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Darwin Bell’s ‘Colors of the Tenderloin’ Photo Exhibit Opens

Noted photographer’s glorious TL imagery finally gets its due

Noted San Francisco-based photographer, Darwin Bell, is well known for is hyper-vivid shots of San Francisco signage and beyond. After falling victim to an owner move-in eviction in 2013—his former Alamo Square apartment, where he lived for 20 years, is now an Airbnb rental—he moved to a small studio in the Tenderloin. That's when his camera's scope switched aim.

"The second I moved into my little studio, I knew I was home," Bell, who lives and works in the neighborhood, tells Curbed SF. "I find something new to photograph within every block and a half, every single day."

The last few years has resulted in a series of photos from his new neighborhood, which will go on display starting tonight at the Tenderloin Museum.

When asked what he finds so curious about the neighborhood, he says, "Especially right now, it’s changing all the time. They put up public art, then paint over the public art. Better yet, there’s a curious habit in the Tenderloin neighborhood of painting over the decay, which is bizarre."

All of this can be found in his work, from the close-up shots of paint swatches on the back of buildings to the street art that graces brick facades.

Some of his favorite spots in the neighborhood are the Cova Hotel building with the blue arrow—"my absolute favorite," he says—as well as the peacock art on Geary and Leavenworth.

View all of Bell’s Tenderloin photo exhibit, Colors of the Tenderloin, starting tonight and running through July 15 at the Tenderloin Museum, 398 Eddy (at Leavenworth).

Be sure to check out this evening’s opening reception from 6:30pm-9pm where you can meet the artist , drink librations, a take in his bombastic yet brilliant work.