I've begun my first outdoor mural in San Francisco! And I'm thrilled to be working out of my own neighborhood in the Dogpatch (at the intersection of 19th St. and Illinois St.).
While I’ve painted many murals in the past with my former Baltimore-based business Blue Lined Designs, this is the first mural that aligns with my studio work. I hope it will be the first of many!
I haven’t been in San Francisco very long, but I’ve got a lot of love for Dogpatch. It reminds me of Baltimore, with its big industrial buildings and local pride. Many are getting torn down or renovated in neighborhood redevelopment, including the building where the mural will be.
The story of how this project came about is pretty serendipitous. A neighbor posted on NextDoor about a “short-lived mural opportunity.” On our block was a vacant building that would soon be torn down for a mixed residential building to go up in its place. They obtained permission to temporarily turn it into a vibrant and colorful focal point on the block, and I jumped on the opportunity.
Besides being a personal experiment for me (I’ve never done a painting of this scale!), another aim of the project was to celebrate and memorialize these spaces and defining symbols of Dogpatch, as they stand today. Across the street from the mural wall, facing the Bay, construction is already well underway on a public waterfront park, and a complete redevelopment of Pier 70, an old shipyard and industrial center.
What I also didn’t realize at the time is that the parking lot buffering the wall and fenced off from the street (dubbed Buspatch) was home to a group of folks who have been living “off the grid” in the middle of downtown San Francisco—in a self-sufficient system of buses—just one of many empty lots and buildings they’ve reclaimed and transformed over the years and around the U.S.
A transient mural, in the middle of a transient community, and neighborhood.
Though the mural is public by nature, by painting it I was essentially being invited into their home. Any sense of discomfort I had over invading their space or privacy was only met with generosity—from helping to troubleshoot the scissor lift, use their solar power to charge the spray gun, offering food and lunches, and giving me water from their tanks to paint and clean with. Though the nature of all this is fleeting, I can't thank them enough.
This project also became an opportunity to connect with the local businesses that make Dogpatch what it is. With 2100 sq. ft. of wall, and no budget to back the project, I was going to need some help.
I’m proud to say that all of the equipment, paint, and supplies for the mural are being generously loaned or donated by local businesses—which says so much about the character of the community. A heartfelt thank you to Center Hardware, San Francisco PaintSource, and Cresco Equipment Rental for making this at all possible.
We’re taking lots of photo and video documentation, with help from a few friends, which we’ll share in a photo documentary and short video once the mural's complete. We'll also be documenting the building's demolition, whenever that day comes.
Follow along on Instagram for more progress and behind the scenes.