Jeepers Treepers

The Beginning explained

A few days ago I posted the pic below, which shows the sentence “the beginning is always today” made out of tape along a chain link fence on Capp Street. A mutual friend connected me with one of the apparent artists, who sent in their initial explanation and a follow up. I wonder if the DPW would consider this art or vandalism, since it is made out of placed objects, and thus easily removed. Maybe it’s just littering.

[by Eric Wise]

An ordinary chain-link fence, sandwiched between a garbage-filled sidewalk and private parking lot, provides a dreary backdrop for over half of the Capp Street block between 22nd and 23rd street. In an effort to bring some life to the neglected block, we kicked off a temporary installation project at the site of the fence. The first piece was completed in November – artistic signage made of simple flagging tape. The process of installation, over the course of a few weeknights, proved personally rewarding in its own sense. Curious neighbors and strangers approached with questions and exciting ideas of their own. The project connected me to neighbors I had lived close to for many years but had never met. Jesse, a neighbor who introduced himself to me during installation, expressed how meaningful it was to see the first words “the beginning” completed the same day his son was born. The ongoing installation project seeks to spark more conversation not only among the neighbors but also about how we can collectively shape and encourage the already fantastic community within our neighborhoods.

WEEKEND UPDATE: The project was installed in November as a temporary piece, and we planned to take it down after a month. However, for now, we’re leaving it up because the feedback from the neighbors (all types) has been overwhelmingly positive and many say they never want it taken down. As a complement to this first artwork, last weekend we (myself + different crew) installed a Spanish phrase in orange. Unlike the first English phrase which the neighborhood loves, this new Spanish one was cut down within 48 hours. The seemingly neutral phrase read “merece lo que sueñas”, a quote by the famous Mexican writer Octavio Paz. We don’t know who cut it down or why, though some friends believe the phrase was mistaken for a gang message (sueñas is very close to sureñas) and if so, was cut down by the rival gang. Interesting experiment that proved it’s worth realizing how differently certain groups (especially in the still diverse neighborhood of the mission) may interpret the same thing.

The next day she followed up with this:

This morning the original artwork is being taken down by the US Bank building (who owns the fence). The City finally saw photos of the fence and informed the neighborhood that it is a $2000+ fine…

Well, that makes sense. The bank owns the fence and can do what they want. If we want to look at this in black and white terms, they did something illegal and it got removed at the expense of others. But if we believe the above account, it would be worth a moment to think about the way little expressions like this can add to the quality of life in the neighborhood. Something that some people did for their neighbors or anyone who walks by, without desire for money or attention in return. Something that makes the experience of the street hopefully better, and we know that Capp can use it. I would posit that little things like this are a big part of what made this neighborhood desirable to a lot of the current residents. So the law is upheld, but at what long term cost? Yeah, it’s just some tape on a fence, but it’s a nice gesture, made with good intentions. Maybe there’s a compromise somewhere here? How does this neighborhood grow without losing the little bits of intrigue, the touches of magic here and there, the space to communicate in different ways, to remind each other that it’s okay to try something? I know that sounds pretentious, but little gestures inspire me, a lot more than $10 cocktails or $5 lattes.

UPDATE: I got a response from a neighbor who was not very fond of the fence art. Uptown Almanac’s Kevin Montgomery is a noted fan of SF street art in general, but wasn’t really feeling this particular appearance. Though he was almost inspired to change it himself.

Kevin also caught the fence getting used in some kind of birthing porn shoot.

The Beginning is Always Today

As seen by Eric Wise.