Have You Gone Whale Watching on SF’s JFK Promenade Yet?

No, you didn’t tread that headline incorrectly.

As much as we’re leaning into our Karl The Fog fandom, we’re just as much resting our adoration on car-free JFK Drive, a.k.a. the “JFK Promenade.”

It’s everything good and grand and pure about roadways that have been given back to the people. Live music reverberates off the pavement; two pianos are now installed on the promenade for passersby to use. Large-scale murals have given new life to otherwise drab concrete; larger-than-life wiener dog monoliths are sprinkled across the roadway, complementing the like-size letter boxes that sit outside the Conservatory of Flowers.

Over the weekend, what’s presently the most stunning artistic fixture on the JFK Promendae debuted: A whale.

As part of Illuminate’s The Golden Mile Project, which has transformed the 1.7-mile roadway into a malleable canvas for local artists to create on since it debuted earlier this month, the massive humpback whale sculpture erupted out of the pavement Saturday afternoon.

Created by artist multi-hyphenated artist Reuben Rude — whose work spans the gamut of sketchbook and poster art to murals — he began the installation of his mural “Street Whale” a few days ago. It’s a life-sized humpback whale sculpture and mural that features two pieces — a “hump” and flipped tail — that were constructed out of reclaimed wood. 

The two parts are painted with soft tones of blues, browns, yellows, reds, and oranges; a few of the planks also feature intricate patterns.

Like any good artist on social media these days, Rue began teasing the project back in late September when he uploaded a cryptic Instagram post, which showed a zoomed-in still of the sculpture captioned with “making a thing!

Fast forward three weeks later, and we now know that that thing was: A sprawling, jaw-dropping piece of public art… that might just be our favorite addition to The Golden Mile project yet.

(Yes, you’re seeing that right, too: Rude managed to recreate protruding eyes on the whale sculpture using reclaimed materials.)

Much like humpback whales themselves, JFK Drive is under threat by greedy, selfish, maligned humans who want to strip Mother Nature of all her splendors. Vote “Yes” on Prop J for this upcoming November election to keep this public space alive.

Feature Image: Courtesy of Twitter via @usa4

Leave a Reply