The City of San Francisco is obviously visually interesting. We've got incredible architecture, as apparent in iconic TransAmerica Pyramid, the San Francisco Ferry building, or the red arches of the Golden Gate Bridge. We're often so busy taking in landmarks that we hardly notice another aspect of the the city...The graffiti that penetrates every district and neighborhood.
It would be impossible to catalogue and document every bit of street art that exists in the city; There’s simply far too much of it, but that’s not the only issue. Some of this “art” is highly disposable, or otherwise indefinite. As quickly as pieces go up, they come down or are covered by new works. This is simply a collection of things seen while wandering the streets. Even on your daily commute, one must obey Prophecy #6: Look Twice. There’s art all around you, and it’s only waiting for you to discover it.
It goes without saying that more prominent and well known graffiti artists make their way to our city as well. Keep a sharp eye and you might see the works of Banksy, Roa and Space Invader on buildings and walls throughout the city. We have our own local sensations as well, like artists Jeremy Novy whose koi stencils are a familiar phenomenon.
A fair amount of the graffiti in San Francisco is the result of the progressive minds that populate the Bay Area. San Francisco residents are known for green living, environmentalism and liberal thinking. Although the Occupy movement has been significantly reduced here, the evidence of its existence is still visible on curbs and corners, especially in the Financial District. Parades and protests also produce street paintings that last days…Or, at least, til the street cleaners wash the image away. The image of the Guy Fawkes mask is especially noteworthy. From the months of November to February this stencil remained, but changed. People tagged, tore and altered the original white mask every day until, sadly, the city painted right over it. It was, at least while it lasted, a very interesting discussion of beliefs.
Just a short BART or bus trip over the water is Oakland. Although the city has a reputation for being rough around the edges, Oakland was ranked in 2012 by the NY Times as a global must-visit destination… It placed number 5! Oakland’s downtown is thriving with the introduction of new restaurants, venues, nightlife and hip business. Artists also thrive in Oakland, and there’s great graffiti work (and commissioned murals) readily available for your eyes.
Another way to see art outside of the city is to take a hike. Seriously! Take, for example, the abandoned military complex you can explore while hiking in Marin, just on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge. The buildings have been completely covered, both inside and out, by local artists. Take precaution if you dare to enter these spaces; They’re not exactly safe or stable.
If you’re strapped for time and want to take in a huge amount of art, stop by the Mission District; Every alley and side street is stuffed with works that are in a constant state of transition. We did a photo walk at Clarion Alley, and even had the opportunity to watch the art happening and interact with the artist as he was painting. It was pretty awesome to hear his perspective and see the piece being created.
We leave you with a random assortment of the totally cool, absolutely bizarre or otherwise beautiful artwork we’ve stumbled upon this year. Be sure to keep your heads up and your cameras ready… There’s art everywhere, and it could be gone tomorrow.