Entries Wrap Tech Buses With Humor, Anger, Art & Politics and the Winner is.. Updated

By Elinor Diamond. A Reminder of what we are missing in Mountain View. The original Street View was withdrawn by the artist.

Updated: Feb. 8, 2014

Elinor Diamond, the artist who won the Mission Local contest to turn the tech bus into a vehicle for art, has asked that we replace the Google Street View she used in her original entry with a different Street View.

The Street View of the original art included part of storefront painted by Jet Martinez, an artist who did not want to be part of the contest. It also included the opening to Clarion Alley where some other artists opposed to the tech buses and the contest have art. The artist and the judges were unaware that the storefront was a Martinez work.

Although Diamond’s image had been up on the site for more than two months, once it won, it triggered a barrage of comments from these artists and others — raising questions of who owned the image, art and feelings toward the Google buses.

While Mission Local was happy to stand by Diamond’s original work, it is her work and the decision to replace it is hers to make.

She wrote in an email, “I wrote to Rigo and Jet personally because we know a lot of the same people and I couldn’t handle the venom behind so many of the comments….I told them that I would send over another mock-up to ML of the same concept using different screenshots and request that ML pull the original. After all it was the concept that won, so I guess we can see if it has legs with other imagery…And another using a street-view of Mountain View. Now we can all see what we’re missing out on.”

Diamond is right, the concept was most important. The Street Views possible are endless. Once again, her entry shows a sense of humor, an element reflected in one of her original images and also in those from many others.


The entries are in, the judges have spoken and Mission Local will award the $500 prize in its unofficial contest to bedazzle the tech buses to Elinor Diamond for a design that wraps the shuttle in an image from Google’s Street View.

Diamond, a Mission resident who we have not yet spoken to, chose an image that includes the Valencia Street entrance of Clarion Alley and the pink Community Thrift Store. In the end, Diamond’s design appealed to us on multiple layers and it was the simplicity of the idea and the complex response that put it over the top.

It brings “the virtual world to the street,” said Andrea Valencia, our translator and a Mission resident.  “The image blends the bus in with the street giving them the camouflage the tech community seems to want. I also like to think of it as a moving mirror of our urban landscape.”

Mark Rabine, a contributor, my husband, and a Mission resident for more than 30 years, added, that in an age of ambiguity “using the Google Earth image conceptually raises both light and dark aspects of digital technology.”

Others liked the layered sense of the entry, but for a different reason. The street view Diamond chose underscores art and giving — both have deep roots in the Mission.

Using a Google street view also offered a simple solution to wrapping a bus in the iconography of any neighborhood. It was an idea that other entries used including one by Jon Voss, called Time Travel. It too was popular along with Let It Leak by Ulrika Andersson, Cattle Car by David Lawrence, and Wheels by Claudia Escobar, a former videographer for Mission Local who now works on contract at Yahoo.

We launched the contest last fall after my return from a year-long break from the Mission. As I told a local news site at the time, I was surprised to see how many buses were going through the neighborhood.  The lack of any identifying markers made them oddly anonymous while their size made them impossible to hide. The white frames of many reminded me of unpainted canvases.

As long as the buses are around, it seemed like a good idea to make them and their passengers less separate from the community. I also thought the contest might encourage some of the companies that run the shuttles to hire local artists to do the work. At least one has agreed to. Genentech called in November to say that it would select one of the entries to wrap one of its buses this year. What others will do is anyone’s guess, but we will make an effort to sell them on our winner.

Of the more than four-dozen entries that we received, at least 15 had a critical message, sometimes subtle, sometimes blunt and often with humor. At least four, including Let It Leak played on the theme of surveillance.

In addition to the front-runners, judges also flagged several of Stephanie Syjuco’s designs — including Public Comfort and Raft of the Medussa.

As in Syjuco’s designs, the element of humor stood out in many of the entries — from Mike Esplin’s Lyft to My Other Car by Ifton Schlinger and Erno Raitanen’s Aw Snap, Something Went Wrong. Mike O’Connell’s Googling, with a Craigslist view of apartment prices, was perhaps the most direct in capturing one element of tech’s impact.

The 11 judges included myself, Mark Rabine (who submitted “George Orwell” but was not allowed to vote for it) and George Lipp, who are contributors, Ana Aguilar, who works in outreach, Rigoberto Hernandez and Erica Hellerstein who are reporters, Hélène Goupil, an editor, Andrea Valencia, who is our translator, Rohan Saltry, a computer science student at UC Berkeley who also works with Mission Local, Amanda Martinez, a former videographer and designer for Mission Local who works at NBC in New York, and Mads Hallas Bjerg, a 29-year-old visiting tech entrepreneur and philosophy student from Denmark. All but four have lived in the Mission.

Thank you to all who submitted work.

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  1. John

    Lydia, it’s good that you ensured that the overtly critical and political entries were not awarded.

    Since I have criticized ML for bias on this topic in the past, it’s only fair when I commend you for doing the right thing here.

    • Mark

      As one of the judges, I can tell you Lydia did nothing to ensure against “overtly critical and political” entries other than bar me from voting for my own submission, “George Orwell” (which would not have won as it received only my vote). Also, I should note that winning entry does carry, in my opinion, a very sophisticated political message. I am not surprised you missed it.

      • J-Flikka

        You’re not just “one of the judges”, you’re her husband. I’m not implying anything underhanded went on, but you are far from an unbiased voice here.

        And please tell me WTF this statement is even supposed to mean:

        “…that in an age of ambiguity “using the Google Earth image conceptually raises both light and dark aspects of digital technology.”

      • John

        I see nothing critical of Google in that design. Obviously I am not “sophisticated” enough. And you’re too sophisticated to be able to describe it, conveniently.

        Anyway, the point was more than the more overt and critical designs were rejected, which remains true, as well as desirable.

        • backtotheburbs

          Why is rejecting “more overt and critical designs” desirable? In the NEW Mission? Desirable personally for you? Please enlighten us about your ulterior motives.

          Also there appears to be disagreement as to how ‘critical’ the winning design actually is. There is defense of the ‘critical’ aspects of this design in the comments …

          Regardless, this design will ultimately get rejected from becoming an ACTUAL bus design simply because it creates a traffic hazard (as pete noted). Actually making this a real design could be construed as evil — and all of a sudden it becomes overt AND critical.

  2. pete

    Man, someone’s going to try and walk down Clarion and walk smack into that bus!

  3. 24-24

    They should make it look like the now retired 26 Vlaencia Muni bus

  4. Hank

    What an innocuous choice by Mission Local!

  5. Kathleen

    Good choice

  6. amos gregory

    From knowing the folks that have spent years painting what is now Clarion Alley Mural Project I send this message to you to protest, as a resident, artist and community member. This represents copyright infringement…the images were created by other artists and represents a repurposing of their art. By law, they must give permission. Have you reached out to them and have you secured proper intellectual copyright permissions for this?

    • Fabrizio

      I have also known some who worked on Clarion Alley and as noted below, the winning bus had not one image from Clarion Alley. It was a street photo with a store. Actually, I liked some of the other entries better. I see why the Google Earth design was chosen, but the designer could have found a more iconic, or simply more visually interesting and more Mission-centric photo or drawing. Alas.

      • It didn’t become “the pink Community Thrift Store” by google magic. An artist did that.

        “A store” painted by Jet Martinez who is one of the Clarion Alley artist who objected to the contest.

        Also the 4th mural you can see on Clarion (the view seems to be from back in 2011) is by Rigo 23 who also criticized the contest.


        • biker

          steve rhodes, are you suggesting that we have to get permission to take a photo of the outside of a building, a public street, or a mural wall? this is not stealing art, but taking a photo of public art, that which has been photographed thousands of times and is on display for everyone. so the artists are opposed to the “decorate a tech bus” project, but if they don’t want people to see and photograph their art, they should show it in private galleries and museums, not on public streets and building facades.

          • Hey Biker, actually public murals are copyrighted – though the issue with pursuing action is legal fees. But, if murals are registered with the U.S. Copyright Office – which Clarion Alley Mural Project’s (CAMP) are – then legal fees are guaranteed.

            CAMP is happy to share our work with folks for non-commercial purposes – it is public. However we do have an attorney and we pursue those who use our murals for commercial, for-profit endeavors.

          • John

            If someone took a photo of only your art and then presented it as theirs, I think you might have a point.

            but this was a street view of which your art was just a small and natural part. Moreover there was no attempt to claim your art as theirs.

            As such, I really think you’re being petty here. It’s a lousy $500 prize and you have no loss or damages. Indeed, you are getting free publicity.

          • There’s two issues… the simplest one is that Google’s Terms of Service specifically forbids derivative works of the street view photos.

            Secondly, a photo of art is also derivative work. As far as I can tell from this “proposal,” nothing has been done to alter the photo in any way. Based on the Lydia’s comparison to Duchamp’s work below, I think they’re trying to claim that this is satirical parody and, therefore, fair use.

