Rebar is hiring an Artist!
Rebar seeks an outstanding individual to join our growing team of professional artists and designers!
Rebar is a small and growing art and design studio located in San Francisco’s Mission District. Our projects occupy the intersection of art, design and ecology, but span many disciplines and often engage outside collaborators. Architecture, landscape and art practice are the core skillsets with which we approach the world. Though our image is often rightly associated with guerrilla tactics, we have developed a professional art and design studio that explores some of the most interesting projects in the contemporary urban landscape. Our clients include museums, public agencies, private companies, neighborhood groups, architects and developers and arts organizations.
Rebar’s ongoing art practice often involves a method of sampling and remixing, similar to the methods employed by DJs. Our artwork radically decontextualizes ordinary objects and materials as a strategy for exploring shared structures of cultural symbolism and to generate new forms of meaning. This conceptual approach has resulted in artworks rendered in a diverse variety of media, including earthworks, monumental steel sculpture and temporary performance installation.
Current Opening: Associate Artist (3-4 days/week contract position to start, with opportunity to become full-time employee)
To expand our art practice, we are seeking energetic and well-rounded applicants who have a passion for artmaking and exceptional spatial/visual communication skills to turn art concepts into masterfully constructed artworks. The right candidate operates in the sweet spot of professionalism, confidence, imagination and a sense of humor.
Skills and Qualifications
• MFA/MID/Master’s Degree in industrial design, sculpture, architecture or other material-based art practice
• 2+ years work experience in a professional art and/or design context
• Excellent ability to communicate and develop ideas through hand sketching
• Willingness to explore and expand Rebar’s conceptual approach to artmaking
• Fluency in 3D surface modeling program (Sketchup, Rhino) and solid modeling (Solidworks)
• Knowledge and ability to render (Maxwell, Vray, etc.) and compose professional presentations in Adobe CS
• Familiarity with current materials, products and finishes related to permanent artwork sited in public spaces
• Understanding of building and fabrication processes
• Understanding of standard design practices including professional communication, record keeping, etc.
• Knowledge of budgeting and project management procedures
• Experience managing others desirable but not required
3. How to Apply:
A) Download the PDF for the position here.
B) Submit all of the information requested in the PDF as directed
C) The position remains open until filled. No Phone calls please!
Rebar is an equal opportunity employer and does not select its job applicants or employees based upon race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, marital status, gender, sexual orientation, age or disability status.
For more than a year, Rebar has been working on a monumental public art piece for Portland Tri-Met’s Clinton Street station, a stop along Portland’s new Portland-Milwaukie light rail line. The design is finalized and we are please to unveil the piece here:
Named “Intersection,” the sculpture comprises repurposed surplus light rail track extracted from a location mere feet from the sculpture site. The intersecting geometry is inspired by the abstract topological subway maps you see on train platforms the world over. At night, the sculpture will be lit for dynamic views of the piece and to help it become a way finding landmark for folks in the Brooklyn or HAND neighborhoods who are looking to catch the train.
How do you get rail (which is called “light rail” though it weighs well over 100 lbs per foot) to bend at such impossible angles? We’re not giving away any secrets, but suffice it to say Portland fabricator and artist Jim Schmidt and his team at Art & Design Works, are alchemists, and may well be wizards too. We have also been pleased to collaborate on the piece with the excellent structural engineers at Grummel Engineering and the talented designers and engineers at Interface Engineering, who did the lighting design. Look for the piece to be standing tall sometime in 2015!
Rail like it’s never been bent before
Walklet is in! Rebar’s newest Pavement to Parks project hits the ground on 22nd Street in San Francisco
We’re covering this a little late on our own blog, but in case you haven’t caught on a posting elsewhere, Rebar’s prototype for modular, extensible, iterative public space in the parking lane is now in use in the Mission District. This is the latest installation for San Francisco’s Pavement to Parks program. See it for yourself at 22nd Street and Bartlett Street, in front of Cafe Revolution, Escape From New York Pizza, and Lolo.
We are developing “Walklet”–a plug-and-play system that makes it easy to instantly create a pedestrian public space in a parking lane (which San Francisco is developing a new permit for as we write). Retail inquiries welcome as we are going into production now. Email us through the product’s new website.
Right as the dust began to settle in our newly acquired studio space and workshop, we we’re informed by our landlord that a new large tenant was seeking to occupy the rest of the space in our building. In fact, they needed so much room that they desired to engulf our new studio into their production and distribution operation.
