Cultural Corridor/Urban Flow

Cultural Corridor/Urban Flow 2020

ACT Bus Rapid Transit, Oakland to San Leandro

Cultural Corridor/Urban Flow is a 9 mile, 1.5 million public art work created with Lead Artist Johanna Poethig, Mildred Howard, Peter Richards, Joyce Hsu  which employs a ribbon of words and neighborhood iconography to enhance the new AC Transit Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Line that connects downtown Oakland, International Boulevard, to San Leandro.  Workshops with Oakland’s “Youth Uprising”, San Leandro residents and the broader community, informed, inspired and guided the artists design process.  Local poet and writer Elmaz Abinader contributed to the text as it was developed resulting in a 9mile long poem.   Light responsive honeycomb-hex panels, designed for the Enhanced Stations, punctuates the lively visual environment as they respond to people and vehicles moving by.  Each Station is a landmark riffing on the unique cultural and social environment of the surrounding neighborhood. Cultural Corridor/Urban Flow considers transportation in the context of all the human constructed systems which enable us to live and prosper on this planet.  Moving people and goods freely from one place to another, along with education, communication, commerce, clean water, energy, waste management are just a few of the ways we have devised to provide for fulfilling lives.  A sign of a healthy society is when all of these systems flow together in harmony.  This is an unfolding work of art that offers a continuous experience of discovery along the TEMPO BRT route.

Cultural Corridor/Urban Flow
The East Bay Rapid Transit Project will provide a corridor for thousands of people to move along, International Boulevard, one of the longer continuous streets in the Bay Area.  Cultural Corridor/Urban Flow will establish points of connection for the public as they move through these historically evolving neighborhoods along the way.   An unfolding history of the past and near present will be informed by the cultural identity of the people who have lived and do live there now.  Urban Flow is a way of thinking that captures currents of history overlapping with the systems of the built environment and the systems of nature – all of which can be described as methods or processes that move things from one point or state to another.  Taken together, these are the conditions that give a place its character.  It is the intention of this design team to tease out what defines the segments of the International Street Cultural Corridor and to reflect this in a cohesive unfolding and evolving design for this new transit system.

To capture this complex overlay of natural and urban flow, we propose a system that will create a visual signature for each station through variously scaled translucent and transparent honeycombed windscreen and hand-rail panels.  The movement of people and traffic, as seen through these panels, will create a cinematic live action play of light and shadow.  The structural aluminum honeycomb wind screens will contain a visual vocabulary articulating signifying characteristics of the passing neighborhoods focusing on the lively commercial, cultural and natural elements of the streetscape.  The passing of clouds, the angle of the sun, streetlights, car lights, illuminated business signs, sparkling banners, colorful child backpacks, will all enhance and celebrate the flow this new public transport system.

Economics, communications, computer networks, education, transportation, power, drinking water, waste disposal all have been developed to allow a great number of people to live closely together in comfort in spite of, or in concert with, the systems of nature,( ie, the cycles of weather, the tides, the seasons),  When all the systems, cultural, historic, economic, natural and built, experience synchronicity – are in concert with each other – the experience of the individual and society as a whole flow together with greater ease and efficiency.


Flow – to circulate without resistance.  Physics: the transference of energy.

—- The American Century Dictionary



Johanna Poethig is a contemporary artist known for her monumentally scaled murals and architecturally integrated public art, socially engaged collaborations, painting, multi media installations and performance. She grew up in the Philippines and has been active in Filipino-American arts community since the 1980’s. She recently completed a 65’ long mosaic for Rainbow Recreation Center in Oakland and the signature mural “Skylight” for the new College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences building at CSU, Monterey Bay.  She has been commissioned to create public art projects throughout the Bay Area and California, and in Chicago, Milwaukee, Cuba, Washington State, New York and Tbilisi, Georgia.  She has exhibited internationally, and at the Los Angeles County Museum of ArtBronx Museum of the Arts, Boston Center for the Arts and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.  She has been recognized with awards from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and California Arts Council, among others. Poethig received her MFA at Mills College and is Professor Emeritus of Painting and Public Art at the Visual and Public Art department at California State University, Monterey Bay.

Mildred Howard Berkeley based artist has received numerous awards for her critically acclaimed mixed-media and installation work, including an NEA Grant in Sculpture, two Rockefeller Artist’s Fellowships and the Joan Mitchell Fellowship. Her work is included in major collections, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the de Young Museum, New Museum, New York and has been widely exhibited internationally at venues in Cairo, Berlin, Paris, London, Morocco and Venice. Howard has created of public installation works in San Francisco in collaboration with poets and writers, including Three Shades of Blue, in which lines by Quincy Troupe were etched into blue glass panels on Fillmore Street, and The Music of Language, where Howard worked with San Francisco Poet Laureate Janice Mirikatani to render lines from her poetry on the building’s exterior. Howard’s Moving Richmond, a work in which a poem by Macarthur Fellow Ishmael Reed was incised into a forty-foot wall of faceted steel, can be seen at Richmond’s BART Station. Parenthetically Speaking, a series of punctuation marks rendered in opaque black and red glass and inspired by a poem by Quincy Troupe, was nominated for the 2013 Arte Laguna Prize in Sculpture,exhibited at the Arsenal Venezia in Venice.

Peter Richards co-founded the Exploratorium’s Artist – in –Residence Program with Director Frank Oppenheimer in 1974.  He was Director of Arts Programs there until 1998 when he moved to Charlotte, NC to serve as Artistic Director of the McColl Center for Art + Innovation.  He returned to the Exploratorium in 2001 as Senior Artist and became Senior Artist Emeritus in 2010.   He has a parallel career as a public artist with installations located in both the US and Europe.  His most recognized work is the Wave Organ, sponsored by the Exploratorium and located in the Marina District of San Francisco.   He is a Research Fellow at the Mediterranean Center for Advanced Research in Marseille, and the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at College of Fine Arts, Carnegie Mellon University.

Joyce Hsu is an interdisciplinary artist and designer with background in both art and architecture. She received her Master of Fine Arts at the San Francisco Art Institute and her Master of Architecture at California College of the Arts. Her work has been exhibited internationally. Joyce creates site-specific public art. To date, she has received several public art commissions, including a major work at the San Francisco International Airport, City of Seattle, Cupertino, Kaiser Permanente Oakland, Sacramento Light Rail system and Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course.