UPDATE 3:57 p.m. Reports from our commenter that the mural has been defaced turned out to be accurate. The words “Amber Alert Mary Rose Shela Alicia Amber Alert” were tagged in white over the mural that is less than a month old.

Eric Rodenbeck, the CEO of Stamen Designs who helped finance the mural,  said even with the fresh mural vandalized, the wall still looks better than it used to. He plans to have another piece up soon.

“I am committed to have 16th and Mission BART plaza clean and welcoming for everyone who uses it,” he said.

Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

Originally published July 10, 11:32 a.m.

Nonprofit hands developer $10K to fund artwork

From his office at Stamen Design on Mission Street,  Eric Rodenbeck has a clear view of the former Burger King on 16th and Mission Streets — empty since January of this year, and a magnet for vandalism.

The developer that owns the land — Maximus Real Estate Partners — was forced to repeatedly paint over graffiti on the property, which is the proposed future home of the controversial 1979 Mission Street project — the so-called “Monster in the Mission.”  

As CEO and Creative Director of Stamen Designs, Rodenbeck is a firm believer that art can change people’s lives, which is one of the reasons he chose to fund a mural here. In addition to this, Rodenbeck also hated seeing the BART Plaza being trashed and vandalized daily, when it should be a welcoming and safe place both for Mission residents and visitors.

“All the neighborhood groups are completely toxic about anything good happening in the plaza because they don’t want to appear to be supporting Maximus or gentrification,” Rodenback said. “And all the while this is going on, the place is completely trashed, diseased, dysfunctional, crime-ridden.”

Rodenbeck, who has been living in the Mission for 24 years now and has been working at Stamen Designs for 17 of them, said one weekend of work has made all the difference.

“Every day I’d come to work and I’d look out the window, and I would see horrible tags, so you know, personally, I’m just glad to see some art.”

He made a daily ritual of sending pictures of the seedy plaza, including the vandalized wall of Burger King, to BART staff. After a month of this, some BART staff met with him to explain that the city was in charge of the sidewalks, but not the plaza itself. BART also steam-cleaned the plaza every night, but by 8 a.m, the place was trashed again.

Rodenback was not the first person to conceive of a mural on the spot. In July of last year, Mission4All, the community outreach group established by Maximus to push for the 1979 Mission project, reached out to price a mural on the site. The answer they got back, according to organizing director Angelica Santiago, was around $63,000. So, that ended the discussion for a while. Rodenback started the discussion back up again. And paid for it — sort of.

“I wasn’t happy to see was that [the plaza] was being tagged by casual taggers on a daily basis,” he said. “That’s why I funded the mural.”

Rodenbeck, who is on the board of the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, which funds art, education and health, decided to direct his $10,0000 discretionary fund from the foundation to Mission4All after reaching out to Maximus Real Estate Partners to suggest painting a mural over the vandalized properties.

The foundation required him to donate the money to the community one way or another, and Rodenbeck emphasizes that Maximus Real Estate Partners and Kenneth Rainin Foundation are not affiliated. The donation was made under his name and not the foundation’s, Rodenbeck noted.

From there, Mission4All hired “Adan,” a Mission artist who designs clothing for local store Dying Breed, to paint and curate the project that went up on the weekend of June 9.  

“Adan,” who was hesitant to talk to Mission Local, said that he chose an ‘80s hip-hop culture-themed mural to make it more relatable, and also as a tribute to the Bay Area’s street-art history.

Rodenbeck said that each of the 10 artists who participated were paid $500. The remainder went to pay for lunch, dinner, materials, and Adan.

The former Burger King is part of the 1979 Mission project led by Maximus Real Estate Properties. The current proposed plan, according to spokesman Joe Arellano, is to build 331 units. Maximus is still discussing how many units will be affordable, but Arellano said that it will exceed city requirements.

Arellano said that it’s unclear when (or if) the project will break ground, as city approval is still pending.

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