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  • Abeyance (Draves y Robles y Vargas)

    2017 (on view through April 28, 2019)
    Vinyl Billboard at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
    30' x 30'

    Extended label & text credits:
    https://www.ybca.org/abeyance-public-art

    Featuring both text and altered photographic imagery from San Francisco’s Ocean Beach, Abeyance honors three Bay Area natives by sharing their stories of migration, displacement, and resilience. The billboard is located in the SOMA neighborhood, a site that during the 1980s and 1990s underwent dramatic redevelopment, still in process today.

    Reyes’s project acknowledges this contested history by mining the spoken and textual record. The billboard’s texts, which can be read as a single statement or in fragments, weave together the voices of three prominent Bay Area Filipino/a Americans: the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas (b. 1981), the celebrated poet and activist Al Robles (1930–2009), and the Olympic gold medal diver Victoria Manalo Draves (1924–2010). Abeyance places these authors in dialogue with Yerba Buena Gardens’ daily visitors through a textual and visual tapestry that alludes equally to care, despair, endurance, fear, and hope.

    One of Abeyance’s quotes is from a New York Times article written in 2011 by Jose Antonio Vargas, where he remembers the parting words of his mother, Emilie Salinas, uttered in Tagalog, as he left the Philippines at age twelve to begin a life in the United States—an undocumented immigrant in search of what his mother hoped would be a better life. Al Robles was an integral figure in the fight to save San Francisco’s International Hotel, demolished in 1981. Also known as the I Hotel, it was an epicenter of activist resistance to redevelopment and the displacement of its elderly immigrant tenants. Reyes honors Robles’s advocacy in remembrance of the fortieth anniversary of the International Hotel evictions on August 4, 1977. Lastly, a quote by Vicki Manalo Draves, who grew up in this South of Market district, recalls the famed athlete’s memories of the night before her historic double gold medal victory at the 1948 Summer Olympics, held in London. Draves was the first-ever Asian American Olympic champion, breaking both race and gender barriers for athletes to come.

    Photo credit night: Jeremy Villaluz
    Photo credit daytime: Charlie Villyard, courtesy Yerba Buena Center for the Arts