This led to some hard feelings among the ‘Bars seeing as this was our first home, having spent the previous five years meeting and hanging out in local bars and relying on the generosity of a certain fantastic local community gallery.
After a month or so of negotiations we came up with the idea of keeping our current mezzanine loft area with all its irreplaceable character of exposed wooden beams and brick, and expanding our workshop space into the adjacent studio.
So while our new neighbor tenant has engulfed the previous rebar shopspace, we are in the process of engulfing the adjacent tatoo parlor and shop space into a new, labyrinthine collection of shops, storefronts, mezzanines and lofts that will soon make up the Rebar Studio.
Having spent so much time thinking about how outdoor public space is a physical manifestation of social codes, and devoting our practice to exploring the niches, loopholes and voids in the public realm, its enlightening to learn through the visceral experince of building remodeling how plastic the built environment is.
How walls and ceilings can shift and move according to molten sets of values, economies, and relationships.
We look forward to returning from Paris to our new space, or collection of spaces, that will seemingly be quite appropriate for the diverse and dynamic practice that the new Rebar studio is growing to support.
Rebar in print–Insurgent Public Space: Guerrilla Urbanism and the Remaking of the Contemporary Cities
Rebar’s Blaine Merker authored a chapter for a forthcoming book published by Routledge called Insurgent Public Space: Guerrilla Urbanism and the Remaking of Contemporary Cities, edited by Jeff Hou from the University of Washington’s landscape architecture department and available April 19, 2010. From the publisher’s jacket summary:
In cities around the world, individuals and groups are reclaiming and creating urban sites, temporary spaces and informal gathering places. These ‘insurgent public spaces’ challenge conventional views of how urban areas are defined and used, and how they can transform the city environment. No longer confined to traditional public areas like neighbourhood parks and public plazas, these guerrilla spaces express the alternative social and spatial relationships in our changing cities.
With nearly 20 illustrated case studies, this volume shows how instances of insurgent public space occur across the world. Examples range from community gardening in Seattle and Los Angeles, street dancing in Beijing, to the transformation of parking spaces into temporary parks in San Francisco.
Drawing on the experiences and knowledge of individuals extensively engaged in the actual implementation of these spaces, Insurgent Public Space is a unique cross-disciplinary approach to the study of public space use, and how it is utilised in the contemporary, urban world. Appealing to professionals and students in both urban studies and more social courses, Hou has brought together valuable commentaries on an area of urbanism which has, up until now, been largely ignored.
Hey, looks like a certain project made it onto the dust jacket… So pre-order your copies on Amazon now and check out Rebar’s ink under the section titled “Appropriating”, along with other great case studies in Beijing, LA, Berlin, Taiwan, East St. Louis and brothels around the world.
Rebar is very excited to be collaborating with Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge, an extraordinary international conservation biology non-profit organization, to design some habitat restoration elements for Año Nuevo Island, a marine environment heavily altered by human intervention, and one of only four island systems off the coast of California.
From 1872 through the 1940s, Año Nuevo Island was an operative Coast Guard lighthouse station, and it seems like it was a pretty cushy gig: In addition to a steel frame lighthouse, island infrastructure included a Victorian mansion, outbuildings, an elaborate non-native garden, a cistern and a rail system. In 1948, an automated buoy replaced the lighthouse, the island was effectively abandoned by humans, and the “natural” world began its inexorable reclamation process. But the island still carries the evidence of successive human interventions: The lighthouse has collapsed into a rusting steel hulk, the cistern has fractured. The Victorian home is actually faring pretty well, under the circumstances.
The current ecological dynamics of the island have substantially degraded the habitat of two burrowing seabirds, both of which are state-listed “species of concern” — the Rhinoceros Auklet and the Cassin’s Auklet. The marine terrace soil that composes the center of the island is rapidly disappearing due to extensive landscape alterations during the “lighthouse” era, natural erosion, and sporadically high California sea lion densities. The approximately 300 breeding Auklets that rear their young in underground burrows depend upon undisturbed soil and soil-stabilizing vegetation. If left untouched, the habitat for these Auklets will degrade further until it is no longer a viable breeding ground. This is where we come in.
Led by Oikonos, a cross-disciplinary team of ecologists, habitat restoration experts, artists, designers and government agencies are collaborating to restore the degraded habitat for these nesting seabirds. Once the habitat has been successfully protected from marine mammal incursion, the team will rehabilitate the native plant community to reduce erosion, provide sustainable Auklet breeding habitat and, ultimately, increase the biodiversity of this unique island ecosystem.
