Richmond's history and community connections inspire Nevin Plaza art installations

Richmond's history and community connections inspire Nevin Plaza art installations
EAH Housing is renovating the seven-story Nevin Plaza building at 2400 Nevin Ave. Photo/ Linda Hemmila

If everything goes as planned, a new affordable housing building for seniors at Nevin Plaza could be completed within three years, along with several public art projects.

Last year, EAH Housing began constructing the first phase of the Nevin Plaza project to completely renovate the seven-story building near the Civic Center at 2400 Nevin Ave. Now, EAH is ready to kick off the next phase of the project: a new 80-unit building.

EAH has its first meeting with city officials this week to discuss their expectations regarding the planning and design of the new building, said Brian Swartz from EAH Housing.

“After some time, I’m glad to say that the second phase of the project is pretty darn close to the starting line,” Swartz said.

Swartz expects the entitlement process to take a year and two more years to complete the construction.

“If everything goes really well, we will have a second Nevin Plaza building in about three years. If I were budgeting--because I know how schedules go--I would say it could very well be closer to three and half years,” Swartz said.

To adhere to the City of Richmond’s public art ordinance, which requires developers to allocate one percent of their budget towards public art, EAH has partnered with SLATE Art Consulting to oversee the process.

“I have been in contact with the art consultant who pulled it all together,” Swartz said. “I know she is working closely with the architect and general contractor to time when that goes up.”

Slate Co-Principal Danielle Fox, who manages the company’s public art program, said a decision was made early in the process to distribute the public art budget and opportunities among multiple artists to commission artists that reflect the community in Richmond and at Nevin Plaza.

“Community outreach for the project included meetings with local resident groups and circulation of questionnaires in 2021 and 2022 and formation of a selection committee that included stakeholders from the community,” Fox said.

Slate commissioned fabric artist Alice Beasley to create a fabric montage in her signature style to hang at the entry to the Richmond Housing Office.

Her study was created by combining photographs of important people and locations in Richmond, including the Winters Building, Hotel Mac, and the Plunge, where Beasley had swimming lessons as a child.

“Alice is an artist of international repute, with a long list of museum exhibitions on her resume, including the Smithsonian museums in Washington DC, the De Young Museum in San Francisco, and the Art in Embassies program overseas,” Fox said.

Slate also commissioned artist Alexandra Bowman to design a series of illustrations printed in enamel and installed at the top of the ground-floor level of the building’s exterior.

“Her subjects will focus on Richmond’s history, landscape and community connections, including the farming and harvesting of fresh food, which was inspired by her time volunteering for Richmond’s non-profit Urban Tilth,” Fox said. “Alexandra is well known in the East Bay community for her work as an artist, illustrator, and muralist.”

Oakland-based Modern Metal will install a series of powder-coated cut-metal screens at street level.

Artwork by Shana Harper, Serena Scott, Felicia Griffin, Jesus Salas, and Christina Vassell, who have worked at NIAD Art Center over the years, selected for potential interpretation into cut metal panels.

“Instead of offering their own designs, they will be using prints and drawings made by artists working at NIAD Art Center in Richmond as the basis for the patterns and compositions,” Fox said.

Renovations at the existing building are moving quickly, with residents returning to 36 fully renovated units.

“Generally speaking, things are moving forward nicely,” Swartz said. “From everything we’ve heard, tenants of the building generally understand the processes. Albeit a construction process is never a fun thing to sit through.”

Help keep our content free for all!

Click to become a Grandview Supporter here. Grandview is an independent, journalist-run publication exclusively covering Richmond, CA. Copyright © 2024 Grandview Independent, all rights reserved.

Read more