Muralist Joset Medina: creating art for the LGBT community and beyond

  • by David-Elijah Nahmod
  • Sunday March 24, 2024
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Muralist Joset Medina with 'Sunset Caress,' one of his works at an Oakland home. (photo: Joest Medina)
Muralist Joset Medina with 'Sunset Caress,' one of his works at an Oakland home. (photo: Joest Medina)

Joset Medina's art has been seen in South America, Europe and the United States. Art is his passion. Born in Venezuela, Medina has lived in Panama, Spain, and now San Francisco. In all the places he's lived, he's worked as an architect while developing a second career as an artist. As an architect he has worked in commercial and residential projects. As an artist he creates drawings, paintings and murals.

"I've been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember," Medina said in an interview with the Bay Area Reporter. "As a child I used to create drawings and cartoons of my family, especially since I grew up surrounded by women who were my initial subjects. I began addressing their female connection through my art."

Joset Medina with one of his paintings in Toledo, Spain (photo: Joset Medina)  

Medina recalls being a shy child. High school wasn't easy for him. When he was bullied by some of his classmates, he responded by making funny cartoons of them, exaggerating their unflattering features in order to cope and protect himself.

"Painting and drawing are like therapy for me," he said. "I love channeling my personal experiences into my art. It's like a way to grow and learn from life's challenges. I get a lot of inspiration from nature, my travels and especially the strong women in my life. Although, since tying the knot, and my connection with my husband, I've started incorporating more male subjects into my work."

Bay Area freedom
While living in Panama, Medina worked for a multinational architecture firm based in Southern California. He traveled quite a bit for work, and San Francisco was always high on his list of places he wanted to visit. He finally made his way here and instantly fell in love with the city. He was enchanted by the freedom he felt here after seeing guys holding hands and kissing on the street. It was a refreshing change from Panama and Venezuela, where there is still a great deal of prejudice against LGBT people.

Artist Joset Medina with 'Waves,' one of his commissioned home murals (photo: Joset Medina)  

While in San Francisco he met an interior designer with whom he clicked immediately. They agreed to work together, though that had to be put on a temporary hold while he worked towards getting an O1 (extraordinary abilities) visa. Once that was approved, he returned to San Francisco and has been here ever since.

He's kept busy. Last year he created "Sunset Caress," a mural painted in the backyard of a gay couple in Oakland who wanted to work with an LGBTQ artist and support the community. They were looking to create a mural as the main featured art piece on their background wall. Medina said that he couldn't reveal the couple's names as they prefer to remain private.

"What I wanted to convey was primarily based on conversations with the clients," he said. "They expressed a desire for me to incorporate elements from my previous artworks into the design, such as the female subject, vibrant colors, and the wavy, organic shapes of my line work, all tied to their landscape design."

The completion of the mural took Medina about sixteen days.

"I worked on weekends since my architecture job keeps me busy during the weekdays, so I'd say that it took me eight weekends total," he said. "My husband Robert (Wiesner) was a huge help during this time. He often assists me with painting my murals when he's not working. Also, my friend Alex helped me paint on a few days as well. When I get assistants or hire someone, I usually ask them to help with prepping the mural and painting the large flat area, so I can focus on the detailed line work, which tends to take me more time."

Artist Joset Medina (photo: Robert Wiesner)  

Designing vision
Medina's latest project is a mural for a kid's room in San Francisco, commissioned by the children's parents. For this project he is collaborating with the parent's interior designer.

"They were looking for a mural that they could keep for several years, not just for the early age of their kids," he said. "I would say they were looking for something timeless, playful, dynamic, with organic shapes that relate to natural elements or a landscape."

His approach to this project is unique and is keeping in step with what the parents want.

"I've approached this project with both an artist and an interior designer mindset because the mural design has been coordinated with the elements that the client's interior designer team has already placed there," he said. "The millwork elements, line work and colors are integrated with the mural. I can't give more details until the project is complete."

Since moving to San Francisco, Medina has established a strong bond with the LGBT community. However, as an architect and an artist, he maintains a vision that goes further than any one specific community.

"I believe that by stepping out of my comfort zones, working with different people, communities and even businesses, I can continue to grow and learn."

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