When I explore a new city, I’ve got two priorities. Eat the food and find the art. By “art”, I don’t mean what’s stashed away in museums behind velvet ropes. Most of what is in a museum wasn’t created locally, and therefore adds nothing to one’s understanding of a community.
To me, the greatest and most powerful art is made up of the murals and graffiti decorating the walls, buildings, public spaces, benches, and parks of the city. From a few words scribbled in spray paint to elaborate paintings 20 feet high, street art is what really tells the story of a city and its people.
Are the people upset? Are they ashamed? Are they merely trying to beautify a street corner? Are they documenting the past? Are they looking to the future? Are they hopeful? What are they trying to communicate? What makes them who they are?
Next time you are in a new city, open up your eyes a little wider and look for the story hidden in plain sight. Here are a few I stumbled across while in San Francisco.