Intersection of sports and arts score points for San Francisco
By: Alexandra Cave
San Francisco 49ers Vernon Davis. Photo by: Michael Amici
The 49ers’ return to the Super Bowl is a perfect kickoff to an unforgettable year in sports for San Francisco. In March, the finals of the World Baseball Classic will be held at AT&T Park, home of the 2012 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants. This summer, America’s Cup winner Oracle Team USA will defend their title when the world’s fastest sailing boats race on San Francisco Bay. And the San Francisco Bulls hockey team will begin their second season at the Cow Palace in the fall.
At the same time, San Francisco’s arts and cultural scene is experiencing an extraordinary period of innovation. SFJAZZ has opened their new home, the only freestanding performance venue in the U.S. built specifically for jazz. The Exploratorium, the original hands-on museum of science, art, and human perception will move to its new waterfront home at Pier 15 on April 17. In March, The Bay Lights installation will begin illuminating the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge for the next two years.
Only in San Francisco would these distinct worlds - athletics and the arts – converge in ways that seem as natural as, well, tossing a ball or humming a tune. Here are a few examples of how these two worlds intercept with results that reveal San Francisco’s unique personality.
ATHLETES AS ARTISTS
This San Francisco 49ers tight end isn’t restricted to the gridiron. The gifted professional athlete is also a trained visual artist. From his days as an Art Studio major at the University of Maryland, Davis has maintained his connection to the fine arts as an avid painter and collector.
This past December, Davis opened Gallery 85 in San Jose’s Santana Row. Showcasing work from his own collection as well as that of local artists, Gallery 85 was a natural component to Davis’ art foundation, The Vernon Davis Foundation for the Arts, which aims to promote art education and art appreciation among youth from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The newly opened gallery also dovetails nicely with his interior design firm, Modern Class Design, a full service fine arts and interior design company. Its mission to expand into urban renewal and inner city community initiatives has begun with collaboration with the non-profit agency EAH Housing to design a community recreation center in the San Francisco Bay Area’s city of Richmond, and with the Museum of Design in Atlanta (MODA) to benefit camp MODA’s art-centric youth outreach program.
Leonard Davis spends his Sundays in the fall blocking defenders for the San Francisco 49ers, but in the offseason, he works his trade as the bass guitar player in the heavy metal band “Free Reign.” Davis formed his band during his time with the Dallas Cowboys alongside teammates Mark Colombo and Cory Procter. The trio, along with guitarist Justin Chapman, released their first album in 2009. Davis describes the band’s sound as having its own flavor, while his musical taste varies from rock to country to blues to rap.
A 13-year MLB veteran, San Francisco Giants pitcher Barry Zito is also an accomplished songwriter and has always had a love for the stage. Zito’s father Joe is a classically trained musician and was a conductor/composer for Nat King Cole. Barry’s late mother, Roberta, performed with the Merry Young Souls, the backup singers for Cole. Most recently, Zito co-wrote the song "ButterFlies" that was featured in the DreamWorks movie A Thousand Words with Eddie Murphy.
Tim Flannery is the third base coach of the San Francisco Giants during much of the year. But when he isn’t waving home runners for the “Gs”, he is playing G-chords (and Cs, and Ds). The man they call Flan is an acclaimed singer/songwriter and philanthropist whose music has been described as Americana, steeped in both folk and bluegrass influences, along with music from his Celtic roots.
While the Giants look forward to Orange and Black October, many music lovers can’t wait until the offseason; that’s when Tim Flannery the singer and songwriter plays with a joy that defines both the man and his music.
VENUES BLENDING SPORTS AND CULTURE
America’s Cup Concert Series
Live music will be an important part of the internationally renowned America’s Cup sailing regatta this year. The America’s Cup and Live Nation will present the America’s Cup Concert Series at the America’s Cup Pavilion, located between Piers 27/29. The purpose-built Pavilion will host multiple events in the summer of 2013 in San Francisco’s first outdoor, waterfront concert venue. Multi-Grammy award-winning musician Sting is the first headline act to be announced and will perform on June 2, 2013. The America’s Cup Concert Series will run throughout the summer of 2013 and coincide with the Louis Vuitton Cup (the America’s Cup Challenger Series), the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup and the America’s Cup Finals.
Opera in the Park is a Home Run
Among the most popular events at AT&T Park, outside of Giants games are the “Opera in the Park” simulcasts of live performances by the San Francisco Opera. More than 27,000 of music lovers attend the free performance and fill not only the field but a large portion of the stadium. What could be better than “Carmen” and a cold beer?
Future Golden State Warriors Arena
It's hard to imagine a pair of high-profile building projects less obviously alike than the basketball arena proposed for a 13-acre pier along the Embarcadero and the mid-block addition to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. But both now share the same architect: Snøhetta.
The Golden State Warriors have selected the fast-rising firm Snøhetta as design architect for the arena that the team seeks to open on Piers 30-32, just south of the Bay Bridge. The new arena – which will serve as a venue for sports, entertainment and other events – is projected to open by the start of the 2017 season.
SFMOMA will begin their transformation in the summer of 2013 and will re-emerge in 2016 with triple the space, reinforcing its prominence in the world of modern art. In the meantime SFMOMA is developing a dynamic slate of collaborative and traveling museum exhibitions, site-specific installations, outdoor commissions, and neighborhood festivals that will unfold throughout the Bay Area and beyond during construction.
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