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Leah Levy and five landscape architects collaborating with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Award: $35,000 Visual Arts grant awarded in 1998
Presented: May 5-October 14, 2001

Working with five acclaimed landscape architects, independent curator Leah Levy and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art‘s (SFMOMA’s) then Curator of Architecture and Design, Aaron Betsky, created Revelatory Landscapes. Five site-specific projects placed around the Bay Area explored the urban landscape as a place that can be mined to reveal the history, social significance, and natural properties of land. They were accompanied by a related exhibition, catalogue, and web site. The curators wrote:

“These works on the land have evolved in a critical manner and at a particular location: at the edge of the urban scene. These edges happen not just at the borders of the cities, in the intermediate zones between urban and suburban, but also within the city. They are found where redevelopment leaves scars, where earthquake faults or wetlands open space up, or where zoning creates fissures in the urban fabric. 

The five projects and collaborating teams were:

  • Red Is Out, an exploration by ADOBE LA of the idea of the floating gardens of pre-Columbian Mexico. It was placed in the Mission Bay neighborhood at the site of Mission Creek.
  • Wind, Sound, and Movement, a collaboration among Kathryn Gustafson, Jaimi Baer, and Conger Moss Guillard Landscape Architecture, at Candlestick Point in San Francisco, examined natural qualities of a remnant of natural landscape in an urban environment.
  • Markings, (see photograph) a collaboration among George Hargreaves and Mary Margaret Jones of Hargreaves Associates and artist Julian Lang was placed in a two-and-a-half acre site under Interstate 280 near to where it crosses Highway 87 in San Jose. The area was once inhabited by the Chocheño tribal group of the Costanoan Indians.
  • Landscape in Blue–Entropy in the Landscape, a collaboration among Hood Design, composer Olly Wilson, and artist Douglas Hollis, offered a series of installations in a three-block-long site along Seventh Street in West Oakland that uncovered the area’s history as the center of a vibrant blues and jazz scene in the 1930s and 40s.
  • Coastlines, a collaboration among Tom Leader of Tom Leader Studio and landscape planners Anurahda Mathur and Dilip da Cunha at Aquatic Park in Berkeley, evolved from Leader’s observation that the California coast can be seen as an interaction between two systems of alignments–the linear, north-south system that includes the natural elements of the fault lines, mountains, and shorelines; and an east-west system that includes the path of wind and fog and the movement of people.

Leah Levy has worked as an independent curator since 1985. She was founding curator of the internationally recognized Capp Street Project artist-in-residency program, working with residents from the inception to the realization of every project from 1983-85. She is Co-trustee of the Jay DeFeo Trust.