The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Media Relations Manager, Paul Rose, wrote in regarding our post about the utility box holding mural artist Mona Caron’s artwork being replaced and then later found in a lot. He writes:
I saw your post on this issue and wanted to pass this info on:
The controller box was replaced after the completion of the Church & Duboce Rail Replacement project, as part of a system-wide upgrade of various electrical sectionalized switches and associated controller boxes. The urgency of replacing the switches was made apparent after the nine day shutdown at Church and Duboce, when one of the switches failed shortly after it was re-energized. To upgrade the switch at Church & Duboce, the associated painted box also had to be replaced. We are working to have the box re-painted by the artist. We anticipate this process will be complete within the next 3 months.
So, you know, if they hadn’t done this quickly, maybe there would have been a major Muni meltdown and we would all complain about that instead. Let’s hope we get another piece from Caron on the new box.
I just want to clarify for a moment, my feelings on public art (I wasn’t aware that anyone cared!). Of course I understand the temporary nature of these kinds of pieces. Everything everywhere is temporary. That doesn’t mean we won’t mourn the loss of something that we enjoyed. Am I going to hold a vigil? No, but I’ll post about it. Public art is also important as a way to get artwork out of galleries and let it live among the people. Caron’s work, specifically, is great at doing many things at once, telling stories, offering visions of a hopeful future for urban life, challenging us to look at everyday surroundings in new ways, etc. Oh, and also they’re beautiful. I appreciate her views and that she shares them freely with the rest of us. I want it to be around us as we move about our days. I also want the SFMTA to be efficient and effective in getting us all where we need to go. Let’s hope both parties are willing and able to continue to bring us pieces like MANIFESTATION STATION.
UPDATE: Here’s Mona Caron’s response (updated for MM readers) –
Hey San Francisco friends, I GOT THE STORY! …It’s long.
As a preface, I wanna say I’m amazed and moved by all you people appreciating the artwork and caring about it. I’m feeling truly blessed and re-invigorated about the work I do – THANK YOU <3 .
Now, about this incident:
There's no malice, and no stupid people involved in this. I still love MUNI . Even the folks who removed the box (which they left in the yard of the MTA traction power station at 2502 Alameda Street) who refused to believe this isn't illegal graffiti, are holding that belief for a pretty good reason: they simply cannot believe MTA would have artwork put on a box that has been slated for replacement for a long time. Makes total sense to me. So the goof-up goes further back, and if anything, this story is showing me that there is a reason for the lengthy bureaucratic process when the entity has as many hands at work simultaneously as MTA, and attempting to shortcut it can feel empowering in the moment, but leads to the proverbial left hand undoing what right hand just did.
-- So, for those San Franciscans who care about the minutiae, here is what happened, as I understand it:
MTA needed to install 2 new boxes as part of Church and Duboce Track improvement project of 2012. The community complained of additional sidewalk clutter. Under pressure, MTA softened the pill by agreeing to beautify the 2 new boxes with art, wrote that into the budget. Cool.
THEN, another neighborhood group, (Wigg party?) wiggle and bicycle enthusiasts, put further pressure, asking for a pre-existing old box to be included in the beautification project. This was a last minute addition, pushed for by well-meaning, community-oriented people, and nice people at MTA shooed that in. I repeatedly asked about the projected longevity of that old box, and was reassured. *That* is where the goof lies.
That 3rd box became the Manifestation Station. The head of the department in charge of its contents, about to retire, apparently gave the green light.
Now, the contents of that box needed to be replaced so badly, that a while back a sectionalizing switch inside it actually blew up, and caused a 9-day mess at that corner affecting J and N train service. I remember seeing the white smoke sediments beneath the box's vents.
The new, modern switches apparently come with taller-format boards, requiring, alas, this new, narrower but much taller box.
Yeah they could still have given me a heads up at least, but that no longer matters now. In the scheme of things, a well-functioning, not prone to explosions public transit seems more important to me than my painting.
The box they removed was site-specific to the extreme, down to the 1/4 inch, so once it is moved, near of far, it looses its whole point to me. So I don't actually want it back in the street in some random place that doesn't make sense.
But hey, maybe if you tell MTA you really want it, they could have me paint the new one?
Let’s hope she is able to do something new here, and that her amazing piece that was there has been somehow salvaged.
[both photos via Mona Caron's Facebook page]
Our buddy Christopher sent us this pic he took at the Street Food Festival of the mural at Cesar Chavez Elementary School. There is a large white stripe that almost seems as if it’s specifically covering Chavez’s mouth.
Hmmmm . . . ?
It’s old news that Mission businesses would rather pay a muralist to put up an original piece, or in this case branded content, than have to keep buffing tags every morning. It also happens to seem like a good idea to me. As a customer of both Calumet (CF cards and grip rentals) and Sirron Norris (t-shirts) I’m pretty into this design.
(click the image to see it full size)
Norris explains on his blog:
I’m happy to announce a new project I will be starting July 16th 2012. This mural will be located at 2001 Bryant and 18th street in the Mission district.
My hope with this project, is to reach out to other artists and arts organizations in my community through collaboration. I also want to inspire my interns and give them one of the biggest challenges in their artistic life. On a personal note: this will be one for the books and will push my talent and experience to it’s fullest. I know the team I have at the gallery and the invaluable experience Precita eyes has, will help accomplish this massive undertaking. Keep posted for updates as we move closer to starting.
This is a pretty dense piece, but that’s pretty much what he does best. Norris’s characters are well done, but not really my style, but his building textures are my favorite.
For those of you who feel like the neighborhood gets oversaturated by the same artists (Norris, Reyes, Schoultz, etc.), yeah, that does tend to happen, but in time other things take their place. And I like that Norris is really committed to involving other inspiring street artists, who he probably hopes will one day put their own stamp on their hood.
Update: Our buddy Doc reminded us that today is National Camera Day! I must be operating on some kind of useless ESP! Awesome! Go take a picture of something! But seriously, cameras are rad.
Reader Lily tipped us to a new mural-in-the-works in Balmy Alley. From the looks of it, this one will involve monkeys, clowns, and the 48.
This little chili is all at once a little bit happy to see you, but also overheated from running in the desert heat, and experiencing some nervousness that is inspiring unfortunate violent actions toward a specific taco.
You can figure it out for yourself at El Gran Taco Loco. (warning, autoplay music)
Reader Rob sent in this shot of a incredible new-ish mural up on 24th and Florida on what he calls “one of the crappiest buildings in the Mission”.
It is a phoenix, right? I was gonna say chicken, but that would have been offensive to people who care.
Just saying. Here’s one that pays proper homage to the city’s Asian heritage. And crows, one of the smartest birds around  and obvious heir of Tyrannosaurus Rex. Look how majestic they perch! Vancouver has the crows to thank for the city’s lack of pigeon epidemic. Also:
Bonus: Urban farm! With people working on it in the rain. Vancouver is hardcore.
We’ve got plenty of murals in San Francisco. We need more farms. Case closed.