Author Topic: Female Buddha, standing 15 feet tall, takes perch in Hayes Valley  (Read 7565 times)


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Female Buddha, standing 15 feet tall, takes perch in Hayes Valley

Sam Whiting
June 7, 2019 Updated: June 11, 2019, 1:50 pm

When viewed from Hayes Street in the bright sunlight, the 15-foot female Buddha in the center of Patricia’s Green looks to be chiseled from a block of shimmering stainless steel.

But climb atop its wooden platform and touch her, and you’ll feel a motorcycle chain, the brass lock from a door, an assortment of wire cables, sprockets, wrenches, grates and drill bits.

Sculptor Dana Albany built “Tara Mechani” of recycled construction, household hardware and machine parts from toe to crown, and assembled it so that her skin is as smooth and shiny as an ice sculpture wrapped in jewels.

“She’s very sexy,” Albany says. “She’s a sexy Buddha.”

Albany, 53, works in mixed metals and spent a year collecting her materials from Recology. She then went on to scavenge flea markets, garage sales and the San Francisco Builders Resource. She turned the metal into anatomy at the Box Shop, an artists’ collective in the Bayview.

For inspiration for “Tara Mechani,” she drew equally from the ancient female Buddha Tara and the robot Maria in the 1920s silent film “Metropolis.” Her studio model was Lily Marchesche, a San Francisco actress/model and the daughter of public artist Cork Marchesche.

“Tara traditionally wouldn’t be in this pose,” says Albany, during a break from applying stain to the octagonal platform. “She’s in a very Italian contrapposto pose. It’s very Western civilization and gives her the S-curve along the back of her body.”

Patricia’s Green is the public park in Hayes Valley and the artworks are temporary, under curation of the San Francisco Arts Commission. “Tara Mechani” will be up for one year and replaces “Squared,” the 50-foot sculpture of cubes by Charles Gadeken that glowed white and pink in the dark, like marshmallows roasting on a stick.

“Tara Mechani” has her own more subtle lighting feature. Nightly starting at 7 p.m., she glows from an inner chandelier made of lamp parts embedded in her chest and rib cage. Day or night she stands proud atop a plank platform and metal plinth, showing her backside to all the motorists driving down off the Central Freeway and up Octavia Boulevard.

“Dana Albany’s piece is a conversation starter, which makes it a perfect first for Patricia’s Green, a vibrant oasis where people from all backgrounds visit to enjoy beauty and community,” said Phil Ginsburg, general manager of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department.

“Tara Mechani” made her debut quietly last week, but there will be a larger celebration at 5 p.m. June 22. There will be opera singers and dancers, and its model Marchesche has promised to appear.

“At a lot of parks and town halls and squares, you see bronze statues of generals on horses,” Albany says. “Tara is all about peace and compassion. I like to bring that energy out into the world in public spaces.”

“Tara Mechani”: Public sculpture dedication 5 p.m. June 22. Patricia’s Green, Fell and Octavia streets.


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Re: Female Buddha, standing 15 feet tall, takes perch in Hayes Valley
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2019, 08:00:01 AM »
Wow, what a nice and modern depiction of Tara. The more important thing about the Buddha image is the iconography, the appearance is secondary. A Buddha image can be made into a piece of art, this can also be a way to introduce Buddhism to people or to plant a Dharma seed in their mind stream. In our modern world, fewer people are spiritual, they will not go to a religious place. By bringing religion items to where they frequent most, give people the opportunity to learn about Dharma.