En Español

When Phil Jaber fixed his window at Philz Coffee on 24th Street and Folsom, he moved a billboard over to cover a 2001 mural, “Materialistic Displacement,” by Fredericko Alvarado and Manuel Sanchez.

The mural includes a tank, a space-suited person pushing a shopping cart filled with computer monitors, and a Dali-like body floating overhead. It was done during the dot-com boom and captures the surreal pace of that time.

Because of that extreme surreal quality, Jaber said Monday morning that he wasn’t sure if he still likes the mural. Maybe, he suggested, he should ask the artists to make a few changes. He also asked — jokingly — if I would like to buy it.

But, he said, I like to listen to people. According to Jaber, I was the first person to ask about it.

As the owner, he’s responsible for letting the artists know before anything is done to the mural. The artists have also been contacted by Mission Loc@l and asked to comment.

In the meantime, Jaber is listening. What should Phil do?

Lydia Chávez

I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born...

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  1. I’m not sure if I understand, but from the pictures with the story, is the choice between a weird mural and a repetitive beer commercial. Even that I like drinking beer, the mural would win.

  2. While the mural is weird, it is unique and lovely. And we already have billboard ads across the street at La Parilla.

  3. I grew up in the Mission, actually 1/2 a block from Philz. All us kids new Phil and would always go to his store, that’s saying alot since he is 1 of 3 on the corners of 24th and Mission.

    It’s good to see that Philz has stood the test of time and is still there. Part of what has made him successful is that he’s not just a store owner but he is part of the community.

    Phil, keep the mural. It’s part of our community, it’s part of our culture, our murals are part of what makes the Mission so unique. There’s no place like the Mission.

  4. Agree, and the weirdness of that mural is one of the things that makes it work. certainly makes it different in style and content.But seriously,why is this even a question?

  5. What a hideous mural.

    Unfortunately, the billboard is even more hideous. Just start over, already…

  6. My guess is Phil is making money from the billboard? I agree with Drew, they’re both hideous. I’d get a good artist and make a new mural.

  7. “Why is this even a question?” Indeed. No effing billboards, especially at street level! How about: Jaber and the other community business owners hire another local artist to paint over the mural. Throw a fundraiser. Anything but more advertisements.

  8. WTF? Heineken ad over mural art?! The answer is pretty obvious, if you don’t get it, you don’t belong in the Mission!

  9. Original artwork is always better than advertising, and murals are a staple of the creative vibe of the Mission. So, as a resident near Philz, I say keep the mural! I’m also an art lawyer. We won the Lilli Ann mural case a few years back. Just so folks know, visual arts rights laws (federal and state)protect murals as paintings from defacement, alteration, and destruction. Bottom line, no one can just paint over a mural without notice to the muralist, and offering them a chance to remove the original mural from the wall at their own expense. Surprisingly, most murals can be removed and preserved. It is not a big burden on the building owner to provide notice, just a first class letter. But if they just destroy a mural without complying with the law, then the penalties can be large. There are lots of ins and outs to the laws; if anyone wants to know more, there is an article on our website (www.oliversabec.com).

  10. The billboard should definitely go – it doesn’t add anything special and is an eyesore itself. Murals capture a moment in time; Phil should either keep this one to represent the dot-com boom or a new one should be created – with artist and community input – reflecting the current moment. Maybe something capturing the different feel of the neighborhood now and something with the old and new faces of the neighborhood.

  11. Even though we no longer live in the Mission, and actually live only one block from a new PHILZ, we definitely believe interesting and handsome murals should be preserved and protected to the extent possible. Perhaps Philz should just brighten up the existing mural and definitely get rid of the advertisements. An eyesore will not sell beer or coffee.

    Toby Levine

  12. I tried to paint a community mural over another mural once. It didn’t work out for me in the end. Phil puts up a corporate billboard advertising alcohol over a mural and the posts are barely heated. My question is: would the voice of the Mission be louder if it was a graffiti based mural-not a traditionally painted one? I feel this move clearly goes against the sensibilities of the Mission residents-he should learn from my mistake.
    People should remember the story of that mural not to remember to buy beer.

  13. The billboards remind me of some stupid popup you’d see on a website. We have enough advertisements in this world already; we don’t need to go covering up original works of art. I’m certain that this particular mural has inspired more people and provoked more thought than a few green beer bottles. Up until this point, I didn’t know the mural existed. And while it isn’t my taste, I can definitely appreciate it for what it is. It captures the essence of a moment and gives it a voice long after the moment is gone. Phil, think of the the intimacy any mural has with it’s community. They’re often unique creations made by the people living in that very area. The exact opposite can be said about the ads. ’nuff said.

  14. Of course the mural wins over a plastered beer posters. But the real story is the corporate based enforcement of the graffiti and signage laws. In 2002 the City passed the proposition against new sign passed by over 70% of the voters.

    The City department do act to remove tagger / traditional graffiti, but do nothing about the illegal beer advertisement, movie poster, etc that pollute the visual space of the Mission.

    The corporate guy who is graffiting the neighborhood, and making 100,000 of thousands of dollars doing it is more criminal than the HS outcast who puts up some tags. For Los Angeles, it is well documented that they were paying $100,000 per month for illegal building size graffiti adverstizings.

    Drive out the beer and corporate graffiti it is worse than the outcast taggers.

  15. Well, speaking from the angle of an artist, and a street atrist at that… and to play the devils advocate, would there be a big problem if the entire mural was covered, not just left hanging on the edges like it was. In the graffit world, if you go over someone with your own work or in this case a billboard, you cover that person totally. You do not disrespect by leaving things floating like the billboard does. Now, Philz is most likely getting paid to have this billboard on the side of the building. The mural on the other hand, most likely has not garnished any amount of revenue for philz. Thats what it comes down to… can i make more money for this or not. If the artist wanted their work to last… upkeep is the key. Even when speaking of leagal murals. The mural had taggs on it and around it. Was the mural revelant for 2010 mission… maybe.. maybe not. This is the game that is played while doing art on the street. Yes you can have the opportunity to be like most yuppy san franciscans and sue philz for the covering of the mural, but most likely there was no contract signed.. so how do you argue that! If you want your murals to last.. change them up. Know the laws and be ontop of your game!! A good street artist to look at is Apex. His murals constantly change… every few months every year so on so forth..

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