For the third year in a row, San Franciscans can vote on the finalists for the Muni Art contest, which grants five local artists an opportunity to showcase their original works on the sides of SFMTA’s coaches turned roving art galleries, alongside poetry by local writers.
While a bus is not necessarily the first thing we think of when it comes to culture and erudition, Muni’s 82 service lines will deliver the finalists’ works to every corner of the city for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It’s an important way for these artists to get a hefty amount of exposure.
Almost all of the ten finalists hail from San Francisco, with a few Alameda County reps and one San Mateo County virtuoso in the running. Balloting lasts until August 28.
Here’s the field as it stands now:
Digital illustrator Rumsey specializes in seizing on singular words or phrases and creating idiosyncratic images to go along with them. Her What If? series hopes to “spark conversation” and “ignite self-reflection” through “simple lines, colors and people.”
Originally hailing from Arkansas, Brutus credits his style to a “childhood obsession with cartoons, comics, and retro design.” Although he does some highly realist human figures too, Seven By Siete plays up the comic side of his work. The full title is actually “Seven by Siete by 七 by Pito by Bảy by семь by Sept,” pulling in the seven most widely spoken languages in the Bay Area.
Hernandez refers to her work as “visual poetry” preoccupied with the actual shape and layout of words and text as potentially creative and intriguing in themselves. With Words Unfold, Hernandez aspires to “capture the curiosity of the public.”
Carroll says he has “drawn people on buses for decades, from New York to San Francisco,” so anybody who ever wondered why that guy on the 5 Fulton with the sketchpad kept eyeballing you, don’t be surprised if you turn up somewhere on his Instagram. Carroll says that the candid portraits of CityZens aim to relay “the beauty I see in [San Francisco residents] and in the city.”
Pace is an administrative assistant for a labor union and calls herself simply an illustrator “on the side.” Lyrical City represents her current preoccupation with portraits, which calls a natural complement to poetry, poems and faces both being “mysteries that we figure out.”
Self-described “graphic Designer, coffee drinker, [and] library lover,” Meli interprets the personal journey of poetry and visual art rather literally in Drawn To You, which indeed captures the spirit of the moment when future Muni riders take in the finalist’s work in the midst of their own journeys, be they daily commutes or more unusual crosstown escapades.
Hailing from Redwood City, Cha’s work “features one dominant figure” and “lead with 1-2 hues” for basic color before filling in with fine detail and additional colors for “backup support.” With Gliding Beyond, Cha hopes to assemble these elements to “bring balance as much as they stretch boundaries.”
Tsungwei Moo, originally from Taiwan, specializes in paintings on “found wood,” on which she sears images with a laser “like a reminder of the searing sun of Jamaica” (one of the 20 countries she’s visited for inspiration.) With From Macro To Micro she aims to create a template for Muni riders to “see and feel the selected poems regardless of one’s language or cultural background.”
Oakland-based game artist Lam Giang creates images from the weird to the whimsical, in this case the story of “a little android exploring and discovering the beauty of nature, diversity and technology.”
Photographer and UC Berkeley-educated zoologist Matthew O’Brien takes photos that “celebrate humanity and the natural world,” like his SFO exhibition about one of the Bay Area’s last major ranch communities in 2013. Of Respite, Transport O’Brien says, “For work that is to be displayed on Muni buses where people are often tired, commuting to and from work, and immersed in the stresses of city life, it’s especially important to offer the public work that can lift spirits.”