Mission and18th Street

A year ago, I became interested in photographing surfaces where juxtapositions of spilled or running paint, a crack in the wall, a streak of rust, a splash of water, a shadow, can create interesting and intriguing images — what I call unintended art. That’s when I came across 2205 Mission St., at 18th — at one time, an appliance store.

The building, which MEDA recently purchased, has been unoccupied for more than ten years. In that time, the outer wall surfaces have had parts torn off, or fallen off, been coated and re-coated in graffiti, painted and re-painted to cover up graffiti, had posters posted, then ripped off, and other “stuff” splattered randomly here and there.

It was extraordinary. Amongst the decay, deterioration and filth, I saw images — images that resonated right away, images that were very apparent to me, images that I thought I could cut out and hang on my wall just as I saw them there, grime and all.

“Blood” was the first photograph I took (which I do have hanging on my wall).


I got down on my knees to get the shot.

This is the wall where “Blood” came from.

I went back to 2205 Mission weekly, sometimes more often. There was a lot of wall, and a lot more images to be had — I could feel it. And there was a constant sense of urgency to get them, because as graffiti came and went, and as pieces of the wall disappeared, so did potential subject matter, I realized. As did images I’d already taken. Often, I’d go back a day or a week after I’d taken a photograph, only to find the scene gone.

“Real Violence”

The statement’s faintness seemed contrary.

“Day After”

I took this the day after the election. It expresses how I felt.

“Water & Waves”

As I stared at it, I thought I heard the waves!

“Beer Posters”

Beer posters painted over, later to be ripped off.

‘The Cavern”

Three dimensions?


As I found her.

Related content:

A history of the building at 18th and Mission Streets

Non-profit buys decaying building.  December 19, 2017

Join the Conversation


  1. Urban blight is ugly. People who see it as inspiration for art projects are welcome to photograph some piles of junk at the nearest landfill or recycling center. Meanwhile, people who care about the Mission can get to work developing run-down buildings into market-rate housing.

  2. It is clear that this building contains timeless art and is an historical resource to the community. MEDA should not be allowed to gentrify the neighborhood by building housing there. At least those are the arguments that will be made by Calle 24.

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