The Año Nuevo Island habitat restoration project includes two main design elements. To separate the sizeable sea lion population from critical bird breeding areas, Rebar is designing and constructing a series of Habitat Walls at strategic locations around the island. In addition, to facilitate the seabird species nesting and breeding while the native flora restoration is ongoing, Rebar will develop a system of Nest Modules to replace the current human-made modules, which are constructed from plywood and PVC plastic piping.
To develop the Nest Modules, we are teaching a interdisciplinary design course through the ENGAGE program at the Center for Art and Public Life at the California College of the Arts. The course will be taught through the Ceramics Department with Nathan Lynch, the department chair, a very talented artist and, as you can see by his fine art work, just the perfect artist for a bird habitat project such as this.
We are excited to harness the design talents of CCA students to help solve this challenging design problem. We will also be investigating the role of the artist and designer in helping structure or mediate interpretations of “nature” and “restoration ecology” within a broader framework of the environmental movement, human interactions with natural landscapes, ideas of wilderness, the nature preserve, national parks and so forth. Basically, it’s another look at how human imagination and systems of regulation, organization and control are implemented in the landscape. It’s very Rebar.
We’ll post more as the project develops.
Until then, please check out the Año Nuevo Island Restoration Project website.
It’s official–Rebar has been selected by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency to create artwork for the new Hilltop Park at Hunter’s Point, in San Francisco, CA. The new piece, which we call Gigantry in honor of its gigantically miniature proportions, is a smaller version of Hunter’s Point’s iconic, 500-foot high gantry crane for servicing battleship guns–a feature that can be seen for miles around the Bay Area. Gigantry can be climbed on, turning the symbol of warfare (and the cultural dominance of the former Navy base) around to serve the playful impulses of human beings, especially the little ones. In our proposal we explained that Gigantry — in conjunction with the environmental remediation going on at the Navy Shipyard
is intended to signify the beginning of a process of social remediation, symbolically confronting this troubling legacy and reclaiming a visual landscape that has been dominated for decades by military infrastructure.
One interesting fact about the gantry crane is that 200-foot tower on top was used to test missile launches over the San Francisco Bay in the 1950s. Essentially, dummy missiles (that is, ones without nuclear warheads) were tethered to the tower with a length of cable so that they wouldn’t careen into the city of Oakland. How times have changed: in addition to its climbability, and we think this is quite neat, Gigantry can perfectly occlude the giant gantry crane, creating a kind of optical illusion that, we hope, transform children into building-dominating supermonsters. Or at least make them feel that way.
More on the Hunter’s Point art program is here, and there are pictures of the site and the gantry crane here and here. We’ll take the sculpture into production this year and will be installed by Summer 2011.
Rebar recently developed a proposal (an awesome proposal, we think) for art at the transit hub of Church and Duboce streets in SF at the invitation of the SF Arts Commission. The basic idea was to re-use the streetcar rail that is being torn out as a part of the streetscape redesign and manufacture them into abstract, industrial street furniture for use by the patrons waiting for Muni. From the propsoal description:
Off the Rails is a re-use and re-imagining of the venerable rails that have kept Muni trains moving through Duboce Triangle for the last 40 years. Light rail tracks—recycled from the construction project that is re-shaping the streetscape—are transformed into gestural art pieces that define the space of the boarding island, offer a grounding point for commuters to pause and rest against, and create a distinctive gateway element for the neighborhood. They are reminders of the mutability of infrastructure and their clean, industrial lines speak to the brawn of the commuter system that makes Duboce Triangle the transit-first residential nexus and a model for neighborhoods across the city.
The three sculptures are composed of six stacked rails each, approximately 15 feet long, rising obliquely out of the boarding platform almost as if they were lifting themselves out of the pavement, then diving back into the ground again. Suddenly along their length, the parallel rails bend, separating and converging to create sculptural “moments”: a seat for one, a plank to lean against, a place to tie your shoe.
Now while the idea wasn’t ultimately picked by the SF Arts Commission (congrats to Primitivo Suarez-Wolfe, who was selected for the commission), we thought we’d post it here until it finds a home somewhere…for real, we’d love to see some old rail re-bent into a new transit station somewhere. Until then, you can read our public proposal here.
