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Ray Beldner and Loretta Gargan collaborating with the San Francisco Arts Education Project

Award: $35,000 Visual Arts grant awarded in 1997

Completed: May 1998

Visual artist Ray Beldner and landscape architect Loretta Gargan collaborated with the San Francisco Arts Education Project, and students and faculty of Francisco Middle School on the creation of a sanctuary garden in a formerly abandoned courtyard at the middle school.  This project culminated in the garden itself, an exhibit of the developing work at the San Francisco Art Institute, and “Garden Care,” a source book of lesson plans and ideas for ongoing use of the garden as an educational space.

Many of the students attending Francisco Middle School live in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, Chinatown, or the housing projects in North Beach—generally in small apartments without decks or yards.  The artists sought to create with them a beautiful, peaceful garden that incorporated their ideas. The finished piece features a fountain/waterfall, a pathway suggesting a creek, murals by the children, butterfly-attracting plants, native plants, and an outdoor classroom.

Recycling and re-use of materials is a strong theme in many works by Ray Beldner.  At the time this grant was awarded, he had collaborated with many artists and community groups. Two major works were Winds of Change at the Fairfield Center Gallery; and Playland Revisited, commemorating the former amusement park, Playland-at-the-Beach.

Landscape architect Loretta Gargan had worked on projects of varying scope, including community planning, corporate roof gardens, the AIDS Memorial Grove in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, and Marin General Hospital’s Healing Garden.

The San Francisco Art Education Project works to provide participatory arts experiences to the children of San Francisco so they are better equipped to make use of their creative abilities in all aspects of their lives. It serves schools throughout the San Francisco Unified School District.