Where's YOUR Sweet Spot

Collaborative project with the San Francisco Bureau of Urban Secrets for the Topographies show
Walter and McBean's Gallery, San Francisco, 2004.
[N.B.This page is an archive. The map and project website has expired since.]

Physical places become meaningful through the human interactions that take place there and the importance we attach to them. Any single location, from a faceless concrete curb to a park bench to a Victorian mansion, can hold countless layers of stories�from the mundane to the magical. The Sweet Spot study will survey the cityscape to mark the notable and not-so notable experiences of people who live here and people just passing through.

The deployment of white survey flags throughout the city, a mapped walking tour of flag locations, participants' stories and photo documentation on our website www.whiteflags.org, will let places speak these secret histories and sweeten the public realm with serendipitous signs of private surrender.

The Process:

Members of the public (�participants�) will be encouraged to take small blank white flags and place them at a spot in the city that has significance in their lives. Suggested categories for placement of Sweet Spot markers include:

1. A dramatic/magical moment spot (�On March 17, 2002 I broke up with my girlfriend right here.�)
2. A mundane but habitual haunt (�This is where I always stop to smoke a cigarette or drink a cup of coffee.�)
3. A place of mystery (some secret histories should remain just that)
4. ???

Sweet Spot participants will be requested to notify the staff of the Department of Vernacular Drawing (DVD) as to where and optionally why they have placed their flag(s), either via email (incoming@whiteflags.org), postcard, or on a sheet at the DVD office. Participants will also be encouraged to make written annotations on the flag itself with permanent pen (Sharpie marker works well). A suggested form of flag annotation might be that of a traditional historical marker (e.g. �I drink my coffee at this bus stop every day on the way to work.�)

Participation in the Sweet Spot project started on March 19, 2004 and is picking up its pace. Please visit the clickable map on our website to read the anecdotes and see the photographs of our participants. The web site is at www.whiteflags.org.

Send us your notes/pictures

About the B.U.S.

The San Francisco Bureau of Urban Secrets is a visual arts and urbanism think tank dedicated to developing and promoting art about the city of San Francisco, its public and private histories, and the layers of lived experience embedded within the built environment. The Department of Vernacular Drawing is a loose affiliation of visual artists, architects and urban planners convened by the Bureau to explore a shared passion for urban place-making. The DVD is committed to the practice of drawing in its broadest possibilities, without losing sight of the fundamental encounter of figure and ground.

Three members of the DVD are leading the Sweet Spots Project. Larry Shao and Michael Zheng are both current MFA students of the San Francisco Art Institute. Joshua Switzky is an Urban Planner of the Planning Department of the City of San Francisco.

For more information, contact Jeannene Przyblyski, Executive Director, sf_bus@pacbell.net