13 years ago San Francisco public artist Brian Goggin inspired 100 or so of his friends to turn the exterior of the derelict Hugo Hotel in SF's South of Market District into a surreal sculpture of defenestrating furniture and other household items.
Originally intended as a six month run, Defenestration survives today - though in much need of repair - this despite the SF Redevelopment Agency's recent eminent domain takeover of the building.
More on the flip.
[also, click through to articles for photos of the piece]
Last September, a San Francisco jury placed the value of the Hugo Hotel at $4.6 million and the City took title to the building soon thereafter - eventually to be replaced by affordable housing.
And, the fate of Defenestration hung in the balance.
Then came Operation Save Defenestration.
First, I wrote a letter to the SF Chronicle editor after its article about the jury award failed to mention the iconic sculpture, and it wound up getting published:
Since 1997, tourists and locals alike have gawked, gasped and guffawed at the renowned Defenestration - numerous household items suspended in the act of escaping the building. Yet your article covering the property's eminent domain case makes scant mention of the significant art piece and its legacy. This, despite Defenestration's image having appeared in your paper multiple times over the years.
Here's hoping the Redevelopment Agency gives Defenestration more recognition and gracefully incorporates some of its components into a permanent installation. Keep the spirit and legacy of Defenestration alive - that creative spark might very well help the agency achieve its revitalization goals.
A month or so later, Goggin and his legal team convinced the Redevelopment Agency's staff to support keeping the piece up for at least another 18 months while a developer was chosen. In December, the Agency's Commission approved the deal:
The abandoned Hugo Hotel may not be long for this world, but the sofa, bed and other furniture that adorn its facade will be around as long as it is.
The city's Redevelopment Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to allow artist Brian Goggin's sculptural mural to remain intact until the former tenement building at the corner of Sixth and Howard streets is demolished to make way for affordable housing.
The SF Chronicle reports today,
"Operation Restore 'Defenestration,' " an exhibition that kicks off this evening at 1:AM Gallery, just across Howard Street from the Hugo, to rally financial and other support for getting the outdoor work back into shape. The Black Rock Arts Foundation is serving as fiscal sponsor of the fundraising effort.
"We're trying to raise $75,000," Goggin said, "most of it going to equipment rental, insurance and materials. It's a shoestring budget to try and keep a shoestring project together."
We're $15,000 along and gaining steam. If you care to support the effort, go here.
Long live public art!