San Francisco Street Art


San Francisco is famous for its street art. Very often, the city or private individuals will commission the art which gives street artist a chance to earn a real living from pursuing their passions.

We were hanging out in the Mission district and decided to check out some art. It was great timing because we managed to catch a graffiti artist in action as he was a painting a mural on a garage door.

Apparently a lot of private individuals will commission artwork in order to cover over the tagging that kids from the neighbourhood paint on their walls and garages.

This discussion raised a very interesting issue about the ownership of private and public. And the spaces more fluid.

For example, the alley way where I took these photos is technically public space. But the garage doors facing the street are private. So some street art is painted on the walls (public) and others are on garage doors (private). So where’s the line?

Another fascinating observation is how the murals are organized. There is actually a curator who plans the murals and decides what artwork goes well and how paints. Who knew street art had such a…ordered, surprisingly hierarchical structure….?

Plus the murals often have politically charged messages that are very profound especially based on the way they are illustrated via bright art. It’s a lot more compelling that political messages in written form.

And the last part of the murals that I like best is the aesthetics. These murals are really beautiful, wonderful pieces of art that artist really spend hours and hours on. And the unsettling, yet precious, part is they will probably disappear overnight or even after a few hours of completion as the next artists (or as “taggers” depending on whom you talk to) continue to wage the graffiti war.

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