‘A Mural: in 3 Acts’ – An Update

On July 2, 2010, I showed video footage documenting the creation of a mural that was brought into and highlighted at the de Young Museum, for its Cultural Encounters Friday Night program series on San Francisco’s mural movement, past and present.

The mural exhibited was created by 5 young San Francisco mural artists on a typical San Fran June early evening, the sun setting, fog peaking over Twin Peaks, the wind its aid on its travel. The crew met at Precita Park in the city’s Bernal Heights neighborhood – my old stomping grounds – setting up right in front of the wonderfully warm Precita Eyes Mural Center’s workshop. I was commissioned to document the mural’s creation, with the idea that the footage would serve as a backdrop, unedited and raw, documenting the process.

The mural took a little over 2 hours to create. Filming began near the starting point, and ended as the sun set and the crew stood back to take a look at their collaborative creation. As I went back over the footage, and following the instructions to keep the footage raw without much editing, I watched the entire creative process unfold, witnessing how the neighbors came into the process, how the community and the artists interacted, starting new connections.

As a verite documentation of the creation of a mural, I do hope this unedited film served its purpose as a backdrop to understanding and appreciating the mural process as a whole. I do hope to have the chance to edit and bring more life to this footage. One of the muralists posed the possibility of hooking the footage to a music video!

Here are a few photos from the evening. Thanks to those who came out, and those who asked to know more.

What struck me most during the mural’s creation was the interaction with the community, neighbors and passers-by who ran across the artists painting that June afternoon. The images and expressions sparked good exchange about not only the ideas behind the images, often expressing a pulsating need to embrace cultural diversity and to speak on the world around them, the events of the day. But, also the youth, the younger generations that these artists work with in their day jobs, and the frustrations they express, the challenges those young people face. Some might criticize such a respected cultural institution for offering space for growing artists with these experiences to share. The value of the Cultural Encounters Program is the courage to be a partner in the development of a wide range of artistic traditions, Graf being only one.

The Cultural Encounters Program brings diverse voices and art for one night a week to connect with museum goers drawn to the de Young’s spectacular art collection, and to see the latest in contemporary art and themes. What an honoring the de Young makes through this community arts program that has bought into its grand space art from all parts and voices of San Francisco.

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