Our friend Scott Burnham just released a new article for the Royal Society of the Arts titled “Finding the Truth in Systems: In Praise of Design Hacking”, with a perspective on design that is, at least for now, the outsider’s view in traditional design thought. (Scott commissioned Urban Play in Amsterdam with Droog Design last year.) We are happy that Rebar’s projects serve as part of his argument in the article (available as a pdf here) because even though we haven’t much used the term hacking to describe our approach, it fits. According to Scott,
Hacking finds the truth in systems. The first thing software hackers do when they gain access to a program’s source code is explore and share hidden code and functions not documented by the original programmers. When design hackers open and take apart products to re-work them, the type and quality of wood found beneath the paint or the interior parts used are discussed widely. Hacking brings the inner realities of products to the surface. It reveals the complete aesthetic and exposes secrets.
True that… in fact, this gets at one of the apocryphal associations behind the name Rebar–the hidden structure of everyday things. Hacking, whether by way of remixing or repurposing, exposes hidden structures and in doing so, creates new meanings.
One of the other actors mentioned in Scott’s article is Santiago Cirugeda, a Spanish architect/artist working in the loopholes of law and the interstitial, liminal and transitory spaces of the city. He has a knack for marrying the performative and the architectural with some captivating projects. Back in 1997, Cirugeda was looking for a way to install a playground in Seville, but after being turned down by the planning authority he applied for a dumpster permit and built the playground inside the dumpster. The description of the methods for doing this are posted, open source, on his website, Recetas Urbanas. Total cost for the permits: 53 Euros … seeing kids playing on a stripey see-saw in a dumpster: priceless. While this kind of creative threading of the legal eye of the needle definitely belongs in the urban hacker’s textbook (which would, no doubt, quickly be hacked), other of Cirugeda’s projects such as throwing up some graffiti, then erecting his own scaffolding and donning a city worker’s uniform and painting over the graffiti, are elegant in their union of the practical, performative and the absurd.
The eventual end of this line of thought is that the notion of hacking as a separate, responsive act to design is unnecessarily dualistic. What if instead of this duality there were just people who made things and re-made them, over and over? The roles of hacker and designer are necessarily created out of a world where branding and authorship serve the ends of capitalism. The dominant definition of designer is one who creates value that can be sold, whereas hackers mostly work for free. Just think of John Lennon singing ‘Imagine there’s no designers and no hackers…” and it almost seems possible.
We’ve been thinking about modular urban furniture lately, and not just because Bushwaffle went, en mass, to the Treasure Island Music Festival this weekend. We ran across this: in Budapest, Hungary the PRCCCS festival held an event last week that asked: What kind of street furniture would you make with 140 30-liter plastic drums? This carries forward a theme we’ve been exploring since Experimenta 2008 in Amsterdam last year and our residency at Texas A&M University, and to which GRL contributed some brilliance a few years ago with their Postal Chairs. And here in San Francisco, design students have been experimenting with “catch and release” DPW Adirondack chairs.
We’re not sure what the Hungarian festival was all about–because all of the materials are in Hungarian–but it brings to mind the many lightweight, mass-produced objects in our detritus stream that could be pressed into service for grassroots customization of urban spaces.
Buffeted by rain and wind the last few weeks, we haven’t been able to get down to Pescadero, CA, to begin building full-size prototypes of the “habitat ridges” we are designing for Oikonos, a wildlife conservation organization working on Año Nuevo Island. Until last week. The sun broke through and we began testing “the hull” design. We are building it on the mainland, where we have access to tools (and the wildlife is absent). This design will span the isthmus on the island.
(Photos: Masha Slavnova)
Which is not too bad a scaling-up of the original model (base is the shape of the isthmus):
The ridge designs we’re testing are constructed from eucalyptus harvested from a conservation trust area near Pescadero. Eucalyptus is abundant, and invasive, in California, and if they prove usable for the ridge designs we will be solving two problems at once.
More on the habitat restoration project, and Año Nuevo, here.
Rebar was chosen for the Lower Potrero site of the city’s new Pavement to Parks plan, and will donate its time and labor to turn a redundant road near Wolfe’s and Axis Cafes into a new type of communal public space. A street no longer but also not a park, the strip of road on 8th street between 16th and Wisconsin will be transformed to cater to the neighborhood, offering plaza-style seating, greenery, windbreaks, bike parking and an air of playfulness.
Check out the article to read about the program and what Ed Reiskin, Director of the Department of Public Works thinks of the whole thing. We’ll be updating the blog with more on the process and development of this rapid-pace project, so stay tuned: street closure will happen in late August, with installation to be completed by Labor Day of this year!