    • Lydia Chavez Post author

      Some of the commenters – artists in an early e-mail and others- seem to think that the choice was a deliberate attempt to annoy/include them.

      First, I did not think that in responding to their e-mail back in December that I was responding to all artists or talking with all artists or all who might want to participate. As I wrote, I respect this group’s position and I did not expect to get entries from them. But their arguments did not persuade me to drop the contest.

      The idea was to get a conversation going, to maybe get some work for an artist who did want to participate, to make the buses and the people in them less separate from the community. Of course it would be up to the artist to decide whether they wanted to take a job from a tech company.

      The work chosen was chosen for the concept. The artists you refer to appear to think that we looked at the entries, tried to find something to annoy them and then selected the winner. I have to say that the notion is preposterous.

      We never discussed them or the e-mail train. The image selected has been on the web site for more than two months because it was one of the earlier entries. No one said a word until it won.

      We talked about all of the comments last night, and not one of us knew that it was a Jet Martinez mural. We do now and so do many others. I hope that helps his career.

      Street View is owned by Google. The legalities of whether they could use it is way beyond the scope of my knowledge.

      And, the Mission values of giving and art eclipse any one street view.

      • Lydia,
        You really should consider leaving “journalism” for a marketing position with one of these tech companies. It would be a far better fit.

        • SF Resident

          That’s such a rotten thing to say, especially as a representative of a community art project.

          Lydia has helped create another fantastic community resource.

          You should apologize.

          • John

            I agree. CAMP are tarnishing their image with these snide personal attacks.

          • Reality Check

            Yes- an apology is definitely in order here. An apology for the initial, very shocking emails from the CAMP artists would also be nice. Looks like Lydia very graciously reached out to the artists in hopes that they would want to be part of a creative effort to bridge the gap between “artists” and “techies”, “rich” and “poor”, “natives” and “transplants” and all of the things/labels/stereotypes that keep us from embracing each other in a community that we all share. Replying with such disgust and snobbery to her inquiry was very rude and uncalled for. It was their choice not to get involved, and that was respected. But there is a better way to respond to someone who is reaching out to you with admiration for what you do. And to now accuse her of using your art as spite or of siding with tech companies is just very sad. Have you even been following the recent stories published on ML that explore all of the complexities of the tech buses, gentrification, eviction, displacement, a changing landscape of Mission businesses, etc.? The bus design contest was one of the first efforts I’ve seen in the neighborhood to start breaking down the barriers that stand between us and start a public conversation (through art, no less! How awesome.) Too bad CAMP couldn’t see the value or opportunity for engagement with the public there. Surprising, since it seems that as artists who create public art, they would want to reach as many people as possible. Regardless of the copyright issues that have come up here, there’s the issue of respect. Everyone deserves it, and especially someone who has worked very hard to provide the community with a platform where stories are shared, people, places, art and history are celebrated and ideas are exchanged.

        • Mike

          Good idea.

        • pete

          That’s just uncalled for.

      • Lydia,
        You continue to not address the specific request by the artist to take down the image, and to chose another winner. This image is not owned by Google, it is owned by the artist. That you do not understand copyright law doesn’t make it OK.

        That you are running a website that is hosting a copyright image and willfully not respecting the artist’s very direct request to take it down is simply breathtaking in its lack of journalistic ethics, morals and integrity.

        I will be writing to Dean Edward Waserman of UC Berkeley to get his input onto this issue, since we are getting nowhere with you, a tenured professor of journalism.

        You have breeched trust in journalistic integrity. I am no expert on journalism or ethics, but a quick search on the Googles lists that journalists are to be accountable. That the scope of the use of the work is “beyond your knowledge” is not an excuse.

        Try this link to help school yourself on the matter:

        This isn’t about helping Jet’s career. This is about journalistic integrity.

      • Johnny on the Spot

        Lydia, your comment giving your excuses and explaining your side condemns the contest results all the more. If you had the winning entry for over two months, this shows that you had time to do the job of a journalist and investigate more about the image. Even though the Mission is the neighborhood you are reporting about, no one expects you to know everything about the area. Even something as iconic as Community Thrift, which you chose the image of because of it being a staple of the Mission, it is ok not know who painted the outside. But if you walk in front of the store, you can see Jet Martinez’s signature. Jet doesn’t need the exposure of Mission Local to help his art career. He is very talented and has made a great art carrier for himself. So the only conclusion is that you didn’t know the details of the neighborhood and image you are reporting on and made no effort to do some research. This sets a bad example for future journalism students.

  7. Tim12s

    Somebody really doesn’t need $500 and I’m pretty sure Elinor Diamond doesn’t.

    You’d have been better off supergluing 500 dollar bills onto a bus.

    • John

      How do you know the winner doesn’t need the $500?

      And why would that matter anyway? Should we be rewarding people who are poor rather than people who are talented?

      Perhaps you can see why you’d be unlikely to be chosen as a judge?

      • Tim12s

        Nicely framed argument – poor people are not talented? Or is it that only the rich are talented?

        Besides, this whole ‘competition’ is intellectually and morally bankrupt, so – ehh. A $50 Billion company offers $500 to, at the end of the day, basically post a Google Street View on its bus? Not bad for a company owned by Roche, who can afford to pay out $500 Million in fines for price-fixing.

        For a commercial artist this kind of work is worth about $10,000. For a frock designing hack, well, she got what the work’s worth, I guess.

        • John

          My comment was restricted to the observation that a particular artists should not be denied a cash prize just because she might be well off. This is competition, not welfare.

          Whether her art really was better or not is a highly subjective matter, and decent people can disagree. But I have no reason to believe that the judges were not competent.

  8. Kelly ording

    Wow, I cannot believe this. I used to love Mission Local! This is infuriating, sad and completely disrespectful of all the Clarion Alley mural artists, in particular, Jet Martinez (who painted Community Thrift). Mission Local contacted some the artists about this project and they all said they were NOT interested in working with Google to “decorate” these buses. Now, with Mission Local, they have chosen the work of an artist who has appropriated and used their work. So, without authorization or consent, their work is STILL featured. Shame shame shame! Is this legal?

  9. kelley

    this is TERRIBLE!! it looks like thievery. do the artists know their art is driving around on a google bus?? disgusting. please fix this!!!!!

    • Get real it’s a STINKING ALLY ….

    • pete

      It’s a Genentech bus, actually. And hasn’t yet been put on.

      • I took a BM in that ally and if is shown in the wrap of the google bus i will sue !

        • kelley

          seriously? don’t be lame, if you consider your bm your art and you don’t want someone else using it on the said of a bus, fine. I support you. don’t insult these artists by comparing your sh–t to their murals. also, congrats to ms. diamond for respecting the artists and withdrawing.

        • nutrisystem

          Kevin, I’m glad you are letting your inner artist come out.

          Your shits may indeed have merit as sculptures, and may even be better than some art work I’ve seen around town.

          A big part of Art is experimentation, and although the results of experiments are not always satisfying, they should be pushed out and examined anyway.

          Archival preservation of these turds would take you beyond ephemeral performance-art and into the realm of fine art sculpture… Perhaps they could be bronze-dipped, resin coated or even 3D scanned and reproduced en-masse at different scales by anyone with a 3D printer (that would probably even get you a write-up in the New York Times).

  10. Oof. Clarion Alley and Community Thrift are about the two least appropriate things you could put on one of these monstrosities. This contest, it’s $500 reward and everything that goes along with it is a digesting slap in the face to the artist community of the Mission and San Francisco.

  11. ariel

    that’s just wrong.

  12. missionnite

    Its disrespectful and deceitful. Artist were lured in to an unofficial contest by ML and then make it official.
    The irony of it is that these buses have increased rents by 20% in the area of their routes which are displacing many of these same artist.


    • John

      It’s just a contest. Lighten up. Jeez.

      • richardbaggins

        A contest the artists declined to be a part of, and explicitly so. Take a look at the links posted.

        • Fabrizio

          Am I missing something? I see no images from Clarion Alley. I don’t see even see the name Clarion Alley. I see a street view of a store and an alley. From reading the exchange I get the impression some artists were asked to participate and they said no. They didn’t. But just because they don’t like it, doesnt mean they are right and that ML could not or should not run the contest. Never do they say that ML could not post a photo of Valencia Street which includes a store they do not own. Whether on a bus or a website. I know narcissism is a big deal these days, but really Jet, do you really think the image was chosen because of your little faux pink facade?

          • John

            Yes, I fear they doth protesteth too much.

          • generic online nobody

            The alley you’re seeing IS Clarion Alley. The murals you can see in the photo are the work of the artists who refused to be a part of this contest.

          • Yes, the streetview image was obviously chosen from many possible along Valencia because it is the most visually striking because of Jet’s work and Chor Boogie and other Clarion Alley artists.

          • Stephanie Syjuco

            The editor says in the write-up of the contest that it was Clarion Alley and Community Thrift’s representation in the image that contributed to it’s winning status. The “Valencia Street entrance of Clarion Alley and the pink Community Thrift Store… underscores art and giving — both have deep roots in the Mission.” This is a very specific naming. To use these sites as a factor for winning and then to abruptly discount the opinions of those directly involved in the organizations represented seems very contradictory.

