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Experience San Francisco as a Shining Gallery of Light During the Fourth Annual Illuminate SF Festival of Light

November 11, 2016 Destination North America No Comments Print Print Email Email

Now in its fourth year Illuminate SF Festival of Light shines a light on 35 dramatic, eco-friendly light art installations — nine more than last year and more than four times the number of the inaugural celebration in 2013 — accessible by public transport and free for all. From Thanksgiving 2016 through New Year’s Day 2017, art lovers are invited to embrace the power of light and tour San Francisco’s art installations by a diverse range of local and world renowned light artists. Illuminate SF Festival of Light has grown to include intimate artist talks, museum tours and a myriad of other light art activations across the city.

“San Francisco is the apex of technology and culture,” said Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of the San Francisco Travel Association, “It is our hope that visitors not only get to experience the sparkle of The Bay Lights, but the truly vibrant gallery of light that is San Francisco.”

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The 39-day celebration offers the rare opportunity to connect with local artists, with the addition of artist talks, Museum Saturdays, neon light tours and a stargazing party in the Presidio during the longest nights of the year. These free tours, talks and participatory experiences will once again highlight the newest permanent and temporary installations. This, all in addition to the city’s crown jewel, Leo Villareal’s, The Bay Lights, now permanent and dazzling and best viewed when the sun sets just before 5 p.m. throughout December.

The works come to life at dusk throughout 12 San Francisco neighborhoods with a luminescence that will turn any evening into an illuminating adventure, especially when combined with exploring San Francisco’s world-class restaurants, museums and cultural events. The light art can be found throughout the city in neighborhoods in the Embarcdero along the waterfront, in North Beach, Civic Center, Central Market, the Inner Sunset, SoMa, Potrero, Mission Bay, Bayview, Golden Gate Park, Hayes Valley, the Mission District and even flying in or out of San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

What’s New for 2016:

Nine New Installations:

  • the Diagonal of May 25, 1963 (to Constantin Brancusi), Dan Flavin (1963), SFMOMA, 5th floor, SOMA, temporary
  • “monument” for V. Tatlin, Dan Flavin (1969), SFMOMA, 5th floor, SOMA, temporary
  • untitled (to Barnett Newman) two, Dan Flavin (1971), SFMOMA, 5th floor, SOMA, temporary
  • Life Death/Knows Doesn’t Know, Bruce Nauman (1983), SFMOMA, 5th floor, SOMA, temporary
  • Anima, Jim Sanborn (2006), Alexandria Real Estate Equities, 1700 Owens St., Mission Bay
  • San Francisco at Night: Model Art Map, Lisa Gemmiti (2011), W SF Hotel, 181 Third Street, SOMA
  • Monarch, Cliff Garten (2015), Kaiser Permanente Medical Offices, 1600 Owens St., Mission Bay
  • Coalescence, Olivia Ting & Annette Jannotta (2016), 401 Van Ness, Suite 126, SFAC Main Gallery (through March 3, 2017), Civic Center, temporary
  • Trillan & Dodi, Hybocozo: Yelena Filipchuk and Serge Beaulieu (2014), Patricia’s Green, between Hayes and Fell St. on Octavia Blvd. through Nov. 8, 2017


Museum Saturdays –
Docent-led tours of light art within museums every Saturday in December. Check with museums directly for tour times and details.

  • Dec. 3, 17, 2016, 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. at SFMOMA, 151 Third St.
  • Dec. 3, 4, 11, 2016 at de Young Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr.
    • Dec. 3, 1 p.m., Three Masterpieces in Thirty Minutes, 2 p.m. Art and Architecture: Highlights of the de Young
    • Dec. 4, 1 p.m., Three Masterpieces in Thirty Minutes, 2 p.m. Art and Architecture: Highlights of the de Young
    • Dec. 11, 2 p.m., Art and Architecture: Highlights of the de Young
  • Dec. 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, 2016, 11-5 p.m. at Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St.
  • Dec. 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, 2016, 12-5 p.m. at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St.


Neon Light Tours & Talk –
Spend an evening under the neon glow with tour guides and longtime San Francisco residents Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan. Tours feature local history with architectural and graphic design insights to San Francisco’s unique legacy of neon signs. Tours usually start one hour before sunset. To register visit, www.neonbook.xyz/

  • Nov. 26, 2016, 6 p.m. – Cow Hollow
  • Dec 3, 2016, 6 p.m. – Chinatown-Union Square
  • Dec. 10, 2016 – San Francisco Neon Survivors and Lost Icons Book Event
  • Dec. 17, 2016, 6 p.m. – Market-Mission-Castro


Stargazing Party in the Presidio –

December 3, 2016, 7 p.m.-9:30 p.m. at the Presidio Main Parade Ground. Presidio Stargazing Parties are perfect for families and people of all ages interested in seeing the universe through a telescope. The San Francisco Amateur Astronomers bring telescopes and amateur astronomers to guide you, unveiling some of the night sky’s most interesting astronomical beauties. See the moon, planets, nebulae and galaxies up close and learn some of the constellations at a star tour. Bad weather cancels. For registration and information visit www.presidio.gov/events.


