SiteWorks: San Francisco performance 1969-85

Elevated freeway US101 over Market Street at Market and Van Ness, now demolished

Bonnie Sherk and Howard Levine, Portable Park I (25th June 1970)



Portable Park I was situated on the dead end section of the freeway that was used primarily by the Highway Patrol for dispensing tickets. For one day the area was covered in live turf, live palm trees, a cow and myself. It was a living tableau which was visible to motorists as they drove by. I thought of it as an oasis in the desert. It was also visible from the street and I think quite humorous with the palm trees sticking over the edge of the concrete.

At that time I was interested in creating non-permanent events, because I didn’t believe that anything was permanent. I still don’t, but I realize that certain things can endure. (Burnham and Sherk  1981: 49-50)

I remember vividly having to get an “encroachment permit” from Caltrans for the freeway where it crossed Market Street for Portable Park 1 on for the concrete islands adjacent to the Mission/Van Ness offramp for Portable Park II. I went with the prominent architect Piero Patri to visit the director of Caltrans. His name was Mr. Hart. On his desk was a small, framed drawing of the Golden Gate Bridge tunnel on the Marin side with a painted rainbow. At the time he was contemplating whether or not to pursue that imagery for the tunnel, and he asked my opinion as to whether or not he should go forward with that painting. Of course I said yes, and when I saw that he was even considering that makeover, I knew that he would agree to give me the necessary permit for Portable Parks. Mr. Hart had vision, a sense of humor, and a big heart. It was an amazing time! Very different today. 
(Cavagnaro and Sherk 2012)


Additional Resources