SAVE THE DATE!
Thursday, April 13 Book Launch Party
6 pm to 9 pm, Grand Theater, 2665 Mission Street, San Francisco
178 full-color photographs. (Sneak a peek here.)
Featuring works by Precita Eyes muralists and other local artists
Foreword by US poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera
Introduction by Carla Wojczuk
Published by Heyday Books, in collaboration with Precita Eyes
* Now available at the Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center *
2981-24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110, Tel: (415) 285-2287
Your District, Your Vote
Schoolchildren's Giant Veggies
Adorn the Tenderloin People's Garden
A giant carrot, an onion with tears, and florid head of lettuce stand like sentries at the gate of the Tenderloin People's Garden, at the corner of Larkin and McAllister.
The faux veggies are painted in greens so vivid you can almost taste them. Eighteen wooden cutouts are sandwiched between the slats of the fence that encloses the garden. The cutouts are the handiwork of students from nearby Bessie Carmichael Elementary School, fruits of a three-month artist in residency program.
"Veggies for the People" employed paint and poetry to connect the 3rd and 4th graders to their community garden and neighborhood concerns about lack of access to healthy, affordable, fresh produce.
The Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, located across from Civic Center Plaza, distributes the produce it grows to the residents.
Towering high above the small corner plot is the monumental mural "Growing Together,” a six-story homage to urban gardeners. Painted by local volunteers and Precita Eyes Muralists, the mural was unveiled last November. (Read more here)
|DRONE'S EYE VIEW of the "Growing Together" at the Tenderloin People's Garden. Drone footage by @Culturedvisualarts founder (Freeman) @trappedoutfreeeman captures "Growing Together" at the Tenderloin People's Garden from the sky.
"Veggies for the People" Installation
Precita Eyes partnered with the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts' artist-in-residence program at Bessie Carmichael over the course of 10 weeks. Master muralist Fred Alvarado mentored the students from rooms 207 and 208 in basic drawing, watercolor, and acrylic techniques.
Addressing the students at the project's closing ceremony, "Mr. Fred" reminded them that the process of making art "teaches you to be creative in searching for solutions." The Oakland-based muralist works with youth at Richmond Arts and Contra Costa Community College, and is part of Precita Eyes' new Walls of Respect youth arts program.
Students enjoyed the chance to express themselves in words and paint. Dan, a third-grade, not only composed and recited his Ode to Soup (below), he also took on the job of painting a cucumber nearly as big as he is.
The exuberant forms and colors the students gave their art were inspired by a poetry workshop organized by 826 Valencia/The Writing Center. The Odes celebrate foods from soup to pineapples. The collected verses will be published in a chapbook for the students and their families.
"Veggies for the People" combines arts education and community development in an inner city patch of San Francisco where affordable, fresh produce are hard to find. The installation connects local schoolchildren to the TNDC's healthy food projects and its advocacy of food justice.
Located south of Market, Bessie Carmichael is the K-8 school closest to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, which supported the artist-in-residence program. The school's Filipino Education Center is one of the few city programs with instruction in Tagalog.
In a celebration held at the YBCA (and not in the garden itself, as planned, due to heavy rain), students recited their food-themed verses to classmates, parents and well-wishers.
Desiree Badong, here to chaperone and hear her daughter Kira read a poem, praised the arts program as a "therapeutic, helpful, wonderful outlet for children living in a neighborhood full of challenges."
Gardener Alex Dazhan, who tends the Tenderloin garden, told students how the garden benefits local people by providing them access to healthy food. He encouraged them to bring their families to the garden, show off their artwork, and receive free produce. On Harvest Day, which takes place every other Wednesday, garden produce is distributed free-of-charge to community residents.
This project is a collaboration between the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Precita Eyes Muralists, the 826 Valencia Writing Project, the Tenderloin Development Neighborhood Corporation, and the Tenderloin People's Garden.
BEHIND THE GARDEN FENCE: Winter harvest of edible greens and fantastical foods.
IN THE SHOP: Artist-in-residence Fred Alvarado and Precita Eyes’ volunteer artists transform the student's visions into super-sized morsels.
VEGGIES GUARD THE GARDEN, as the "Growing Together" mural looks on.
