A mural at 24th and Folsom streets criticized last Friday because the artist had painted over an existing mural has been vandalized within a day of its completion.
The new mural consists of colorful mandalas and the phrase “be a good person” on the Folsom street side of 2801 Folsom St., where a Peruvian restaurant is slated to open sometime this month. Its painter had been asked by the property owner to install the mural on the 24th Street side of the same building, which meant replacing an existing mural that had been painted earlier by neighborhood youth through an arts program.
After objections from the creators of the original mural, the new mural was completed in its alternate location over the weekend. But by Monday morning, it had already been defaced with brown spray-paint.
The artist, who is from the East Bay, said on Friday that she was given permission by the building’s owner, Ali Rismanchi, to replace the Precita Eyes mural with something “more colorful.”
The original mural was created in 2015 by Mission youth enrolled in Precita Eyes’ Urban Youth Art program and depicted elements of Latino culture as well as the words “Our culture is not for sale.” Rismanchi said on Friday that he felt the mural was “too dark.”
But as the artist began working on the 24th Street wall space, a group of local muralists and community activists interfered, informing her that the mural was under copyright protection and that she needed to get permission for its removal from the arts organization before proceeding.
Saying that she was granted permission by the organization’s founder, the artist continued with her plans for replacing the mural, painting over it with a layer of white paint, further angering the group of local muralists.
They said that the artist was never granted permission, and likened the unsanctioned removal of the community mural to the neighborhood’s rampant gentrification.
In response to their protest, Rismanchi negotiated with the arts organization and agreed to let the its members paint a replacement for their destroyed mural in the same location. He then instructed the East Bay artist to continue painting the “be a good person” mural on the building’s Folsom street side instead.
On Monday, the defaced mural sparked sidewalk conversations. Dogpaw Carrillo, a local artist who is also affiliated with Precita Eyes, said the vandalism was “unfortunate,” but could have been avoided.
“Sometimes as artists we find ourselves in the middle of these warring factions and it’s particularly saddening when [the targets are] young people that are bringing color to the neighborhood,” he said. “But at the same time – how do you roll all this white paint on something that is obviously, to me and most people in my community, something of beauty?”
Had Rismanchi commissioned a local artist, or even taken the appropriate steps to inform Precita Eyes, the artist would have likely been met with more respect by the local community, he said.
“Precita Eyes is a lot like jazz – It’s very open. There is no top to bottom control, and I think the emphasis is skill and heart,” said Carrillo, in reference to the art organization’s willingness to work with artists from both within and outside of the local arts community.
It is unclear if the defaced mural will be restored. Rismanchi did not immediately return requests for comment about the vandalism.