A New Deal - 2015

Continuing the Legacy of Maritime Art in the Park

The San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park’s Maritime Museum has been a site of creative endeavor and community engagement for the past 76 years. A group of artists designed and finished the interior and elements of the original bathhouse building facade as part of a joint project between the City of San Francisco and the New Deal Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1939. Participating artists in the design and production of the Streamline Moderne building included Hilaire Hiler, Sargent Johnson, Richard Ayer, and Beniamino Bufano, to name just a few.


The WPA artists at this site sought to engage the world through a mix of abstraction, fantasy, psychoanalysis and theories based on the human condition.  The eight contemporary artists exhibiting here today build upon these theories but use re-enactment, critical research, performance, video and appropriation as tools to comment on current social and environmental conditions and recent historic events.  The outcome of these efforts by both generations of artists begins to shape a collective vision of progress toward a better future.


A New Deal

curated by Visual Arts Director Patrick Gillespie

March 7 – June 17, 2015
Maritime Museum
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park


The Artists

Alicia Escott
Brandon Walls Olsen
Justin Hurty
Matt Gordon
Monica Lundy
Raphael Noz
Torreya Cummings
Wafaa Yasin

The Partnership

As part of We Players’ unprecedented five-year cooperative agreement with San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, we are collaborating with a wide range of artists, creating work from diverse vantage points in a variety of media as an exercise in exploring the many layers of story within the site.

The extended venue of San Francisco Maritime NHP, including the Maritime Museum building, Hyde Street Pier, the historic vessels, Victorian Park, and Aquatic Park and lagoon, serves as a laboratory for We Players experiments in site-integrated programming, 2012-2017. Projects include the generation of new theatre works inspired by classical literature and Greek mythology, music concerts, dance, staged readings, visual art exhibits, conversations, parties, and workshops. In addition, San Francisco Maritime NHP will serve as a “floating classroom” for our growing aesthetic education programming, which serves youth from diverse backgrounds in neighborhoods throughout the Bay Area.

The Discussion

The Presidio Dialogues program hosted a free discussion event with We Players, contributing artists, and other key collaborators to discuss the exhibition and project themes on May 28, 2015 at the Presidio Officer’s Club to further explore the histories and personal inspiration for the current exhibit at the Maritime Museum. 

The Buzz

Matthew Harrison Tedford, Contemporary Takes on Maritime History at Aquatic Park Exhibition, KQED Arts, May 11, 2015