Through the years, San Francisco has been a golden gateway for artists, thinkers and writers to express what is on their minds. Next to Los Angeles and Chicago, it is one of the top US cities for murals, with over 1,000 works that have turned alleys and building façades into open-air galleries.
Though impossible to encompass, this San Francisco Snapshot gives a sneak-peek at some of the vivid works, reflecting on the free-flowing spirit of mural artists that have used the City by the Bay as their canvas.
As many murals across the city delve into the economic, cultural, and societal challenges and changes, many others are for fun, for whimsy, and for the admiration of someone special to the artist. One of the three recent works by anonymous East Coast artist Believe in People (BiP) included in this snapshot is “No Ceilings”, a striking new vision for “Rosie the Riveter”, an homage to all women overcoming obstacles, and an interpretation of “Black Girl Magic”
In the bustling mid-Market area, Argentinian Cobre (Andres Iglesias) honored the late Robin Williams with a mural that captured his twinkling eyes that conveyed both the feelings of happiness and of sadness, reflecting the inner turmoil that contributed to the famed actor's suicide. At Port Pier 92, the extraordinary 187-foot tall “Bayview Rise” by Haddad | Drugan is an illuminated mural with abstract and intermingling geometric patterns that metaphorically symbolize the Bayview community's transformation through the years, both economically and ecologically. Utilizing unusual media of recycled paper glued to the building with wheatpaste, New York-based artist Swoon, made a tribute to her grandmother, who was nicknamed the “Ice Queen”.
Piece By Piece documents San Francisco's graffiti culture from the early 1980s to 2004. It is narrated by San Francisco graffiti artist Senor One, better known as Renos. The San Francisco Bay Guardian's Cheryl Eddy singled the film out as the highlight of the 2006 Hi/Lo film festival, calling it "an educational experience" and "a thoughtful document".
Author and Photographer: Sophoan Sorn
NorCal-based Sophoan Sorn was born in a refugee camp on the border of Cambodia and Thailand in 1985. He is a curator and organizer of contemporary international film festivals, now in his 10th season as Director of the Berlin & Beyond Film Festival, an annual program of the Goethe-Institut San Francisco.
Through the years, he has worked as a portrait photographer, documentary filmmaker, and graphic designer. He watches hundreds of films each year and has attended major festivals such as the Berlinale, Cannes, and Sundance. He is also Director of the San Joaquin International Film Festival, which he founded in 2008. An avid traveler, he has been to 60 countries around the world.