California College of the Arts Class Enlivens Starr King Open Space

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Last semester, California College of the Arts (CCA) scholar-in-residence Chris Treggiari turned to Potrero Hill to serve as his studio class’s primary subject.   Treggiari directed students in his Making the Invisible Visible course to develop new ways to enliven Starr King Open Space.

Treggiari’s undergraduates focused on catalyzing public interaction, creating marketing concepts and ways to beautify the space. The students followed the Open Space’s values of low impact and environmental study while initiating projects to draw in neighbors, making the space feel less like an empty lot and more like a communal area. 

Over the years Open Space board members have attempted to develop a relationship with Starr King Elementary School, which is located across from the green area. These efforts have mostly been unsuccessful.  CCA students seized on this idea, and designed a simple art project that engaged Starr King with the Open Space. The art scholars taught the elementary school kids how to create birdfeeders using found materials, like tree bark and pinecones. The children had fun painting their feeders, and learning about Starr King’s landscape and wildlife. 

Today, many of the bird feeders can be seen on the Open Space, along with art pieces created by the CCA students. The artwork was inspired by Starr King’s landscape and wildflowers. The undergraduates used tree stumps as a base to blend in with the natural beauty atop the hill. Pieces include hand-painted designs with pressed flowers, and laser etched views of historic San Francisco landscapes. Solar powered string lights were installed around the space; they turn on automatically at night to illuminate walkways and benches.  

Students also provided Starr King’s board with marketing pamphlets and case studies on other open spaces in San Francisco, like Bayview Park and Golden Gate Heights, to give them fresh ideas about how to address the public when discussing Starr King’s future. 

Last month Starr King Open Space and CCA hosted a community event, at which the students discussed their projects. There was a wildflower walk, a local rancheras band performed, and guests engaged in a participatory community painting. 

“I think it’s really important to have classes like this,” said Treggiari. “This is exactly what I teach, and I always want to create a certain type of bridge between us and the community. We’re part of the neighborhood. I’m really glad we got to make a connection with CCA and the Open Space.” 

 “What you guys have done for us is you created these programs and implemented these projects that we would have never thought of,” said Julie Shumate, Starr King’s board president. “You ended up providing us with a bunch of marketing materials that we otherwise didn’t have, art on the open space that we didn’t have, and you created this event that was really special to us. Everybody on the board was really impressed with your cr eativity, your commitment and follow through on the projects. It was a really special, special thing!”