Juan Carlos Soberanis at a table at the Sunrise Cafe. Photo by Claudia Escobar

Here’s your Afternoon Report: 

I often see people at cafés or restaurants at tables with sprawling watercolor sets, oils and notebooks with what seems to be nonsensical doodles.

After finishing our lunch at Sunrise Cafe on 24th Street, Claudia and I approached the cash register and noticed someone next to us sitting at a table with a very neatly ordered crayon and color markers suitcase and a thick notebook.

Juan Carlos Soberanis, wearing a blue sports jacket with the Mexican team emblem of El América, was at a table doing drawings. When Soberanis noticed us staring he was quick to smile and start a conversation.

Soberanis works in construction, but during rainy days -such as yesterday- he can’t go to work, so he turns to his second full time job: drawing and painting. He lives nearby Sunrise Cafe and Albita, the owner, lets him stay there all day.

Our conversation went like this: the three of us were loud and talking to each other at the same time half joking and half seriously and he would leaf through his notebook and point to drawings that would trigger stories.

I noticed he even had his own coffee mug and jokingly I said he really must feel very at home. My comment triggered the story of Bandido, a big red crawfish that Soberanis found alive at Terra Mia Ceramic Studio while he was painting his mug. He has a version of Bandido painted inside the mug and the figure seems to be coming out of it.

Soberanis rescued the crawfish and after failed attempts to keep him as a pet (pet stores did not know how to take care of a crawfish or what to feed him), his friend took Soberanis and Bandido to a river near Half-Moon Bay that flows into the open sea. Bandido dove right in.

Of the many amazing drawings, he showed us several sketches of a couple embracing, entwined in the trunk of a tree against the skyline of the city. The mural, he explained, was recently painted over when new tenants moved in to the house on Lucky Street. It had been there for 14 years. Soberanis said that when he painted it, he saw the driveway’s blank wall as an opportunity to bring life to his own sketch.

It’s now gone, but it has been memorialized.

He pulled out the Mission Muralismo book, opened it to page 130 and with the biggest smile on his face pointed at the mural – the finished version of his sketch.

The book shows a photo dated from 2008 and it cites the author as unknown. Well, we’ve solved that mystery!

This has been your Afternoon Report—a new series we’re trying out in which we offer a quickie post-meridian rundown of some minor developments in the always-happening streets of the Mission District. Got ideas or suggestions? Let us know what you think by sending an email to info@missionlocal.com.

Andrea Valencia

Andrea was born and raised in Mexico City, where she graduated as a translator/interpreter. She has been working with Mission Local since 2009 translating content for the Spanish page. Also lives in the...

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