  13. Jet Martinez

    I feel like this is some sort of aikido publicity stunt because it is so twisted and disrespectful that it’s almost genius. My artwork is featured on nearly half if this so called design without my permission to use it. I specifically wrote a letter to your editor explaining why I thought this project was poison for local artists and that I would not be participating in this project. It’s shocking then to see my work from community thrift store emblazoned over nearly half of the bus. The fact that it’s a google street view capture may give you some legal cover but it most certainly does not hide your lack if ethics. I think you should definitely proceed with this image and I will definitely proceed to lawyer up. Any takers to look into this case for me?

    • Fabrizio

      This is a complex issue. On the one hand, using an image from Google Earth does, as one judge commented, raise all sorts of issues regarding the technology and its uses. On the other hand, the image used by the artist/designer was Community Thrift/Clarion Alley. Like you Jet, I hope if Google or some other tech monster goes with Google Earth motif, they use an image more reflective of the Mission. Sorry to say, I have never been a fan of the “putrid in pink” Community Thrift design. Megan Wilson suggested taking a paint can to it. I agree! Let me know when it happens. I may be old school, but I go with the Stones: “Paint It Black”

      • Stephanie

        Fabrizio, I don’t think it helps your point to insult someone’s artwork. It takes down the validity of your argument.

    • missionnite

      Check out Brook Oliver arts attorney in the mission

    • Rusty H

      We condemn corporations who don’t let us take and publish photos of their buildings citing copyright reasons, and now mural artists are claiming that they own all rights to reproductions of things viewable in public.

      Would everyone be just as up in arms if the design replaced the paint on Community Thrift/Clarion Alley with beige and grey?

    • Reyna Oro

      There’s a strong whiff of hypocrisy here. Somehow it’s “poison” for local artists to decorate tech buses but there’s pride in doing a mural for Facebook?


      I agree that it is some sort of “aikido publicity stunt” but I’d say it’s done the most to benefit you! Case in point, I’ve never heard of you until this controversy erupted (and by the way I like your art!).

      Then, I find out that you did a mural for Facebook and judging from all the news clips and photos, it appears you’re quite proud of it? (And you should be!)

  14. woeofgij

    This is disgusting. An appropriation of the Clarion Alley artists, shame on you and your pathetic excuse to glad hand to the techies.

    You are no better than the plutocrats destroying the planet, you could have at least used a consenting artist like Ulrika Andersson http://missionlocal.org/2013/12/another-bus-contest-entry-let-it-leak/

    or David Lawrence http://missionlocal.org/2013/12/bus-contest-entry-cattle-car-tech-bus/

    see you in hell.

  15. Elinor

    Hey there,

    I’m Elinor. I saw a contest and I had an idea so I entered. It was unofficial. I would have entered an unofficial pie eating contest as well. I live in the mission. I’m relatively happy. I went to art school and have relationships with a lot of artists whose work is displayed throughout the city. I saw and spoke with a lot them/you at the funeral of an artist, close friend, and mentor that many of us lost early last fall. I’m not an awesome person. I don’t eat babies for dinner. I’m probably going to buy my kids loads of ice cream and then I’ll probably buy a sandwich with the $. Technically the image belongs to Google (its a street view image) so maybe I’ll need more than $500… But that’s for me to worry about. How about this rain?! Finally!

    • backtotheburbs

      This sounds very flippant (or naive). You just needed the money for your kids ice cream? That does play well into the displacement and class war narrative …

      Perhaps if you had some story or rationale for your ‘art’ there could be some dialog …

      So far you are just advertising google street view and how they own the rights to their images, regardless of the ‘viewed’ content and content generators permission. The story with the clarion alley artists rejecting this content makes your choice particularly inflammatory. You weren’t able to take a photo yourself? Ah, the artists didn’t agree so you are hiding behind google? Good choice I guess …

      BTW, just so you know, people walking down clarion are known to be asked for donations by those artists … sucks to be them. But great to be you! Free ice cream!

      I also encourage ML to post an official tally of the judges votes.

      • John

        B2B, that’s precious and politically correct. It’s her $500 and she can spend it on what she wants. Trying to guilt her because, at least in your mind, these shuttles are envymobiles is crass.

        Can’t you just be happy for the winner?

    • Hey Elinor,
      Actually, that image technically belongs to Jet Martinez. That is his mural of Community Thrift. Sure, you grabbed it off of Google Street View; but it is still a copyright image.

      As an artist, it may behoove you to become a little more respectful of copyright law.

      A cease and desist should be sent to you and ML for these shenanigans.

    • missionnite

      If you had ethics you would withdraw. Don’t you have a clue whats happening in the Mission?

      • Yes its RAPIDLY IMPROVING….

        • Native

          People and busineses living in fear of losing their homes and life investment.
          Family and friends being separated, kids being pulled out of school, seniors being thrown out. Buses spewing emissions all over our neighborhhod, blocking bike lanes and muni……..crime is up. What planet do you live on?

          • John

            Or: less crime, less nuisance, noise and dumping, better restaurants and bars, more prosperity, cleaner streets, homes are better maintained.

            I see the cup half full and you see it half empty.

  16. Raul

    Seriously? Shame on you, Mission Local

  17. Richardbaggins

    Holy hell. I bet you work for mission local too. You seem to have a weird hard-on for jet also. Or, you could be just troll bait for more page views. Anywho, thanks for the 2 cents. Ill just get a screenshot, and rehost it.

  18. J-Flikka

    It’s sad that you had to co-opt the hard work and creativity of so many others for your little contest. Especially after they explicitly said they wanted no part of it and their work to not be used.

    Shame on you.

  19. wow

    Wow, cut and paste from Google Maps. Amazing!

  20. Wait… that’s a screen grab from Google Maps Street View. Not only is that amazingly lazy it’s also probably not a legal use of that image.


    • Andrew

      Uh…that’s the whole freaking point. Did you read the article?

    • Lydia Chavez Post author

      Yes Tuffy, many people found Duchamp’s ready mades lazy. The entry seemed to me ingenious and layered. It was not dependent on any one Street View, it was dependent on the idea of using Google Street view as art, as mirror as – in some who liked it – a critical comment on the pervasiveness of Google Earth. To be honest, I didn’t realize that Jet was responsible for the Community Thrift’s front. My ignorance. I don’t think it would have mattered. I liked the ethic that the store evokes and I didn’t think that the artist owned Google Street View, but hey, that would be between Google and Jet.
      The buses move through the Mission and different street views would trigger new conversations. But again, everyone has a point of view. Attacking art and artists is nothing new. I was happy to get as many entries as we did and I thought the vast majority ingenious in their own way.

      • John

        Nicely put. It reflects how everyone sees these buses as something different and, as we often see on these pages, how people see what they want to see. The entry has whimsy and cleverness.

        And yet, artists are entitled to be petulant. Isn’t that what drives their creativity? Or something like that.

        • david benzler

          wow, just WOW you guys.. are you serious???? The range of hostility coming from “reporters” from this so called info-site, is so amazing to me.. I’m personally good friends with most of the artists involved in Clarion, and have been an active participant for years.. I can’t believe this is actually happening..

          so let me get this straight:
          “artist” who went to SFAI, has a family, and lives in mission, while making frocks, uses “google earth” image,
          of a thrift store….A THRIFT STORE, that a certain percentage of proceeds go to charity from to then be placed on the side of a COMMUTER BUS that goes to where all the money’s at…. hmm, yea, that sounds really cool. Artistically really just amazing.. esp. the art on the buildings and in the alley… that’s great the rich like art, after all, it was reserved for the leisure class.. in the past..

          I’m also stoked me and all my failed Artists friends here have spent so many years in the mission sf/bay to enrich and beautify your lives.. thats awesome you guys care. way to celebrate the arts, and us. I mean, soon we’ll all be gone, and this devoid cultural wasteland will be entirely white and completely boring just like the rest of the US, so that’s cool too. Yea, Art aikido.. awesome.. really great to witness this glorious moment in history..

          Oh, and “JOHN” i too wonder what would happen if the issue being debated here wasn’t “SO” trivial.. Remember!!
          MOB RULES.. see ya at the rally!??

        • dj

          Wait, John– Do you not know about art or artists or something? Why were you even allowed to vote then?

      • Hi Lydia,
        Now you have been informed that the Community Thrift Mural is by Jet Martinez. It is his piece and is under copyright. He clearly did not wish to be a part of this contest.

        It’s called Cease and Desist. Pick another image that is not a blatant rip off. This is a commercial use of a copyright image and this is in no way, shape, or form, legal.

