POSITIVELY 4TH ST AND OTHERS
In 1974 the federal government instituted the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA). It was intended to be similar to the WPA, created in response to a struggling economy. I was in the first wave of artists hired, working at the de Young Museum in San Francisco teaching children’s classes. We were paid the princely sum of $648 per month. I convinced the museum to let me paint a mural on the south wall facing the staff parking lot on panels. Then I asked them to let me do another. John Rumply, a great painter in his own right, designed this second painting with me. We mounted an opaque projector to the top of my ’47 Chevy pickup, ran a looong extension cord from the museum office, and projected this drawing in sections, driving back and forth to get the image to line up. The process went on for several nights, helped or hindered by considerable quantities of Jack Daniels and marijuana. Cassette tapes of Willie Nelson both attracted and repelled a potential audience at 3am. Positively Fourth Street stayed on the wall for a year or so, until it was removed for the King Tut exhibit. Eventually it ended up on a retaining wall at Fort Mason Center where John repainted it several times while I moved onto Montana and LA. Painted with oils, the painting eventually deteriorated in the salty air. The CETA program also gave the world great clowns; Bill Irwin, Geoff Hoyle, Larry Pisoni from the Pickle Family Circus. Later the program moved from hiring artists to training security guards…but there was this moment.
The mural was painted on panels as the museum was hedging its bets on posterity. Sure enough, it has been a downhill path for the artist and this painting since then.
Painted egrets fly past this reflected view of Emeryville mudflat driftwood sculptures in this architectural illusion adorning the side of Toot Sweet Bakery in Berkeley. Originally painted in oils in 1979, the painting was redone using silicate paint in 1995.
Across the street from the M&M bar in San Francisco’s SOMA back in 1984, this mural presented a mirror image of Baker’s Beach to a diverse collection of Chronicle journalists, tourists, and indigents. Funded by SOMAR and BofA the building was later home to Bill Graham productions. The building along with the mural was demolished in 2012. RIP Bill.
This was the first mural I painted in the de Young parking lot, under the auspices of the CETA program In 1975. Painted in oil on panels this work was temporarily installed at SF Civic Center and Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek. It has long since disappeared.