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10 artists vie to festoon Muni buses (vote now)

Some culture for your commute

"Pretty" is not a word that gets thrown at Muni very often. But local artists have been laboring to inject some culture and aesthetic horizons into your daily commute, and SFMTA has narrowed the field down to ten finalists.

Whose work will actually be featured on 100 "rolling art galleries" across the city’s 50 bus lines? Well, that’s up to the public. Voting is going on right now over at SFMTA and polls are open until August 29. Here are your ten candidates in order of votes accrued. A clear front runner has emerged, but there’s yet 12 days left for a dark horse victory, so get on over there and vote.

Teens Of San Francisco (426 votes)

Leading the pack for now is a series of portraits by Monica Tiulescu. Oakland-based Tiulescu taught architecture and design arts at Ruth Asawa School for a bit, and these portraits are last year’s students, paired with the San Francisco neighborhood each grew up in. "People form the culture of a neighborhood," Tiulescu says in her artist’s statement.

City Walks (271 votes)

Trailing in second as of today, Counterpoint Studio offers portraits of neighborhoods rather than the neighbors. Above you see part of their interpretation of China Basin. Slapping each neighborhood onto the side of a Muni bus would show off these blocks "from many perspectives and points in time," say the artists.

Bit By Bit (261 votes)

A very close third, Lillian Shanahan captures San Francisco character through bead work, since "small aspects of a community shape the greater picture" of a neighborhood’s character. Shanahan is a city native who studied at UC Santa Barbara.

Las Historias De San Francisco (227 votes)

Luis Pinto presents vector illustrations of "diverse but common storefronts" across San Francisco neighborhoods, "locations that serve as connective tissue" from block to block. In this case, it’s the taqueria and convenience store on Mission and 25th. Pinto edits the nonprofit arts magazine Strangeways.

Beauty in Diversity (207 votes)

Despite all appearances, this is not the work of Genndy Tartatovsky, but rather of San Francisco artist and Ovaltine aficionado Ryan Hungerford. Hungerford’s pitch sees Muni as a mixer of San Francisco’s various contrasting communities.

Sight Seeing: San Francisco Edition (201 votes)

Is it just us, or does this pelican look remarkably pleased with itself? Todd Kurnat, an illustrator on a kick about local flora and fauna, proposes merging local wildlife with maps of the neighborhoods where they’re most frequently encountered. "The diversity of animals that share our communities" tends to go overlooked, says Kurnat.

DrawBridge Artists (185 votes)

Rather than any one artist or theme, DrawBridge showcases works created by homeless children in the city. Wow, that might be the most simultaneously heartwarming and devastatingly depressing mission statement ever composed. "Homeless children often fly under the radar because they don’t want their peers to know," the group says.

Out and About (133 votes)

Marianne Bland, whose work you probably saw on the giant Union Square heart for most of 2012, proposes a series of neighborhood images that "showcase the actual personality" of the places (rather than exclusively making them look pretty). "Hopefully these images will inspire empathy" writes Bland.

Unexpected Beauty: Urban Abstracts From the Streets of San Francisco (113 votes)

Jon Wessel takes photos of "urban marks" (graffiti, street signs, posters, etc) and alters them via iPhone to create surreal, non-literal representations of normal things. Freaky. Wessel calls "Unexpected Beauty" the "ever changing dialogue that breathes life" into a cityscape.

Pieces of San Francisco (87 votes)

These drawings from self-described "street peddler and muralist" Amos Goldbaum mean to play up the unnoticed and unheralded blocks, corners, and byways of San Francisco, including some historical vistas long gone and some still visible from Muni bus windows today.