      • Jet martinez

        Lydia. I think the idea of a camoed bus is solid. But given the correspondence you had with myself and other artists inCAMP it feels like you selected this piece with a mean spirited
        Intent and now you are feeling the backlash and are trying to defend yourself but it just sounds awkward. I think you should retract this particular image and swap it for something that is not someone’s intellectual property and yet reflects the streets iof sf. I think this would be a good solution. I must repeat I Do not want my art to be involved in this project. I thought I was cool with mission local but I think that in this particular case you are steering it off course and not really looking out for the little people you claim to report about I would also like you to cease using images I have previously given you permission to use. Trust lost

        • Lydia Chavez Post author

          Jet: Great debate. I stand by the contest and our choice. I welcome continuing the conversation.

          • Lydia there is no more “debate”. You’ve taken a willfully disrespectful position on this issue. The artist is being clear: take it down.

          • Stephanie

            Please, Lydia, I really want the bridges that you spoke of to be made and the local community of artists not to be burned. I do not sense from you a willingness to talk of this outside of the decision-making process that you are standing by. There must be some room for discourse, out of respect for the very community that Mission Local purports to serve. The artist community is asking to not be alienated and I do not see a productive outcome by locking them out of their own invited dialogue.

          • Mike

            A very corporate, and non-responsive answer.

          • TJ

            By “corporate response” it seems to me you mean civil response. It’s kind of sad those kinds of responses are left to the corporations these days and civil debate amongst citizens (for and against whatever issue) can’t take place.

          • J-Flikka

            Lydia, can you please explain why you moved forward with this image, and even stick by it now, after you were specifically asked not to?

          • John

            J-Flikka, if I am walking along the street and I see you trying to take a photograph of me, I may ask you not to do that. but I cannot stop you from doing that.

            I do not have any reasonable expectation of privacy in a public place.

          • J-Flikka

            John, this has nothing to do with privacy at all. What irks me is that Lydia reached out to CAMP, they responded very clearly that they didn’t want their work involved in any way. Despite that, she went ahead. So what was the point of even asking them in the first place??

            I won’t go as far as others here have and call it “stealing”, and I can’t speak to the legal side, but if nothing else it’s diingenuous and a total dick move.

          • John

            The fact that CAMP did not want to participate does not mean that an image of their work cannot appear in any other piece of art if, as in this case, CAMP’s art is simply part of the streetscape and in plain public view, where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy or exclusivity.

            If they don’t want to share their art, they should keep it in a basement somewhere.

          • Native

            wow! You think this is a debate. You are hurting and insulting our community.

          • John

            Native, but not only is this a debate but also debate is really the primary purpose of having a comments section.

            It’s a healthy debate where both sides can make their case, and Lydia is correct to encourage that.

        • TJ

          Jet Martinez was an artist in residency at Facebook for two weeks when they commissioned him to paint them a mural.

          I’m curious to know if he took one of their busses to their offices. The people who signed his paycheck certainly did.

          It’s been mentioned elsewhere in the comments that lots of folks, including myself, would never have heard of Jet Martinez if not for Mission Local. So this is a little like a celebrity who bemoans their lack of anonymity.

          He made art for the public to see, and now, not only are way more people seeing it as a result of this post, but his art is creating important debate on issues like whether public art can in fact be owned, and the cultural, economic and demographic changes in the Mission as a result of tech. If Jet Martinez is a civic minded artist, I’d think he’d be thrilled.


          • John

            Heh. Self-absorbed, self-important “celebrities” often claim that there is no such thing as bad publicity.

            I fear Jet doth protest too much.

  21. Andrew

    Wow. What a group of self-righteous tools. First of all, this is not an actual photo of an actual bus. This is a concept.

    Secondly, this is not a “glad hand” to the techies. It’s an attempt to put something thought-provoking and aesthetically pleasing on the side of an otherwise big white bus that’s going to continue driving through our neighborhood no matter what we do. If nothing else, it’d remind people in Noe Valley and Pac Heights and the Marina (where these buses also run) that the Mission is the true beating heart of SF.

    Thirdly, how many of you douchebags who think this is “disgusting” or “disrespectful” would say the same thing about Paul’s Boutique or any other piece of music that appropriated someone else’s art (including protest art) to create something new and jarring, while funneling money to three rich white kids and EMI Records, Inc.???

    True artists understand that an artist’s work is never entirely his own; it also belongs to his audience. Re-appropriation of art is inevitable and wonderful. Art begets art. Depending on the beholder, this piece of art is every bit as subversive and innocuous and beautiful and hideous and polarizing and banal as anything any other artist has ever created. A giant booger wiped on the side of this bus would be no better or worse.

    Lastly, how can you continue to malign the “techies” while using the technology they’ve created to have this discussion!? If you really want to protest the techies, get the fuck offline. And if you want to get rich yourself, stop thinking about who you should sue, and start learning how to write code.

    • John

      I agree, Andrew, I am stunned by the sour grapes and jealousy that is being dumped on the winner and on ML.

      The rest of the nation laughs at SF because we are perceived as a bunch of tribal, self-absorbed Peter Pan’s and this self-pity party of failed artists and losing entries fits right into that stereotype.

      Bunch of whiners. It’s how you behave in defeat that defines character and i am not seeing much here.

      • Stephanie

        Also, have you really read what happened according to the email correspondence link? The artists who are upset did not “fail” in their attempt to enter the contest. They wanted NOTHING TO DO with it and explicitly stated that to the editor months ago. Please stop your name-calling, it lowers the ability of your comments to sound lucid.

        • John

          Who cares if those artists didn’t want to enter the contest? They are free to not enter or not, but they are not free to whine that a piece of their art that they left in a public place is represented in an image of that public place.

          They are getting free publicity. What is that worth?

    • Stephanie

      In my understanding, the “techies” you refer to are not responsible for the entire internet in general, which was sort of invented quite a while ago, so it should be OK to stay online and keep using it as a means of communication. To take issue with what is happening with local politics in San Francisco is not to want to become a Luddite. No one who is critiquing this said they wanted to become rich, so they don’t have to go back to school to learn to code. Your last paragraph makes some wild leaps of logic as to what people are upset about.

      • Andrew

        I agree with you Stephanie. I’m mystified that people are directing their anger at the buses, the tech companies, the “techies” or — most bizarrely of all — this artist, when they *should* be directing their anger at their government for failing to ensure stagnation in the local economy, or at Mother Nature for creating such a desirable place to live.

        Do you use Twitter? Do you use Yahoo email? Do you use Google Maps? Do you use an iPhone or an Android phone? If so, you should reconsider your anger at the “techies.”

        And my comment about getting rich was purely directed at those threatening to sue over this silliness.

        • Stephanie

          I feel like you are saying the equivalent of “America, love it or leave it,” only replacing it with gadget particulars. I stand by my view that one does not have to wholeheartedly prescribe to a place’s politics or powers-that-be in order to love it, critique it, and keep building on it to better reflect its constituents.

        • Andrew, that’s a total false dichotomy. One shouldn’t have to be a luddite to be critical of tech companies policies.

          • Missionite

            I don’t see anyone being “critical of tech companies (sic) policies.” I only see people spouting invective against techies, ML, Lydia Chavez and other innocents.

    • Mike

      “If you really want to protest the techies, get the fuck offline.”

      LOL. Well that’s a bit extreme and simplistic. It’s very black and white thinking. One should not get offline; the internet is a very good thing. What people should be getting off of is not the internet, but rather these addictive gadgets, useless apps and “social media networks.” There’s nothing “social” about typing with one’s thumbs on a gadget squinting at a small screen in one’s hand. The techies are making money off of gadgets and apps. And as long as no one clicks on the Google ads on this site, no money is made there for Google.

      The issue is gentrification and evictions. These tech employees shoving out the poor and making the cost of living in San Francisco extremely high.

      • Mike

        I had also meant to say this. Someone said yesterday that the tech companies in SF have never done better, or something to that effect. Twitter is one of the major ones receiving corporate welfare from the city:

        Twitter reports $645m loss for 2013


        Shares in Twitter plummet after user growth slows

      • Andrew

        Talk about simplistic, black-and-white thinking! Sure, some “techies” are making frivolous stuff…but many of the people on those buses are building things of immense value to the world. The fact is, the Internet that you describe as a “very good thing” simply would not exist without those companies. They make a helluva lot more than the “apps and gadgets” you so readily dismiss, and you know it.

        I’m not endorsing gentrification or evictions, but for chrissake, the tech employees are not “shoving out the poor.” They’re simply choosing to live in a highly desirable city near their workplace. That’s their prerogative in a free society. If you want to stop gentrification and evictions, you can either run for office and try to change public policy, or you can work to make San Francisco LESS desirable. Take a dump on a sidewalk or something. But don’t attack innocent, hard-working people.

        • nutrisystem

          The main utility of the internet (e.g. search, email, blogs, maps) was built long ago by a small number of people.

          What’s happening now at the “campuses” those buses go to is the construction of a candy-coated, for-profit Big Brother.

          The server farms of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Apple etc. each constitute an OMNIPRESENCE with permanent , instantaneous and infallible memory, which may indeed be “of immense value to the world”…. but maybe not in a good way.

