NEMA is a 754-unit high-end residential apartment complex in the Mid-Market neighborhood of San Francisco, California. The complex consists of a 19-story, 220-foot (67 m) tower at Jessie and Tenth Streets know as the South Tower, and a 35-story, 352-foot (107 m) tower at Market and Tenth Streets known as the North Tower, connected by a nine story podium along Tenth Street. In 2013, the building was given the name "NEMA”, short for New Market.
The first residents moved in to the South Tower on October 1, 2013, while the North Tower was completed March 2014. Maria Di Grande Art Consulting was hired by Crescent Heights LLP in early 2013 to curate and consult on all aspects of the art selection for the South and North towers of the building, as well as oversee the commissioned piece by the artist Graham Gillmore. Ms. Di Grande’s vision in establishing NEMA’s art collection was inspired by the architecture and interior.
Ms. DiGrande discusses curating NeMa's art program below:
My approach to the art curation of NEMA's permanent collection was inspired by the tension between the dark exterior color palette of the building, it's glistening deep blue skin and edgy architecture, balanced by its warm interior hues and materials. I proposed a contemporary art program dedicated to a celebration of the Northern California lifestyle, using original paintings and photography that captures the unique California light and places a focus on Bay Area artists.
I was immediately drawn to local artists such as Amy Kaufman, Jon McNeal and Brent Townsend whose works felt engaging and exciting, as well as an interest in the work of Graham Gillmore. GIllmore's pivotal mural titled "Made in San Francisco" anchors the south tower lobby, while Amy Kaufman's black and white charcoal drawings swirl through the north tower lobby, emphasizing the movement and energy of its residents. The Gillmore installation pays homage to the many renowned iconic films and novels in or about San Francisco. His masterful skill in creating poetic graffiti and word art provides an active and playful background to the interior landscape.
The ideology behind my approach to curating contemporary art collections for both large and small scale projects begins with the gathering of information and characteristics that are inherent in the design and vision of each project. Finding a common thread which tells a story is as important as is the style and placement of each piece of art. I am especially energized by my clients interests and vision when developing new architectural projects.
In 2014, Ms. DiGrande proposed a partnership between Modernbook Gallery in San Francisco and NEMA to create a rotating gallery space in the buildings connecting corridor. "Artway by Modernbook" is the result of her proposal. This gallery is an added amenity for the residents of NEMA.