Gilded Cities is a collaboration between Erik Schmitt and Nick Bushman. The project is an outgrowth of work Schmitt did as a fellow at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in 2018, where he explored displacement within the city of San Francisco.

Spurred by this work, he developed Gilded Cities to explore the idea that the San Francisco Bay Area has become an enclave for the rich—unattainable to all but the most privileged. He has covered nine utilitarian objects throughout the Bay Area (such as sewer plates, water pipes, and manhole covers—things associated with the basic necessities of life) in 23 karat gold leaf. They stand out in striking contrast to their surroundings, ranging from gritty urban alleys to sun-dappled suburban walking paths.

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Erik Schmitt/Nick Bushman