          • Andrew

            Well, that’s just crazy talk. Do you really want to go back to using the Internet (and especially the maps!) “built long ago by a small number of people?” You think there’s been no new utility since then? Gimme a break.

            What disparaging things would you say of the “techies” at Kiva or Kickstarter? What do you make of the role of Twitter in facilitating the Arab Spring? What about the 150+ lives saved after the Haiti earthquake thanks entirely to Google’s person finder?

          • nutrisystem

            Seriously? You’re using the “Arab Spring” as an example of how Web 2.0 is making the world a better place? Egypt and Syria are bloodbaths, with Libya and Tunisia not far behind.

            And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the counterrevolution in Egypt (the army) is using social media data to find, arrest and torture their political opponents.

            In the early days of the Arab Spring there was nonstop rejoicing in the US media about Twitter facilitating these uprisings. Now, a couple of years later, those nations are in a hideous state of anarchy, and we don’t hear that anymore!

          • John

            Using the internet to criticize the internet is a fascinating exercize in cognitive dissonance.

            Why don’t you protest Google, Twitter etc. by, say, not using them?

          • nutrisystem

            Twitter played a key role in the trashing of 4 countries, so Ed Lee gave them a tax break.

            They need a feel-good art thingy.

  22. SamDodge

    Really?!?! Shame on you Misson Local. Clearly you are stealing the artwork of the muralist who created those designs, namely Jet Martinez, and you KNEW that. It’s gross that you would do this in the first place, but to do it with intent? This is not about Elinor, this is about Lydia. You need to rethink this, Lydia.

    • Andrew

      Whoa. That is an astonishingly ignorant accusation. This isn’t even remotely “stealing” and even the sleaziest lawyer would find this whole discussion hilarious. And without a doubt, Lydia’s is the sanest, most articulate and most inclusive voice in this discussion.

    • Rusty H

      Google “Derivative Works” and “Fair Use”. This is far more complex than you’re implying.

      • Creative Commons

        Now you want me to use Google to learn about copyright law? Does that seem a tad hypocritical to you? Frankly I already know all about the ways in which selfish artists try to prevent other artists from using their ideas to create other ideas, and there’s simply no case here.

        Anyway, maybe if enough San Franciscans can band together to form a giant mass of morons of such staggering lameness that the techies would sooner live in Oakland than here, then the beloved Mission will remain a crime-ridden, shit-strewn refuge for addicts and hipsters getting their various fixes in doorways of vacant storefronts. Yay!!! Maybe I’ll even move away myself after supporting this community for the last 10 years.

      • Missionite

        Now you’re asking us to use Google to learn why we should hate Google? As John has pointed out, your cognitive dissonance is striking.

        Anyway, if you really understand Fair Use, you know that this is *clearly* Fair Use. If someone actually painted it on the side of a bus, that might be another story. But so far, there’s no case here.

  23. ThatGuy

    This goddam site has officially pissed off everyone in the Mission! Lol

  24. nutrisystem

    Dear Lydia and Mission Local Staff,

    I think there is a lot of confusion as to what this really means. Please clear up a few things for the readers…

    Is an actual bus-owning company involved at all in this process? Or is this contest entirely by and for Mission Local just for kicks?

    Is the $500 prize coming from Mission Local or a tech company?

    Is it likely that this image be placed on one or more buses?

    Also, your simulated image of the painted bus looks so realistic (nice work) that many people believe this really exists.

  25. Stephanie

    Judgements on what is “good art” or “bad art” — and if Mission Local has chosen from either of these categories — is besides the point here. These are red herring questions. The angry responses to the final winning entry are coming from artists who have inadvertently found depictions of their work emblazoned on a proposal for a tech bus. Over two months ago these very same artists had had explicit email conversations with Mission Local editor Lydia Chavez voicing their objections to participate and refused to submit to the contest, feeling so strongly about it that they called for it’s retraction as a contest (read the link to the email correspondence via Megan Wilson). When today’s winner was announced, the artists had no idea that images that used their works had been chosen by Elinor Diamond. The artists affiliated with Clarion Alley Mural Project and Community Thrift (Megan Wilson, John Jota Leanos, Jet Martinez, and Rigo23) are not expressing “sour grapes” or jealousy over the winning entry. They simply don’t want their organization and the images that they are responsible for producing to appear to be advocating or endorsing either the contest or the notion that they have collaborated with a corporation. These are respected artists and community members and they are shocked and upset to have been drawn into this.

    Anger at Elinor Diamond, and any attacks on her submission as being “bad art” is totally missplaced. She is being straightforward in her intentions for the work and has said so. Personal attacks and harsh judgement is being lobbed on her unfairly. The real finger should be pointed at Mission Local for attempting to hide behind a smokescreen of the problem being “between Google and Jet” instead of realizing that by choosing to be a journalism platform that purports to represent the Mission community, they are evidencing a stark naivete about what is angering artists who have spent decades investing in the neighborhood and an insensitivity to long-time members of the community — the very creative constituents they sought to reach out to and build bridges with this contest. I am deeply saddened by this chain of events because it feels ML has created more alienation than ever.

  26. Lonesomebri

    So using a picture from Google maps makes someone an artist? Hilarious. These techie lovers have got as big of ego as those they worship. And then they play all innocent, what, the buses have helped destroy the Mission? Artist…hilarious.

  27. Kaliman

    Mission Local has created a controversial contest and ML will have to own that.

    If the bus was to ever be cloaked by the controversial image, it will just be a lightning rod if it ever rolled in the the Mission. Guaranteed!!

    So, cloak it and park it forever in dark alley in Silicon Valley!!

  28. Wow. This coming Monday my Art 433 Community Mural Painting, History & Technology class at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan will be discussing this issue and its political contradictions. This past Monday we looked at S.F. murals ’70s-’90s (inc. my own ’80s ones) and Jacoby’s 2009 book on Mission street art. Too bad Elinor obviously didn’t know of the long history of corporations using community mural images thoughtlessly. Nor the way the buses now symbolize gentrification pushing long-time residents out of the area.

    • Stephanie

      I would love to hear the outcome of this class discussion Mike, especially in light of the research done on the history you are citing. Please share any resources as you find them.

  29. Reality Check

    Let’s remember that the art that appears on the thrift store and in Clarion Alley is PUBLIC ART. It is meant to be seen, talked about and enjoyed by a wide range of people who happen to stumble upon it or seek it out, and who might not ever be exposed to it if it only appeared in an art gallery or museum. It is art on a building, on a street, in a public space. There is no guard charging admission to see it or photograph it. It is included in a Google Street View of the block because it is on the street!! It is ridiculous for the artists who painted the thrift store and the Clarion Alley murals to think that any artwork has been “stolen” or “used” here, or that they have been disrespected by Mission Local in any way. Mission Local (and the winning designer) have not “ripped off” any art from any of these artists. These artists chose not to submit designs of their own to the contest, and their decisions were respected. Some of the comments here make it sound as if the winning designer and ML went ahead and stole/published their work after the artists told them not to. Didn’t they create these murals for the public to enjoy? Maybe their work would be better suited for the white walls of a gallery if they are seeking specific representation and such control? Isn’t public art about making art that is easily accessible to all? It would be cause for concern if the winning entry had plastered the bus with a design directly copied from one of these artists. The winning design is simply a street view of a street in the Mission that happens to feature a lot of public art (which coincidentally, and unintentionally, contains work by some of the artists who are upset.) Like the winning designer mentions in her comment, she uses a Google Street View in her design, and this is something she would have to discuss with Google (not the artists, as they do not own Google Street View) IF, and only if one of the tech companies agreed to hire her to use her design on one of their buses (for those who have not yet realized or read the contest rules or FAQ’s, this is not an actual bus, and the winning design is not guaranteed a spot on one of the actual buses.) Among other things, the design draws attention to the neighborhood’s long and important history of murals. Rather than complaining that their PUBLIC ART is at the center of meaningful conversations (by a diverse group of people) about the past, present and future of our neighborhood and its art and culture, let’s be grateful to ML for providing such a creative and engaging platform. Let’s use this opportunity to talk about how we can coexist peacefully. It begins by not accusing people of stealing what is not ours to begin with, but by sharing each other’s gifts in hopes of creating a better future together. Let’s open our eyes, minds and hearts.

    • nutrisystem

      It’s not such a simple legal question.

      Let’s say somebody photographs you on a public sidewalk.

      Could he than use your face without permission in his Hair Club for Men TV commercial?

      • A lawyer

        Dear nutrisystem,

        As a representative of the Nutrisystem corporation, I am writing to inform you that you are in violation of our trademark, and I hereby I demand that you immediately cease and desist all activities using the name nutrisystem. Your posts display a flagrant disregard for the clearly-stated desires of the Nutrisytem company and our advertising agency.

        If you fail to remove your posts within 24 hours, I will have no choice but to initiate legal action against you.

