Envisioned by SFGMC Artistic Director Dr. Timothy Seelig, the Artists Portal is reflective of the SFGMC mission to lead by creating extraordinary music and experiences that build community, inspire activism, and foster compassion at home and around the world. Seelig reached out to SFGMC choral member and DAHLIN Principal and Senior Architect Donald J. Ruthroff to design the memorial.
In the summer of 2017, the SFGMC selected a site within the AIDS Memorial Grove overlooking the California Academy of Sciences with nearly $100K raised to build the monument. The overall design is contemplative and moving at the same time, giving visitors the opportunity to enjoy the surroundings at either the beginning or end of their journey through the AIDS Memorial Grove. The design takes the pre-established vocabulary of all of the portals, utilizing it to create the Artists Portal. The unique element of the Artists Portal is the addition of an auditory element in the chime, a recognition from the SFGMC to the members they have lost, and yet, who will always be a part of the SFGMC and their legacy. Individual names are inscribed in concentric circles at the center of the monument and organization names are inscribed along the arc of the bench.
The Artists Portal further fulfills the vision for the AIDS Memorial Grove, the first national AIDS memorial, which began in the late 1980s when a small group of San Francisco residents, processing the grief brought by the effects of AIDS, imagined a calming natural scene where memorial services and private reflection could take place.