Three Free Guided Walking Tours, escorted by the Cultural Concierge –

Wearing steampunk-inspired, illuminated capes and hats, these ambassadors for the arts made their debut at Super Bowl City earlier this year.  During Illuminate SF Festival of Light, they will join the three free light art walking tours:

  • Dec. 1, 2016, 6 p.m. – North Beach, Embarcadero + Dogpatch Light Art Tour
  • Dec. 8, 2016, 6 p.m. – Central Market and Civic Center Light Art Tour
  • Dec. 15, 2016, 6 p.m. – Yerba Buena Museums Light Art Tour


There are 19 permanent light artworks within the city’s 49 square miles, including:

  • Constellation*, Nayland W. Blake (1996), San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin St., Civic Center
  • Three Gems, James Turrell (2005), de Young Museum, Barbro Osher Sculpture Garden, Golden Gate Park
  • Anima, Jim Sanborn (2006), Alexandria Real Estate Equities, 1700 Owens St., Mission Bay
  • Skygarden, James Turrell (2007), 90 Seventh Street facing Mission St., Central Market
  • Ocean Mirror with Fragments, Jim Campbell (2007), Saunders Court, UCSF, Inner Sunset
  • Language of the Birds*, Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn (2008), Broadway and Columbus Ave., North Beach
  • Yud, Daniel Libeskind (2008), 736 Mission St., Contemporary Jewish Museum, SOMA
  • PaRDes, Daniel Libeskind (2008), 736 Mission St., Contemporary Jewish Museum, SOMA
  • Firefly*, Ned Kahn (2012), 525 Golden Gate Ave. at Polk Street, Civic Center
  • The Bay Lights, Leo Villareal (2013), San Francisco Bay Bridge West Span, Waterfront
  • San Francisco at Night: Model Art Map, Lisa Gemmiti (2011), W SF Hotel, 181 Third Street, SOMA
  • Lumina, MADLAB (2013), 181 Third St., W San Francisco Hotel, SOMA
  • Handsignals*, Matthew Passmore/MoreLab (2014) McCoppin at Valencia St., SOMA
  • Ethereal Bodies*, Cliff Garten (2014), 1001 Potrero Ave., San Francisco General Hospital, Potrero
  • Archipelago*, Anna Valentina Murch (2014), 1001 Potrero Ave., San Francisco General Hospital, Potrero
  • “…and my room still rocks like a boat on the sea” (Caruso’s Dream), Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn (2014), 55 Ninth St., south of Market St., Central Market
  • Lamp of the Covenant, Dave Lane (2015), Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., SOMA
  • Spiral of Gratitude*, Shimon Attie and Vale Bruck (2015), 1245 Third St., Mission Bay
  • Monarch, Cliff Garten (2015), Kaiser Permanente Medical Offices, 1600 Owens St., Mission Bay


Six permanent light art installations at San Francisco International Airport include:

  • Ceiling Flood*, Keith Sonnier (1999), International Terminal, Boarding Area G, Level 2, Post-Security
  • Four Sculptural Light Reflectors*, James Carpenter (2000), International Terminal, Main Hall, Level 3, Pre-Security
  • Light Beams for the Sky of a Transfer Corridor*, Vito Acconci (2000), International Terminal, A-G, Level 2, Pre-Security
  • Wind Portal*, Ned Kahn (2000), International Terminal between BART Station and AirTrain
  • Spirogyrate*, Eric Staller (2014), Terminal 3, Boarding Area E, Level 2, Post-Security
  • Sky*, Merge Conceptual Design (2014), Terminal 3, Boarding Area E, Level 2, Post-Security


Five temporary light art installations in San Francisco include:

  • Buckyball, Leo Villareal (2012), Embarcadero Pier 14 at Mission St. through February 26, 2017
  • Murmur Wall, Future Cities Lab (2014), 701 Mission St., YBCA through May 31, 2017
  • Bayview Rise, Haddad-Drugan (2014), Pier 92 near Third St. and Cargo Way through 2019
  • Coalescence, Olivia Ting and Annette Jannotta (2016), 401 Van Ness, Suite 126, SFAC Main Gallery through March 4, 2017, Civic Center
  • Trillan & Dodi, Hybocozo: Yelena Filipchuk and Serge Beaulieu (2014), Patricia’s Green, between Hayes and Fell St. on Octavia Blvd. through Nov. 8, 2017


Four temporary light art installations on view in San Francisco Museum of Modern Art include:

  • the Diagonal of May 25, 1963 (to Constantin Brancusi), Dan Flavin (1963), SFMOMA, Floor 5, SOMA
  • “monument” for V. Tatlin, Dan Flavin (1969), SFMOMA, Floor 5, SOMA
  • untitled (to Barnett Newman) two (1971), Dan Flavin, SFMOMA, Floor 5, SOMA
  • Life Death/Knows Doesn’t Know (1983), Bruce Nauman, SFMOMA, Floor 5, SOMA


Mobile light art in San Francisco include:

  • Urban UFOs: Lightmobile & Bubble Boat, Eric Staller (1985,1986), Random sightings during Illuminate SF Festival of Light


San Francisco-based companies helping to make Illuminate SF Festival of Light possible include:

  • IlluminateSF.com was made possible by Storied.co. The visually stunning website features photographs, videos, interactive and downloadable light art maps, events listings, artist information, best viewing and more to make the artworks easy and accessible.
  • The San Francisco Travel Association worked closely with Lumio founder and lighting designer Max Gunawan to bring Illuminate SF Festival of Light to life through a video featuring the event.  Lumio was created from a desire to give people the freedom to experience beautiful lighting wherever they are. Based in San Francisco, Gunawan spent 10 years as an architect before launching Lumio. Named one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Crowdfunded Companies by Entrepreneur magazine in 2013, his work employs minimal, clean-line design and centers on optimizing the use of small spaces.

Illuminate SF and Illuminate SF Festival of Light are presented by the San Francisco Travel Association in collaboration with local civic, arts and cultural partners.

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