        Oh…wait…no…I see. You’re just some random guy using the name nutrisystem as a sort of jokey alias. You mean no harm, and you’re not trying to make any money by appropriating our brand identity, and you’re not using it slanderously. Oh, OK. Sorry. Go ahead.

    • Public art does not mean it is public domain.

      There have been cases where artists who made public art sued and won damages because it is still under copyright


    • Stephanie

      There is a lot to parse out in what people are citing as public vs. private. It shifts depending on context and I would suggest people don’t assume that everything found within “public” space is indeed up for grabs. Also, there is a difference between what is legal and what is, in my opinion, ethical. http://nypost.com/2011/11/30/fiat-settles-claim-with-bronx-graffiti-artists-over-j-lo-ad/

    • Actually public murals are copyrighted – though the issue with pursuing action is legal fees. But, if murals are registered with the U.S. Copyright Office – which Clarion Alley Mural Project’s (CAMP) are – then legal fees are guaranteed.

      CAMP is happy to share our work with folks for non-commercial purposes – it is public. However we do have an attorney and we pursue those who use our murals for commercial, for-profit endeavors.

      • Missionite

        “…we do have an attorney and we pursue those who use our murals for commercial, for-profit endeavors.”

        — which, very clearly, this is not. How could this be construed as a commerical, for-profit endeavor? This is a freaking art project. You’re so far off-base and paranoid — and disrespectful of other artists — it’s simply incredible.

        (Also, the fact that the murals are barely visible in this photo should make your attorney giggle before walking away, shaking his/her head at your pettiness.)

        • Missionite – CAMP has never claimed in any of these discussion threads regarding this contest that we are going to take legal action.

          We posted this explanation of copyright only to convey to the many folks here who don’t understand it, that this is in fact the law and in cases in which CAMP does find merit of infringement, we do take action.

  30. Jonathan

    Seriously tone deaf on the part of Mission Local and even more so from the artist. This is in all likelihood a violation of artist copyright. Multiple cases in case law and in recent settlements on similar issues. Seriously though — that issue aside, pretty shockingly disrespectful to the artists. They have worked hard to be part of a great history of Mission muralism and the community and deserve better. Elinor, I’m sure you are a talented artist, I’d urge you to retract your piece that relies on the work of people who believe this project is bad for the Mission.

    • nutrisystem

      On a positive note, it’s sufficiently murky to generate abundant legal fees, and that’s good for the GNP.

  31. Jonathan Checking Reality Checks

    Reality Check. I know it seems like that is what ‘PUBLIC ART’ is, but you are misinformed.

    Branding a Genentech bus with Mission murals is nothing to be grateful for.

    • Reality Check

      Jonathan Checking Reality Checks: I know it seems like that is what “branding a Genentech bus with Mission murals is,” but you are misinformed. Maybe you missed the point of the contest, the part about why the winning design was chosen, and the willingness of Genentech (and possibly others) to hire local artists to help bridge the gap between the people who ride these anonymous buses and the community.Nothing to do with branding.

      • John

        Yes, it seems that some factions resent tech and so tech, even though they could ignore that, actually try reaching out to those factions to mend fences through art and dialog

        And those factions then get all frumpy and sulky and don’t want to play. Which makes them look like the problem here, and not the companies who hire Mission residents.

  32. mikahala

    Shame, and poor judgement on behalf of Mission Local for awarding the pittance called a prize for appropriated artwork of artists who explicitly denied offers to be involved with the project when courted. And, further, for not understanding the social implications of this image on this bus.

  33. phil ross

    The laws that support copyright, artists’ rights, and creative rights(stronger here in California than most other places in the US) will most likely see this as unfair usage of the artwork in Clarion Alley, particularly if there is a record of them NOT agreeing to permissions for reproduction by another party. It does not make it OK to reproduce it because it appears on StreetView. Lawyer up ML, because there is a good case against you if you pursue this.

    • Missionite

      Good lord, what exactly do you people think ML is trying to “pursue?” This is a freakin’ blog post, not a business proposal. The bus bearing this image does not exist, and almost certainly never will. The only thing ML wanted to do is foster a rich exchange of ideas. Mission accomplished.

      By the way, I just checked out Jet’s website and his work is fantastic. He’s obviously a very talented artist. However, I’d never heard of him until this contest hubbub began, and I bet many of the other commenters are just learning about him now too. So…regardless of your political beliefs or your taste in art, you have to acknowledge that moments like this are good for art and good for artists.

      • Stephanie

        According to Mission Local’s post, they will support the winning entry as much as possible towards actually being put on tech buses. So the idea of it being a conjecture or fiction could change at any moment.

      • phil ross

        “You people” thinks that the law is pretty clear about “what is good for art and good for artists”, opinions about exposure to audience will not change legal opinions.

      • Stephanie Syjuco

        It’s an assumption that artists want this type of headache as “exposure.” There are way more other things to spend time on, and this, unfortunately, shouldn’t be one of them.

        • Justin

          Phil and Steph, I agree with the issue of ML failing to provide the voice of enlightened journalism and instead falling into this pit of confusion, but in court there are questions that I don’t think would support the defense of the muralists, upsetting as that idea may be.

          Can you digitally reproduce the heart of something? Does google street view reproduce the essence of graffiti art in a virtual world? If we recreated Clarion alley in Second life would the artists get royalties on any money exchanged in its production?

          Regarding IPR I think that in a court it would be successfully argued that the image proposed by Diamond was free and fair use because it does not try to “supersede the object” (the original Jet Martinez mural or any of those in Clarion) for reasons of personal profit. Furthermore, it is recontextualized and only a portion of the work was reproduced as opposed to the entirety. More importantly, the spirit of the original isn’t what is being reproduced either. Lastly in copyright law, this reproduction makes zero impact on the value of the original piece or the career of Jet. Essentially, this work is about the medium of the digital today. It is not the artist shooting photos of Jet’s mural and reproducing his work on the bus in an attempt to reproduce the presence, allure and dignity that his work bestows upon the Mission (like all the work of CAMP), but rather to expose a point of view of uncompassionate superficiality brought by new peoples in an old place.

          But the IPR isn’t important as I don’t see any lawsuits on the horizon. What is important is the question of if the medium is the message. I never like to quote McLuhan, but in this case it’s appropriate. The medium is not to produce camouflage, in the sense of actually hiding or fitting in, but rather to decorate the bus with the way that the tech community unfortunately perceives the mission: as a surface easily reproduced and valued at nothing more than a digital overlay. Like a Photoshop file with it’s many layers, the new influx of wealth doesn’t see the history of struggle and oppression, the liberation and exhalation, celebration and struggle that is deep in the bones of the mission and instead sees it only as one would in Google street view – as surface. It is as though the Mission to this contemporary influx isn’t experienced first hand but via a mediated google-glass perspective. In this way this choice of medium I believe is a brilliant decision by Diamond. She just says that this bus is wrapped in a REPRESENTATION OF THE CITY AS SEEN IN THE EYES OF GOOGLE. It is simulacra not camouflage. In this way it is acting like a mirror and reflecting the superficiality by which tech companies unfortunately view our community.

          I think we all are now affected by “Silicosis” as Stephanie Syjuco has so nicely coined today. Below is the link to google’s legal page where it outlines the law around use of these images. I think its egregious, and unfortunate that the winning selection happened to use an image of work by someone who explicitly asked to be left out of the project, but then again it’s not really using his work, but a cheap simulacra representation of it and that is why it is bothersome; because the Mission is becoming a digitized copy of an original.

          Lastly, @Rigo23, if the tech people offered me $50,000 to design decorations of their fleet, I would take it and see what I could get away with. But, I’d get the cash up front and only propose wild ideas until they fired me.

          On Fair Use: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use#Purpose_and_character

          On legal use of Google Maps in reproduction: http://www.google.com/help/legalnotices_maps.html

    • Actually public murals are copyrighted – though the issue with pursuing action is legal fees. But, if murals are registered with the U.S. Copyright Office – which Clarion Alley Mural Project’s (CAMP) are – then legal fees are guaranteed.

      CAMP is happy to share our work with folks for non-commercial purposes – it is public. However we do have an attorney and we pursue those who use our murals for commercial, for-profit endeavors.

      • John

        So if I wanted to paint the San Francisco skyline, and the architect of the Pyramid said that I could not represent his work in any art, then according to you I’d have to remove the Pyramid from my image?

        And instead show something that isn’t there? You think art is about dishonesty and misrepresentation, rather than reality?

  34. Lupe A

    Dear Mission Local,

    Mission Local approving the “winning” graphic for this contest knowing that the Jet, the artist who painted the murals in that graphic, refused to have his images used for that purpose is unacceptable and disappointing. Lydia’s response the artists in the publicized email exchange and in this forum have been condescending and haughty, implying that if we could see the art in this project, if we were as enlightened as you, we would see that this is harmless and all about making something that is functional into something beautiful.

