Bay Area Artists Selected to Transform San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens with “Celebration Gateways”

Expansive Murals Will Enliven Barren Walls at 4th Street Adjacent to the New Yerba Buena/Moscone Transit Station

The Project is a Partnership Between Yerba Buena Gardens Conservancy and SFMTA, Funded by a Caltrans Clean California Grant

January 11, 2023 — Two expansive sections of barren walls at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens will be transformed with murals into “celebration gateways” by notable Bay Area artists Dee Jae Pa’este and Mel Vera Cruz, it was announced today by Yerba Buena Gardens Conservancy.

The project is a partnership between Yerba Buena Gardens Conservancy and SFMTA, funded by a Caltrans Clean California grant. One mural will replace blank concrete along a large staircase on 4th and Howard streets from the sidewalk level to the entrance of the Gardens. Another mural will live on the exterior wall of the Children’s Creativity Museum and South of Market Child Care facing the 4th Street corridor and the new SFMTA Yerba Buena/Moscone station.

“Each location presents an enormous canvas to welcome residents and visitors to the Gardens and the Yerba Buena neighborhood,” said Yerba Buena Gardens Conservancy External Affairs Director Jill Linwood. “The artists’ creativity will add to the collection of renowned public art in the neighborhood.”

Design work for each space, both of which are 450+ square feet, is just starting. The Conservancy said it expects the murals to be completed in early summer. The artists were selected by a panel of community and arts leaders.

Dee Jae Pa’este was born to an Irish-Chamorro mother and a Filipino father, and his family and culture is rooted in his art and lifestyle. His work is known for its strong, graphic sensibility, and consists of powerful, primary colors and bold, thick lines reminiscent of microchip circuitry and Polynesian/Filipino tribal tattoos and woven textiles. Pa’este is currently featured as a mural artist for the Department of Tourism of the Philippines, promoting tourism and local art. His work has appeared in galleries in New York, Los Angeles, Stockholm, Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong, San Francisco, Hawaii, and Japan.

Dee Jae Pa’este’s Irish-Chamorro and Filipino heritage is rooted in his art and lifestyle. Credit: Terence Ver S. Angsioco

“We have this unspoken responsibility with our art to uplift those around us, and I believe that public art can do that for individuals or even a whole city,” said Pa’este. “Through forms of a sort of urban acupuncture, we can strive to cover the walls with nature, beauty, culture, and things that will bring light and inspiration into people’s surroundings. This project presents that opportunity and I am excited to connect with the Yerba Buena neighborhood through creating a mural for it. ”

The work of Filipino-born East Bay resident Mel Vera Cruz is already integrated into SoMa and celebrates the neighborhood’s Filipino heritage. In 2021, his two-block-long pavement mural design featuring Filipino baníg mats and hablon, which are hand-woven fabric in colorful plaids, was selected to be part of the Minna Natoma Art Corridor connecting the Transbay Transit Center to Yerba Buena Gardens. At Balay Kreative Studios on Mission street, windows are adorned with his graphics of Filipino heroes/Sheroes. Another mural on the facade of the Bayanihan Community Center at Mission and 6th streets, which Vera Cruz co-produced with England Hidalgo, celebrates Filipino American heroes and community leaders.

Mel Vera Cruz’s work focuses on Filipino history and heritage. This temporary mural was done for KULARTS using spray chalk as part of (insert event/festival). Credit: Erina Alejo

“Being a Bay Area community artist for more than 20 years has given me a lot of experience not only about Filipino culture, but about the plight of Filipino Americans,” said Vera Cruz, who settled in the U.S. in 1995 from the Philippines. “I have dedicated my time and abilities to serve my people because this is where I feel holistically fulfilled. Back in 1995 I envisioned painting this city someday, but never in my dreams it would happen this way.” Each artist receives a $10,000 honorarium for their work. Designs will be approved by the panel of community and arts leaders. The artists are convening with neighborhood partners such as the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA), Children’s Creativity Museum, SOMA Pilipinas, and Tenants and Owners Development Corporation (TODCO) to engage with the community about project themes and desired results.

The murals will add to a substantial collection of public art at Yerba Buena Gardens and throughout the Yerba Buena neighborhood, such as Shaking Man by Terry Allen, Double Horizon by Sarah Sze, Deep Gradient/Suspect Terrain by John Roloff, and Love Over Rules by Hank Willis Thomas, and more.
Yerba Buena Gardens is the vibrant center of SoMa, which serves Bay Area residents, tourists, and Moscone convention center attendees. The Gardens is considered the cultural heart of the city, with anchors including SFMOMA, YBCA, Contemporary Jewish Museum, MOAD, Children’s Creativity Museum, SOMA Pilipinas, as well as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and Fountain, retail, and expansive open space with public art, ice rink and bowling center, historic carousel, and a playground.


About Yerba Buena Gardens Conservancy

Yerba Buena Gardens Conservancy is a civic nonprofit organization established in 2019 to program, operate, maintain, and improve Yerba Buena Gardens on behalf of the City and County of San Francisco. The Conservancy provides arts, culture, recreation, and nature in beautiful, accessible, welcoming spaces for everyone through stewardship and collaboration. Learn more at

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