Plano de San Francisco

Building an Arts Community in Portola District

Plano de San Francisco
Plano de San Francisco

Actually I think the couple profiled, Kate Connell and Oscar Melara,  in this SF Chronicle Article did much more than build an arts community in the Portola, I think they helped build community in the area and awareness create of the district through their efforts:

First they offered their house as a polling place, by way of a “community engagement installation,” as Connell describes it. Then they collected oral histories from voters they met while staffing the polls. Those led to a board game, two graphic novels, an interactive diorama with black-and-white postcards, a coloring book for kids and a neighborhood atlas for adults.

It all amounts to a nine-station installation on display through Feb. 25 at the sunny new Portola branch of the San Francisco Public Library. “Crossing the Street” is a portrait in mixed media that can all be held in your hands. Pieces of the portrait, in the form of rolled-up poster-size art maps, can even be held in your hands as you walk out the door.

If you don’t know where the Portola is or much about it, you’re not alone.  I’m surprised by how few people have explored the area, eaten on San Bruno Avenue or walked in vast wilds of McLaren Park.

The show represents “layers and layers of perspective on one neighborhood,” says Connell, while walking through the library’s reading room on a recent afternoon. “We’re invisible out here. If you live in North Beach, you see it represented all the time. Here there is nothing.”

The Portola (accent on the first syllable) is a triangular district on the southeast side of town, bordered by Highway 101 and Interstate 280 to the east and north, and McLaren Park to the west and south. [More…]

Perhaps this is your opportunity to go see the artwork, and meet another neighborhood in this amazing and diverse city of ours.  Consider going to see Crossing the Street: Artwork about the Portola district. Through Feb. 25. Portola Branch Library, 380 Bacon St., S.F. Closed Mondays.

Rita Roti is a broker / assistant manager at Zephyr and can be reached at

CalBRE #01224570

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