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The best stencil art by Michael Roman (1956-2016)

Mission artist’s “wild Latino punk style” inspired neighborhood for two decades

Michael Roman, the local artist whose stencil style became the quintessential Mission artistic statement, died on Monday from a combination of ailments at the age of 60.

That’s why you may have noticed a few new images popping up in the windows of neighborhood shops around 24th Street in tribute to the late innovator.

But if you didn’t notice, it’s probably because Roman’s imagery and imitators became almost ubiquitous in the neighborhood over the decades.

A street artist born in LA and incubated (artistically, that is) in New York City, Roman moved to San Francisco in the early ’00s for a position at the Mission Cultural Center, arranged by his friend, rock guitarist Carlos Santana.

Roman’s eponymous website referred to his seething pavement and street sign stencils as “punk Latino wild style,” “a free falling universe of audacious color,” and an “underground world of monsters and marvels.”

Others might simply call it the Mission style, because even if you think you don’t know Roman’s work, one look at his oeuvre and you can’t help but recognize its influence all over the neighborhood.

Indeed, here’s just a small sampling of the many, many places you may have run into a Roman original over the years without realizing it, gathered from Instagram.

A photo posted by yakamoz (@pelagic) on

A photo posted by Ralphyboy161 (@ralphyboy161) on

A photo posted by Eli Lippert (@elilippert) on