2009 photo by Bryan Gibel

Pico Sanchez’s friends – and they are many – use the same words to describe his art as they do his spirit: vibrant, playful, rooted in Mexico, but in love with the Mission.

Sanchez, 63, died unexpectedly in his sleep early Monday morning. A painter, printmaker and muralist, he was president and a longtime member of Project Artaud, the pioneering artists’ live/work space and culture complex on Alabama Street.

Katia Fuentes, a fellow artist and Project Artaud resident, remembers Sanchez as a leader and friend. “He was very humble and very dependable. Pico was a strong pillar in the community,” she said.

Sanchez loved to throw parties and tell stories about his childhood. His door was always open, Fuentes said. Among his most frequent visitors were the community’s children, drawn to his lovebirds and parakeets and his collection of hundreds of stuffed rabbits.

Sanchez, who described his artwork as both sophisticated and naive in a 2009 interview with SF Art News, earned degrees in fine arts in Mexico City and arts communication in Wisconsin. Rabbits, calaveras, Aztec symbols and Frida Kahlo were touchstones in his work.

The artist’s sudden death came during the final days of an exhibit, “Three Tigers,” featuring work by Sanchez and his two sons, Solomon and Hayyim. Alexa Treviño, who helped curate the show at Artillery Gallery, said Sanchez’s art echoes the life of the neighborhood he called home for more than 20 years. “He has a vibrant style. It’s really bold and loud. They’re very fun paintings. Very inviting and colorful – just like the Mission,” she said.

On Tuesday, many of his shocked friends and fans came to the gallery to spend time with his work and share memories.

Treviño shared her own bittersweet recollections: “He was raw. He was a badass. He was really funny and really youthful in his attitude, but you could see he had years under his belt.”

Artillery Gallery (2751 Mission St.) will host a memorial for Sanchez on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. “Three Tigers” closes on Friday.

Share memories of Sanchez and see more photos of his life and work here.

Bridget Huber

Bridget writes about community groups, non-profits and collectives for Mission Loc@l.

Join the Conversation


  1. Pico was that kind of friend that will always share amazing stories and if you were homesick the remedy was Pico’s spot because he will play the finest mexican music from his huge collection of vinyls from all times. He was proud of his Mexican heritage. Good times with Pico’s art & music.
    Hope the murals in Mission last long. He will remain in our hearts always.

  2. Pico was both roots and wings here at Artaud. He was a mentor to each of my kids and we are missing him something fierce. Thank you for this lovely piece of writing that so perfectly describes him.

  3. Pico,Thank you for being my uncle, my friend, part of my life, you were far away but always be in my heart, I stored a few, but beautiful amazing stories and moments beside you that I’ll never forget.
    Love you…

  4. I met Pico very recently for the first time at the open studios event in late October. I was struck by what a gentlemen he was, and he told me about his upcoming show with his sons, which he was very proud of, and to be showing with them.

    Much love to his family. Ben

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