“You were sitting on the curb making a flower crown out of dandelion,” begins a recent Craigslist missed connections post entitled “Garfield Pool ~1 pm”. “The way your eyes sparkled stirred my insides. Where did you come from?”
On missed connections, users post free, anonymous personal ads to people they’ve encountered. To the curators and artists at the Beehive Society–a group of four women with a background in the arts–the stolen glances, clipped conversations, and lewd come-ons of missed connections are just as much fodder for art as they are for love.
At a recent Friday at Asterisk San Francisco, the group presented a show of works inspired by the genre’s poetic mixture of the surreal and sincere. Past shows were themed around Game of Thrones and the Simpsons, but wanted to push artists to explore a less focused medium.
“The artists thought it was such a weird and wonderful idea,” said Ali Burnett, who helped coordinate the exhibition. “No one chose the touching [posts]. They chose the outlandish ones.”
The artists drew inspiration from real-life peons to the “waiter with the long hair at Zoetrope,” “naked dumpster diver,” “beautiful prostitute on 1st street”, and a woman spotted eating cat food with a fork. “Looks like you got manners,” swooned the admirer.
The resulting pieces spanned mediums and forms. Jez Burrrow, a designer and artist at Facebook, repurposed vintage album covers with snippets of text from posts (“Mystery bear where are you?”). Beehive Creative Director Shiu Pei Luu, inspired by the cat food catcall, chose to paint on the cans themselves in pieces like “Kevin the Party Cat”. Brian Estill channeled a more direct sentiment in his “Portrait of Alysha”, which drew from a post from a grieving lover: “I can’t believe I still think about you.”
Dana Martin of Beehive suggested that missed connection captures a kind of contemporary urban longing for connection. “People from San Francisco aren’t usually from the city; it’s a diaspora from across the country,” she said. “Being able to find a connection–even if you only see them for a second–suggests to me that there’s a hunger to create community.”
The event drew a packed room in the gallery. Still, a quick Saturday morning search on missed connections from the previous night turned up only a glance from passersby on Valencia Street and a peon to Annie from Starbucks’ “lemonade and smoldering eyes.”