Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Back in September I noticed this mural at 19th & Guerrero in the Mission. In subsequent weeks I saw no changes and started to assume that what looked like the first preparatory layer might in fact be the finished work. But then today I happened to walk past and could not help observing that the artist had returned to the task.

After five months, Seurat's Parisian riverbank has morphed into Dolores Park, where there is no water. A snow-flurry of big dots subdues all the former hot colors. Parasols are still present but now look redundant. The people now gaze into a vague green emptiness, wondering where the Seine went. And what is that gray barrier along the horizon? The Berlin Wall? I am not altogether sure that I do not like the first draft better. (Compare them at large size to be more fair to the artist.)

Just before Christmas I photographed this abandoned Christian Science church across the street from Dolores Park, a building that developers would like to demolish and replace with condos. And I reported here that local protesters hoped to prevent this destruction. (Perhaps the New Big American-Generated Worldwide-Depression will now prevent this destruction, even if the neighborhood protesters do not.) Today when I was looking east from a high hill this same church was the landmark that caught my eye.

On the right 20th Street leads in a straight line all the way over to Potrero Hill. In the foreground we have some San Francisco cherry blossoms. The exact middle of the picture is occupied by the vacant white church with its dark dome, so far unchanged and unharmed. The sunlight was filtered, not direct, but after three days of rain even a hint of light made all the subtle colors glow.