A mural painted over the weekend at 24th and Folsom streets was defaced almost immediately after its completion. Photo by Laura Waxmann

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.

A portion of the original mural. Photo by Anya Montiel

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  1. Completely agree with Alex. I personally didn’t like the artist’s choice of font. It’s almost asking to be defaced. Perhaps the vandals had higher standards.

  2. Wow.

    Who paints over a community mural like that? What artist doesn’t know you don’t go over someone’s work just because some property owner said to. How on earth does someone not get that painting over a community message of self-determination with blanket saccharine feel-good-ism is EXACTLY part of the problem the original mural was trying to address?

    The artist involved maybe talented, but s/he/they need to learn a lot. Pubic art in every major city in the country had laws, rules, custom that are actually very positive and encouraging of talent. This artist’s lack of thoughtfulness is correctable. Otherwise, yeah, just go out there steamrolling, but your work isn’t going to be taken seriously.

    This business owner might want to rethink opening in the Mission. Being kind to people means building connections and learning about where you are. He obviously doesn’t care. What a missed opportunity for everyone.

  3. I was there when the artist was painting this mural on Mission. She was kind enough to encourage my five year old daughter to help. Showed my daughter her how to hold the can, etc. Very patient and just nice. My daughter was excited to see the finished piece the next day only to see it defaced.

    I find it strange that a property owner needs to get permission from street artist or Precita Eyes to replace murals on their property or face defacement. I can’t see it as anything but extortion. I am planning on painting a mural my garage door with my daughter but I worry that these groups are going to deface it because it doesn’t have enough street cred or something. Hard to explain to a kid.

    1. It’s hard to explain to a kid because you haven’t understood it. How your daughter feels about the defaced mural she painted and how the community feels about their community mural being covered by this new mural is not related (if you were making that relationship, then do the feelings of the children who worked on the previous mural not matter?). It’s not about “street cred” please do not belittle people’s reverence for their culture, especially a culture that has been largely displaced, appropriated and marginalized.

      The defacement was an inevitable result of white-washing a representation of the community and its values, without having discussed with the community prior to abrupt changes. Is this being a “good person”?

      1. It wasn’t the community’s mural, it was a mural paited by some kids in an arts program. The folks at Precita Eyes represent a very small subset of the Mission community. MOST of the neighbors agree with the building owner that is was a dark mural.

        As a privately owned building in the United States of America, it’s wall colors should be determined by the owner of said walls. Everyone else’s opinions shouldn’t matter.

        Calling this “white-washing” s the funniest part of Nathan Sneller’s(a white guy) message. If no one new anything about the artist, city, building or neighborhood and just saw this mural, would they think a white person painted it? Not likely…..

        People that vandalize are hate filled and sad.

        1. Dark people are part of the community too and their dark murals should be respected.


    2. The property owner needs to ask permission because the Mission murals are the property of the community as party of an established Mission community Art project that’s existed for years, and is managed by La Precita. It’s not difficult to understand and certainly not extortion. All pieces are signed so its easy to find contact info. The property owner should know that.
      It shows tremendous disrespect to the community to paint over the pre-existing art. The artist should’ve known better. The mural was is a stop on a Mission Art tour. That moring the tour guide saw the artist setting up her supplies – they told her the situation, that the mural belonged to the community and she could not paint over it. Artist argued that she had the owners permission – the tour guide asked the artist to wait until she could back from the tour so they could work it out — the artist ignored her request and began painting over the mural.
      That artist may’ve been nice to your child, but she has no respect for fellow artists. That is why her mural was defaced.

    3. State law grants artists certain rights over their work, including murals done with owners’ permission (we’re not talking about stealth murals done without permission), even if ownership of the building changes. Under state law, there is a process for mural removal that needs to be followed.

  4. Am I the only one to see that both murals are butt face ugly? At least the skull one has the excuse of being painted by kids. Paint something with skill and craft, and send everyone else to art school.

    1. Alex, if you can spray paint in bubble letters, you are an artist. It’s a skill that takes year’s to master like being a doctor, teacher, chef, or carpenter. These artists give more to the community because they paint on the walls that we see everyday. Their message is more important than yours so they should have the write to preach on any wall they can write on. Get with the program already!!!

  5. Well.It’s not Unfortunate that it was Vandalized right away, it had it coming..
    A really nice mural which had the Names of Murdered Mission District Gang members was painted over by simple yet Ignorant and DIS-respectfull taggers who are not even from the Mission District. In Gang members Culture this is a Big DISrespect worthy of an Asskicking the Minimum…Had the Local Gangsters caught these Certified Idiots they would have gotten an Asskicking Minimum. Some persons hold Grudges, the Nortenos have NOT forgotten about that mural been painted over.
    We can ALL talk until we are Blue in the Face but Violence gets the Message across like nothing else will..
    # 1-).Those Amateurs who painted over the Mural? Is a Big NO NO to paint over other Artists Murals. I known case of ” other muralist ” who painted over other Artists Murals and wound up in the Hospital.

    #2 A professional muralist is supposed to Pressure wash the walls in order to get rid of dirt, smog, grime dust, etc etc and ALLOW water to fully DRY for an entire day in a Hot sunny day as in come back the next day after Sun light: 3 days on Cold weather days. Absolutely NO painting over/ during foggy days.

    1. > A really nice mural which had the Names of Murdered Mission District Gang members was painted over by simple yet Ignorant and DIS-respectfull taggers

      Who cares about the feelings of Mission District gang members? We should disrespect them as much as possible.

      1. Re “gang” members: We are talking about young people here, which means by definition they are not fully matured, have lapses in judgement or impulse control, and are at a developmental point in their lives where they can be reached and shown a different path. Disrespecting them and disenfranchising them does the opposite. Also, the definition of “gang” can be very broad and not terribly accurate. Lots of people are happy enough to don costumes and appropriate the candy skull/skull masks for Day of the Dead (and lift a beer), but the respect for the culture that inspired that seems to be sadly lacking.

  6. Those are not Mandelas. Those are just flower designs. Funny the first you can do as a Good person is not cover up children’s art and then not appropriate spiritual symbols.

  7. Are we now going to start a graffiti war? The person who did this is just an inartistic halfwit.

  8. When the message of the mural was, white-wash away Mexican culture from the Mission is being a good person, then what happened is an act of correction. Not defacing.

    Who’s side are you on Mission Local?