New SF Chinatown lanterns are nod to neighborhood's history with artistic twist

Tara Campbell Image
Thursday, February 1, 2024
New SF Chinatown lanterns are modern nod to neighborhood's history
With Lunar New Year just around the corner, San Francisco's Chinatown is lighting up with some new lanterns.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- With Lunar New Year just around the corner, San Francisco's Chinatown is lighting up with some new lanterns.

But these aren't just any lanterns. They're a nod to the neighborhood's history with an artistic twist.

"Ready, one, two, three look up," officials said.

And just like that, San Francisco's Chinatown lit up in a way never seen before.

"Tonight we are unveiling a new lantern here on Grant Avenue," said Joanne Lee, executive director of Edge on the Square.

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Edge on the Square is a contemporary art hub in the heart of Chinatown.

"You've probably seen the iconic red Lanterns that have been up and down Grant Avenue and other streets in Chinatown. We commissioned a very special, contemporary lantern to integrate with the existing red lanterns," Lee said.

They commissioned Bay Area artist Bre Gipson to take on the project.

"I really was asked to merge contemporary art and still give homage to the traditional culture and kind of create a bridge between the two," Gibson said.

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The Oakland native took great care in creating the new-look lanterns.

"I really wanted to take special care and make sure that I gave a nod to the work and really research, and it was really fascinating researching this community. I've been in so many times and spend so much time, so I think that naturally trickled through the work," Gibson said.

"A lot of programming here at Edge on the Square is multi-generational, so it's thinking about honoring the heritage and past and connecting it with the future," said Candace Huey, head curator for the organization.

"They are really at the cutting edge of Avant Garde art," said San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin.

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Peskin joined the night's celebration, encouraging people to come check it out, especially ahead of Lunar New Year.

"They're welcoming people from far beyond Chinatown. This is meant for the people of San Francisco, Asian and non-Asian and all around the Bay Area," Peskin said.

"One of our goals is to increase foot traffic and visitors to Chinatown to, you know, not only check out the arts and culture scene here, but also to shop in the stores and eat in the restaurants," Lee said.

"It's so wild to see it manifest into like, our 3D reality. And now it's up and people get to experience it. And, you know, the creative process, you're like, how's it going to turn out? It's a surprise to me too," Gibson said.

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