Group seeks funds to repair Castro mural
by Matthew S. Bajko
Nearly a decade after the completion of the Duboce Bikeway Mural, the outdoor artwork is showing its age.
A dozen cracks in the facade behind the Safeway on Market Street where the mural is painted are allowing moisture to seep into it and slowly deteriorate the wall.
Passersby over the years have gouged out the eyes of many of the people depicted in the mural, and despite the mural backers' mostly successful attempts to keep graffiti artists from tagging the blocks-long bay to ocean painting, some taggers have left their marks. Shopping carts have marred the stucco in several places, and while paint has been applied to conceal the markings, the colors do not match the original work's palette.
Completed in 1998 by local muralist and artist Mona Caron, with the help of numerous volunteers and financial supporters, the 6,075 square foot mural (the number appears on the mural in the Duboce Street sign) is looked after by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. The group is looking to raise about $10,000 to cover the cost of the repairs.
"The mural is eight years old," said Joel Pomerantz, the project coordinator who is spearheading the fundraising drive.
Pomerantz has been seeking donations from Muni riders, who pass by a portion of the mural onboard the subway system's J-Church and N-Judah lines before going underground near the intersection of Church and Duboce streets. He is selling a seven-card set that depicts portions of the mural and explains its history, the identities of some of the people shown in the mural, and visuals hidden throughout the work. The cards sell for $4 to $5, and so far, 400 have been purchased.
On a rainy day earlier this month, Pomerantz pointed out some of the problems the bicyclist group is hoping to repair to ensure the longevity of the mural. On the western end over the depiction of Sans Souci Creek, which used to flow down from the hills of the Haight through Sans Souci Valley and out to the bay, the wall is visibly cracking. At the eastern end cracks can be seen in the sky above the Ferry Building image.
"The problem is not so much the visual crack. The problem is it lets in moisture and it will allow the wall to deteriorate," said Pomerantz. "It will start breaking down from the inside. We have to keep the moisture out of the wall."
For Pomerantz, the saddest problem with the mural is the scrapping out of the eyes of the people depicted in the project who pushed to see the artwork created in the first place.
"It is not surprising. Many of the people on the streets have psychological issues and to them eyes are seen as threatening," he said.
Pomerantz hopes to secure enough funding to begin work on the repairs sometime next year.
"We need to bring in a stucco expert to repair the gouges," he said. "We also have to have the original artist in to do color matching," he said.
To learn more about the mural or donate toward the project, visit www.bikemural.org.