In 1963 the last prisoner to get off of Alcatraz was asked how he felt about leaving. He replied, "Good... Alcatraz was never no good for nobody." And who would disagree? The prison is great for sea birds and tourists, but locals rarely go there. Until now.
Thanks to a Chinese political dissident, a plucky international art curator, and a $3 million installation, Alcatraz has just become a place you'll actually want to visit. That's right, Alcatraz is suddenly...awesome!
The occasion is "@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz," a blockbuster installation by China's internationally acclaimed artist, Ai Weiwei. It was the idea of Cheryl Haines, executive director of For-Site, whose role in the project helped land her a spot on this year's Hot 20.
Leading art supporters and media figures recently ferried across the bay to the prison island for "Party on the Rock," the opening night celebration of @Large. The artist himself could not attend as he's restricted from leaving China.
Techung, ODC/Dance Company, and Chairlift performed for guests.
Chaired by Randi Fisher, Amy Rao, Norah Stone, Darian Swig and Susan Swig, with honorary chairs Roger Evans and Aey Phanachet, guests included philanthropist Wendy Schmidt, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, SFMOMA director Neal Benezra, Yves Behar and Sabrina Buell, Darren Bechtel and Samantha Duvall, Trevor and Alexis Traina, Dave and Gina Pell, Mark and Susie Buell, Matt and Katie Paige, Seth and Courtney Dallaire, James and Zem Joaquin, Dick and Pam Kramlich, Tyler and Stephanie Mitchell, Bob Fisher, Norman Stone, Mimi Haas, Allison Speer, Rob Forbes, Shannon Bavaro, Nicole Curran, Dorka Keehn, Douglas Durkin, and Stanlee Gatti, among others.
The dress code was "sensible chic," which for this group meant Chanel leather pants, Prada sneakers, and jackets trimmed with fur. Prison has never been so well dressed, and Alcatraz is finally proving its last convict wrong.
@Large is on view through April 26, 2015. Visit for-site.org for more information.
Photos by Drew Altizer