Student Odes To Food and Art
Verses by Bessie Carmichael students are among the fruits of this garden project. Three poetry sessions organized by 826 Valencia's Tenderloin Center introduced youngsters to the joys of "simile, exaggeration, personification, and the telling detail," says coordinator Jillian Wasick. The odes will be published in a chapbook for the students and their families.
Some of the odes exalt the virtues of apples, pineapples, cucumbers, and garden greens; others celebrate pizza, spaghetti with meatballs, and the sour candies of
"Spaghetti , Spaghetti, You Are the Best
Spaghetti, you are as wiggly as an earthquake inside Jell-O.
Spaghetti Sauce, you are as red as a fire truck. ..."
You are as pretty as a puppy..."
"Oh cucumbers, thanks for being my favorite color.
You are health. You make me strong..."
"Oh Soup, thank you for your tastiness and kindness.
You taste sweet and flavorful
with a pinch of non-spicy pepper.
Soup, you make a call and say, "I am deeeeelish!"
Precita Eyes’ Class Act: Mural-Making at Schools
It's a sunlit day in late January, and Ms. Dox's 4th graders at JFK elementary pull taunt the red ribbon they're about to cut to inaugurate the mural they've been working on for months.
They've got the drill down pat, and it's not surprising. This is the school's fourth mural with Precita Eyes in two years, and the second this year. (See "Our JFK Community Mural Project” , and "Legacy of Heroes Mural Project")
Murals, a bit faded, from collaborations years ago with a previous generation of students, still line the halls.
"They bring such light and life to our campus," says Matt Harris, the principal of this Daly City grade school. "They're a lasting legacy. We have parents who were here when those first murals were painted."
"So, how long do you think these murals will be here?" Yuka Ezoe, Precita Eyes Education Director and lead artist for this project, asks the class. "Maybe 30 years? You'll all be in your forties!"
The 10-year olds respond with groans and laughter.
The students named this mural "United."
"They had so much to say," says teacher Morgan Dox. "So many students are immigrants themselves or from immigrant families. The mural gave them a chance to celebrate their individual cultures. Students went home and asked their families about their cultural heritage and its symbols."
And the students? Here are comments taken from reports they wrote, documenting their experience.
* "I didn't know what cultural heritage meant. I thought it might mean something about our culture. Then Ms. Yuka explained. I drew things, like a cobra and Filipino food."
* "We had to draw signs of our culture and choose something to be on the mural. I chose an Aztec dragon from Mexico."
* "They asked us where we're from. Then we had to sketch something representing our country. They gave us books to get more ideas. I found it might be good to put the Great Wall of China there. I was happy to draw it."
* "I wanted my flowers and the Samoan flag."
Dozens of Murals, Dozens of Schools
In the past several months, Precita Eyes artists have led more than a dozen projects in area schools. The lengths of the projects differ, from long-term (up to three months) to instant (one-day) murals. So do the sources of funding, which can come from parents, community grants, arts organizations, or others.
But the methodology employed in the classroom is always the same: with grace and encouragement, the Precita leaders walk the students through these steps: theme development, research, sketch, composition, working to scale, creating the master drawing, gridding, transferring and, finally, painting.
One boy described the process this way: "Mr. Joe (Colmenares, the second Precita artist on this project) told us to put our pencil in front of us and pretend our pencil was a rose and to pretend to smell it."
Selecting symbols, picking and choosing, agreeing on colors and location of the imagery: it's a lot of collaboration for children. And sometimes painting can get a bit messy.
"Joaquin's mom helped us," wrote one girl. "My hair was down, so she made me look like the princess from Star Wars. Ms. Yuka gave me two kinds of paints and I tried mixing them. But they started dripping on me. So she helped me clean it up.
Snapshots in Schools
|Students at the Nueva School (Hillsborough) line up to paint the instant mural "Unity, Equality, and Change"
|Second grade students at Peabody painted scenes from the marine, savannah, desert, rainforest, forest, and freshwater realms in "Preserve our Biomes
||Welcome to the mural dedication at George Peabody Elementary School (San Francisco), guided by lead artist Francisco Franco.
|"Spirit of Change": Youths at the San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services depicted a swan fleeing from a cage, a symbol that express the need to free themselves in order to experience the changes of life. At center, a pack of wolves runs with hares. The concept of prey and predator coexisting is rare, the young artists explained, and something they would like to see in their communities. Precita Eyes collaborators Eli Lippert and Priya Handa guided the youth. More here