    I hope Mission Local is present enough to know that it is not just about art. This is about San Francisco being irreparably changed by highly paid workers who pay top dollar for housing, regardless that people with established communities and networks already live there. This is about a fleet of unregulated buses breaking the law every day catering to these workers while not willingly paying their fare share, while the rest of us pay $80 a month and wait twice as long for a crowded bus. This is about San Francisco becoming a City where if you don’t earn at least $70,000 a year, the City does not care where or how you live. Tech buses are a symptom of something much bigger, but they are a clear visual of the type of preference and privilege being given to people with lots of money, while the rest of us get shafted.

    Slapping some art on the buses to make them more “palatable” does nothing to address the real problem of displacement and class privilege. The real kick in the ovaries is that you chose the image of Community Thrift and Clarion Alley, landmarks that represent the San Francisco culture drawing these highly paid workers here. It is also the San Francisco that is being ripped from every person that is evicted because their apartment is close to a tech bus stop or because of an Ellis Act speculator. It is the San Francisco that we are loosing because of the high rents shutting down small businesses and evicting residents, rents egged on by the high priced workers riding these buses rolling down the street, with tinted windows, now wrapped in images of the community they are not willing to engage.

    People calling you out are not whiners, or sour grapes, or party poopers who don’t know art when they see it. We are people who don’t appreciate images of our community being co-opted for the purpose of dressing up unregulated privilege.

    Thank you.

    • ld

      Dear Lupe, thank you for writing this. I’m imagining you shouting it through a megaphone as you stand atop a blockaded double-decker google bus wrapped in appropriated Mission history. As you hit the last nail on the head, we’ll have peeled off the layers that can only be claimed by the people and communities that made them.

      please keep writing & speaking publicly.
      much respect,

    • Mike

      Right-on! Thank you for telling it like it is. Gracias.

    • Native

      Perfectly said. What part of this don’t they get?

  35. Mike

    Isn’t this contest illegal because the “choices” that Lydia Chávez says she stands by have been based on copyright violations/infringement? It seems to me that alone would void the contest. Copyright law violations are very serious and the copyright laws have become even more stringent in recent years in the US. Google Street View is copyright protected. It’s not in the Public Domain, so one must get permission from Google to use any images from it anywhere. Even if an artist failed to get permission from Google, the website is responsible and required to get permission from Google in order to use it on their site.

    Having run a website in the past, I can’t conceive of using the work of any artists without their expressed, written permission. And if they gave me said permission and did not like the outcome/results of how their work was used and asked me to remove their work, I would gladly do so immediately. In other words, It sounds like to me that MissionLocal does not understand copyright law. How can one run a website and not know basic copyright laws? That’s incredible. I also would not write this non-responsive corporate BS to an artist who has asked their work to be removed:

    “Jet: Great debate. I stand by the contest and our choice. I welcome continuing the conversation.”—-Lydia Chávez

    So this is all about “debating” and “continuing the conversation?” The artist asked you to remove his work and he added, “Trust Lost.” Considering copyright laws have been violated, I think there’s much more to it than “debating” and “conversation.”

    This site seems to be losing itself (or changing) and becoming corporate—it’s time someone said that—as opposed to being for the average person the site pretends to serve en el Distrito de la Misión. For example, do you not realize you are helping corporate Google make even more money with the Google ads on this site? Why would this site want to help Google make any money which only promotes continued gentrification and evictions. Why would this site want to have anything to do with Google? I don’t even use their search engine anymore. I use DuckDuckGo (search anonymously.) This is the message I get from MissionLocal: “We write about the corporate tech shuttles, but we hope you click on the corporate Google ads to help make more money for corporate Google (they already have billion$) and a little for us.”

    • John

      If an artist chooses to put his art in a public place, then it becomes part of the streetscape. If another artist then wishes to represent that streetscape, then it would be dishonest to somehow edit out that art or any other part of the vista.

      If I paint the outside of my house purple and then an artist paints my street including my purple exterior, I cannot reasonably complain that my house is represented.

      If I really do not wish to have my art represented in that way, I should make the work private. And if I decline to enter a contest, I cannot later reasonably whine that an image of my public art appears in another entry which is representing the streetscape that I freely chose to place my image for public consumption.

      • Lupe


        Again, this is not about people whining about not entering a contest, or the prize money. It is about Mission Local choosing to help camouflage symbols of gentrification with images of the very community it is displacing.

        Comparing your hypothetical purple house to a work of art that someone made for public consumption, not for private use by Genentech buses or any other forum, I think tries to devalue the work of the artist. What if it was one of Juana Alicia’s murals, or the murals at the Women’s Building? Would we still be having the same conversation?

        I understand that people are coming down hard on Mission Local. People trust Mission Local to cover the news and to provide a balanced view. That trust is damaged when Mission Local agrees to participate in window dressing a prominent symbol of problems faced by the community it is reporting on. Dismissing that as whining or sour grapes does nothing to repair that trust.

        Thank you

        • John

          Not everyone on the community see commuter buses as “symbols of gentrification”. Some of us see them as symbols of success and prosperity.

          ML must appeal to all of our community and not just one political faction and ideological viewpoint.

          Your comments aren’t really criticizing the winning entry. They are criticizing ML for holding the contest at all. you think ML should be advocates for a controversial political end, rather than acting as a servant of the community reflecting all of it’s diverse views.

      • Mike

        “If an artist chooses to put his art in a public place, then it becomes part of the streetscape.”

        Not according to copyright law. It’s still copyright protected. Any image placed anywhere is automatically copyright protected, even if the author does not officially/legally file for copyright protection.

        Some murals even have the copyright symbol on them at the bottom just for extra copyright protection. About 3 years ago I tried to use a streetscape image of a mural on my website. I contacted the artists for permission and they said “No, sorry.” They didn’t want it used on any websites.

        And the same goes for female artists, since you referred to “his art.” His/her would be better gender-neutral language.

  36. BIllNores

    Hey Mission Local, how about you post a gallery of all the entries? And let the people who allow you to exist from your advertising see others ideas about the contest.

    In short, you have no real vested interest in this community or your readers…and it shows again and again.

    • John

      The entries have all been shown on ML before. Do a little research.

      The contest was not a democracy. The judges were carefully chosen and they did their job as well as they could. The fact that you personally may prefer some other entry is irrelevant.

      You speak for yourself and not for all ML readers. But in the end this is a lousy $500 and doesn’t matter. Move on.

    • Lydia Chavez Post author

      Bill the entries are all here. http://missionlocal.org/techbusesmovingmurals/
      This link is on the home page, right below the search bar. It has been there for more than a month and we have been posting the entries since November. Hope this helps, best, Lydia

  37. starcrossedtechiehipster

    The final prize should have been an affordable apartment.

  38. Nick

    I’m sorry, but this is all so out of hand.

    I absolutely share many of the artists’ frustrations (being an artist in San Francisco, myself, but of a far less profitable type,) however they are coming off as uncompromising, belligerent, and disrespectful themselves. Cursing, typing in all caps, foaming at the mouth… I think it’s a horrible way to try and show somebody that what he or she did is potentially harmful to the community. I don’t like the art contest much, but that’s because it doesn’t matter in the scheme of things. Things that I don’t really care for (of which there are many) I don’t often come back to or read about.

    The more I read the email exchanges the more I sympathize with Mission Local, not the artists one bit. I can see how the tech people look down at us and consider us less intelligent and not worth living with… we respond so desperately, violently, and disproportionally, and those with voices see it as a strength to their cause. They have the power to force us all out with their money… and why wouldn’t they? We have no means to stop them, and they really really dislike us. They might even hate us almost as much as “we hate them,” which is unprecedented in social movements which preached love and compromise. Other social (race, gender) causes had a sense of seriousness and defense of rights, not an offense, looking for fights. People have bad ideas, so be it, but roasting folks who aren’t even the enemy and feeling good about it is a bit shameful.

    I moved to San Francisco for the art, and being an artist myself am of course not able to live in the hip communities like the mission. I have to take buses to the mission to see it and participate in it. I spend time admiring what folks have accomplished and then commute all the way back home to the non-hip neighborhood that I live in. Then the artists do this (not all, of course, just a vocal few) and it makes me wonder… is it worth struggling to stay in San Francisco to be around people who are so cruel to others?

    Social justice movements are based on love, compromise, and humanity. Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta were being bullied, and how did they respond? They responded with tough love. They defended rights and told others to join them. They took insults and responded with dignity. It is really difficult for me to imagine them ever victimizing a journalist (who should be your best friend in a movement, by the way) and looking for fights on little things that do not matter at all.

    Tech companies are bullying us, and they will always be better at it than we are to them. Bullying is the surest way to expedite the process, and those of us with less prominent voices are along for the dangerous ride the rest of you in the art community are taking us on.

    It’s true, soon I won’t even be able to live in the uncool neighborhoods, and you prominent artists won’t be able to live even in the cool ones, and I don’t see a reason for it to stop.

    The point of art is to humanize, not capitalize. Don’t pretend that we as artists provide a service that everybody should be ashamed should they not be grateful for it. Art isn’t an end, it’s a mean. It’s a symbol of what it means to be a human, and right now this is all very un-human.

