Monday, June 4, 2012

Abandoned School of the Arts: Part 2. The Things They Left There

Inside and out, the remains of the San Francisco School of the Arts, abandoned since 2002, intersect with the belongings of an ever changing rotation of squatters.  Though more secure since a crackdown in early 2010, and the looming demolition of the property following its acquisition by SF State this April, the school remains cluttered with the two groups' dueling patinas. 

Inside, out of date text books share space with improvised bed rooms formed out of rearranged book cases and salvaged mattress.  Class room cabinets and teacher’s desks hold piles of clothing and personal hygiene products.  

A swamp of empty muscle milk containers hints at a fortuitous dumpster dive...

...while an empty milk carton lies discarded by a long gone student. 

A pile of clothes, luggage and trash is the only memory left by some long since vacated tenant.  

"Be back...soon.  Wait for me.  Get warm and comfy  Love Justin.".

Demolition is planned for sometime this summer, following which the school will be converted first into a sporting green, and then into a Clinical Sciences building. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Abandoned School of the Arts: Part 1. The Place That was Left There

On April 26th, following a ten year legal battle, the former site of the San Francisco School of the Arts was purchased by San Francisco State University.  The site had been vacant since 2002 and, despite repeated attempts to secure the property, continued to be a frequent stopping point for squatters and graffiti taggers.  The site remains a restricted gallery for the work of these outsider artists, with numerous murals displayed outside and within the 2.5 acre campus. 

In some places, the graffiti takes on a mean spirited tone, defacing the work of earlier artists.

More often, the distinction between art added before and after the abandonment of the site becomes unclear.  Many of the school's walls retain the projects of its students and, as with this mural, there is little indication as to the piece's true origins.  Is this "art" created before 2002, or "vandalism" added on afterwards?  

In early 2010, an article was published through SF State’s X-Press magazine, detailing the status of the property.  Soon after, perhaps because of the increase in exposure, the broken windows and squatter entrances were boarded up again, the door handles secured with screws and metal plates.      

In the rear of the one of the court yards, someone has placed a chair and carpet at the foot of a cement gorilla statue, as if requesting an audience with the space's final remaining inhabitant.  Its forlorn, simian caretaker. 

Stay tuned for part 2, in which we take a closer look at the objects left behind since the school's abandonment.