displacement. To escape these injustices, Jamari creates a portal to the Universe, where he can breathe and find serenity. When called home by his mother, Jamari, who now embodies the Universe, brings this new-found inner peace with him.
“The San Francisco Arts Commission is thrilled to be able to partner and work closely with the Public Utilities Commission to bring this temporary public art program to the Bayview as part of the Southeast Treatment Plant project,” said SFAC Director of Cultural Affairs, Ralph Remington. “With the development of the Bayview Arts Master Plan and creation of the Bayview Artist Registry, we have been able to highlight and showcase the phenomenal artwork of so many talented local artists, such as Nancy Cato, that are truly reflective of the community and the diversity of voices and histories that enliven and comprise our city.”
“The subject matter of my work features individual characters while also representing issues impacting the broader community. This invites the viewer into an environment that hopefully becomes their own,” said Nancy Cato. “My art is a reflection of the Black experience. It is my responsibility to present my work and experiences to our community - especially youth, allowing them to see their own lives in my art.”
Cato’s mural will be on view for one year until December 2023. The SFPUC and SFAC will then unveil the fourth and final installment of this temporary public art program.
Provided by SFAC and SFPUC in conjunction with this program is an annual summer internship hosted by the printing house responsible for producing the temporary murals. Offered to Bayview-Hunters Point high school students in partnership with Young Community Developers—a non-profit that empowers Bayview-Hunters Point residents by providing them with education opportunities, workforce development training, and social services—the internship supports the development of new professional and technical skills associated with the pre-production, production, and implementation of the temporary murals.
About Artist Nancy Cato
Cato was born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut, and has been creating whimsical and socially conscious illustrations for the past 12 years. In 2000, she started her own company, Cato Creations, designing t-shirts, greeting cards, and logos for local businesses. She is a member of the 3.9 Art Collective, a collective that highlights the work and presence of African American artists in San Francisco. She has engaged the Bayview community as an artist through a 3.9 Art Collective group show at the Bayview Opera House, helping Bayview youth create their own artwork on t-shirts during the 3rd on Third events, and is a regular contributor to the 3.9 Art Collective Gallery at the Hunters Point Shipyard during Open Studios.
About Construction at the Southeast Treatment Plant
The Southeast Treatment Plant (SEP) is San Francisco’s largest wastewater facility, treating nearly 80% of the City’s wastewater flow. Through the SFPUC’s Sewer System Improvement Program (SSIP), the SEP is undergoing a $3 billion investment to improve the plant’s reliability, replace aging infrastructure, reduce odors, and increase seismic resilience. When complete, the plant will look better, smell better, and work better for the community and entire city.
The New Headworks Facility Project is replacing the outdated facility responsible for beginning the treatment process, removing debris (such as baby wipes) and grit (like sand) from the wastewater stream, and protecting downstream equipment. The new Headworks Facility will use modern, efficient technologies to improve the treatment process and odor control within a smaller, more compact facility. Project completion is anticipated in 2024.
About the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is a department of the City and County of San Francisco. It delivers drinking water to 2.7 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area, collects and treats wastewater for the City and County of San Francisco, and generates clean power for municipal buildings, residents, and businesses. Our mission is to provide our customers with high-quality, efficient and reliable water, power, and sewer services in a manner that values environmental and community interests and sustains the resources entrusted to our care. Learn more at www.sfwater.org.
About the San Francisco Arts Commission
The San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) is the City agency that champions the arts as essential to daily life by investing in a vibrant arts community, enlivening the urban environment, and shaping innovative cultural policy. Our programs include: Civic Art Collection, Civic Design Review, Community Investments, Public Art, SFAC Galleries, and Art Vendor Licensing. To learn more about the agency and other public art opportunities, visit www.sfartscommission.org.
To learn more about the SFPUC’s public art efforts, visit the agency’s art webpage.
For more information about artist Nancy Cato and her work, click here.