    Lydia has come off as nothing but a super professional, as far as I can tell, who was unfortunate enough to have to deal with this. The winner of the contest submitted to a stupid contest worth $500, and spent a couple minutes making an entry. Who cares? Why does it matter? People get paid to write music for stupid things that I don’t get to all the time. It’s such a little deal it is ridiculous.

    Do you know who can help? The government, with of course the pressure from the media. Make them stop dragging their feet to tax businesses that make money (why Twitter pays less taxes than me I have no idea). Tell them to charge buses more than $1 a day to use stops.

    Stop criminalizing the media, and stop criminalizing the locals who are necessary for enjoying your art. It makes others, like me, not sympathize with your cause one bit. Thank you, Megan, for posting the whole email exchange. If you had not done that then for a minute I may have thought that ML was actually being mean, but thankfully you did the unethical thing that they were bound not to do, and it was very helpful in making me realize who is truly uncompromising here.

    • Mike

      “Lydia has come off as nothing but a super professional”

      A super professional what?

      One word is missing there.

      The word: Corporatist. That goes at the very end.

      There’s nothing “mission local” about corporatist and corporatism. Corporatists and corporatism are in the Financial District.

      She/They really should change the name of this site to what their real intentions are and proceed on to shill for tech companies and the continued gentrification/evictions. Stop pretending to be something you’re not.

      • John

        Wrong, Mike, there is nothing about ML that is either for or against big business. It’s a news site and it’s job is to report the news in a broad and objective way. and not to pick one side of a battle and pretend the other side doesn’t exist.

        Many residents of the Mission are employed by corporations and the money their earn gets spent here on non-corporate businesses.

        Try an open mind. ML does.

  39. The real point for Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP) and the artists involved here is one of respect – on a number of levels:

    1) Several artists from CAMP were engaged in an exchange with Mission Local’s Editor-In-Chief Lydia Chavez during the initial promotion of this contest (see http://meganwilson.com/sub/san-franciscos-mission-local-disrespects-the-wishes-of-artists-clarion-alley-mural-project). Each of us (three are core organizers for CAMP) expressed our desire to not be included in any way in this contest and articulated why we do not support it – additionally one of the artists (Jet Martinez) was the one who painted Community Thrift. Therefore, the selected entry really seems like the choice was based on spite and retaliation for that expression; and

    2) If the idea here is to build community, then the process was anything but that, and rather more about creating greater divides since neither Clarion Alley Mural Project or Community Thrift were approached to weigh in on the winning selection and it was already known that we were opposed to the contest in general. That’s not about community or respect – it’s more about contemporary colonialism and the elite caste system that these private transportation services have created – now, also reflected in Mission Local’s contest and process for selection.

    • John

      That building is part of the street. The fact that you painted it does not mean that you own it, or the sole rights to represent it.

      It would have been better if you had entered the contest in good faith rather than politicizing it. But given that you willingly gave up that opportunity, then on what reasonable basis can you now complain.

      You should be flattered, insofar as your murals were a factor in the winning entry being seen as successful. It was a very good entry and it is petty to accuse ML of choosing that entry out of “spite”. The only spite that I am seeing here is from CAMP. Lighten up – it’s only a contest and only $500.

      • John,
        Do you spend your entire day/week/month/year just responding to the comments section of Mission Local? … are there other publications that you’re doing this with? Truly curious because you’re all over these comments pages. Are you a shut-in? Is the only contact you have with the outside world?

        • John

          Would you be making that observation if I had agreed with your position?

          I’m sorry that you cannot take criticism but seeking to discredit another to avoid losing a debate doesn’t seem appropriate.

          • John

            Some of us can multi-task.

          • Native

            What ever sided your on, you need to check yourself. You surf the blogs so much you have no validity.

          • Orddu

            Yeah. I am too. What’s your story, John? Does your employer know how much time you waste rebutting everybody (or supporting them, should they agree with you) on ML?
            It borders on obsessive/compulsive behavior.

          • backtotheburbs

            John is a mission landlord who bought his first property at age 26. He claims to have housed over 100 tenants and that now he mostly sells Mission buildings and does short term Mission leases to tourists and corporatists. How do I know all this? Oddly I learned all of this from his ML posts, so he is not shy.

            Hope this context helps to understand his monothematic everpresence.

      • woeofgij

        bigbadjohn, we know who you are!

  40. TJ

    Jet Martinez was an artist in residency at Facebook for two weeks when they commissioned him to paint them a mural.

    I’m curious to know if he took one of their busses to their offices. The people who signed his paycheck certainly did.

    It’s been mentioned elsewhere in the comments that lots of folks, including myself, would never have heard of Jet Martinez if not for Mission Local. So this is a little like a celebrity who bemoans their lack of anonymity.

    He made art for the public to see, and now, not only are way more people seeing it as a result of this post, but his art is creating important debate on issues like whether public art can in fact be owned, and the cultural, economic and demographic changes in the Mission as a result of tech. If Jet Martinez is a civic minded artist, I’d think he’d be thrilled.


  41. Bartz

    Wow, is MOVE ON the new catch phrase for the entitled of San francisco.

    Maybe all the new (not all billionaires) Mission residents, who can’t understand or simply don’t care about the gentrification problem in the Mission should wear “MOVE ON” t-shirts.

    This way on a typical Saturday on Valencia St or other enclave, where these people spend their buckets of disposable income, we will see a true representation of their politics.

    I applaud the people reaching out from the tech community, but I truly believe they are truly a t i n y minority.

    • Mike

      “Wow, is MOVE ON the new catch phrase for the entitled of San francisco.”

      Tiresome and predictable, isn’t it?

      That along with “Move to Oakland.” I’ve seen that 100s of times on sites.

      Those are the two main catch phrases from the very limited repertoire used by the corporatist shills (pro-gentrification trolls).

      • John

        So someone who doesn’t like gentrification is an advocate for social and economic justice?

        And someone who supports it is a troll?

        How convenient. And prejudicial.

  42. Shame on you, Mission Local. You have gotten involved in a project that was a token way for the tech community to clean up its image before it has cleaned up its act. These companies need to improve their standing through actions to benefit citizens, not publicity stunts like working with you to hand out less than a month’s rent to a local artist for making them look like “a moving mirror of our urban landscape.” It is an urban landscape they are destroying.

    I am an artist from Honduras now based in San Francisco. I used to live in the mission but left because of the price of housing. I have nothing to do with the Clarion Alley Mural Project but I stand by them completely.

  43. Scott Tsuchitani

    Wow, Mission Local really blew a lot of cred with this one.

    The basic premise was pro-gentro from the get-go:

    “As long as the buses are around, it seemed like a good idea to make them and their passengers less separate from the community.”

    This idea of making them less separate is only “good” to those who welcome the GBuses and accompanying evictions, and the material realization of the contest could only ever be possible with corporate complicity.

    The lack of accountability in ML’s dismissive responses to the impassioned reactions of artists on this thread only underscores where their sympathies apparently lie: with the corporations that sponsor the buses. Maybe that’s why the contest judges included a Danish tech entrepreneur, a New York-based NBC-staffer, and a computer science major from UC Berkeley. How Mission-local is that?

    Here’s a video by an artist who was born in the Mission:

    Welcome to the GBus

    The idea that artists should be grateful for the exposure generated when a media outlet promotes the corporate appropriation of our work directly in the face of our own clearly articulated objections only holds water in a market-driven neoliberal corporatist mindset. What does it say about real dignity and respect for artists? Unfortunately, this bottom-line marketing ideology is endemic to the tech elite influx that’s forcing artists out of our city—and leading to “local” publications promoting corporatism and gentrification, apparently with little to no accountability to the communities they purport to serve.

  44. Clearly we need price controls for art. Set at of 60% of the CPI…!!!!!

  45. DaygoUKnow

    First, this conspiracy that they knew who painted the pink building and picked it just to spite the guy….im flexible but thats a stretch

    now ima go for another stretch if thats what we are in the market for…

    i find it funny that in an unofficial contest, for no real purpose purely conceptual, but obviously an avenue for jokes and critical commentary and now a great dialogue , the ¨artists¨ of the mission refused to participate…

    its funny because the artists claim to defend the community from the appropriators

    when we all know they are the first to sell out to their patrons….

    perfect example our buddy Jet


    what do yall think

  46. Mike

    I read up above in a comment that the person who runs this website is a tenured professor of journalism. I would have never guessed that based on the amateurish and irresponsible way this issue is being handled by Ms. Chávez. It’s astounding. Apparently standards in Journalism have been lowered considerably. They don’t teach basic copyright law in journalism? How can they *not* teach copyright law in journalism? And pleading willful-ignorance is not an excuse or justification. It’s lame. I agree with someone up above, maybe a marketing position in a tech company would be a better job for Ms. Chávez.

    In the meanwhile, maybe this will help:

    Murals, Art Copyright, and VARA
    Yes, real artists paint on buildings and yes those artists own the copyright in the art.

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