Urban Wilds: The Art of the Franciscan Ecology

historic dunes

Between the pavement, the wild grows.

Without artists to inspire us to look beyond the buildings, all we might see is cement. Sixty-eight percent of San Francisco is covered in pavement. Between the hard surfaces, you’ll find wildflower-dappled remnants that escaped the bulldozers. These are the hidden treasures of the Franciscan Region. It’s the smallest floristic region in the California Floristic Province. North of Montara Mountain the Franciscan zone begins. It ends just south of Muir Woods in Marin County. 


Local botanist James Roof (1911 - 1983) said, “Now the heart of the Franciscan country was right in the center of town, where you had the old 49'er cemeteries, where all the rare manzanitas were represented. Also Mount Davidson, where the Franciscan manzanita's been exterminated; also the Presidio of San Francisco, where some small remnants of Franciscan land remain. And the sand dunes out here on the Avenues-this is Franciscan country. Mount Davidson was just about the heart of it, and the whole Franciscan flora was found on the small mountain range in the middle of San Francisco. If the city of San Francisco had preserved Mount Davidson-to Sunset Heights-to Twin Peaks- to Diamond Heights just in its natural form, they would have had the heart of the Franciscan country-with some small spurs out at the Presidio and down at Hunter's Point, and so on. Now: the whole Franciscan type country has been destroyed, with the exception of San Bruno Mountain.”


Well, it hasn’t all been completely destroyed yet. And the artists in our exhibition are here to prove that they’re not going to let the wild side of our urban jungle get tucked away in someone’s dusty history book. They’re here to celebrate. And we’re here to join the party. 


Click on a piece to see more by the artist and learn about their work.

by Margo Bors
by Bianca Ana Chavez
by Sandy Steinman
by Thomas Wang
by Mary Betlach
by Mona Caron
by Denise Louie
by Toni Gregorio-Bunch
by Sal Steiner
by Elliot Goliger
by Bob Hall
by Robert Del Tredici
by Carol Damm
by Ian Boyle
by Ink Dwell Studio, Jane Kim
by MJ Broadbent
by Amber R. Turner
by Ethan Rayner
by Siri Huntoon
by David Schooley
by Jessica Dickinson Goodman
by Ethan J. Andrews