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See SF’s 20 weirdest, worst intersections turned into minimalist art

“It functions as a Rorschach test,” says the artist

There’s nothing beautiful about the baffling, chaotic, sometimes life-threatening way that San Francisco street grids run pell-mell into each other at the city’s worst intersections. At least not until Seattle-based artist Peter Gorman gets his hands on it.

Gorman’s Barely Maps Etsy shop just released a print rendering SF’s strangest lanes in Gorman’s sparse signature style. “I got a lot of requests for San Francisco” Gorman tells Curbed SF, after previously creating line-ups of cities like Portland, Manhattan, and Seattle.

Gorman has no formal arts training, but took inspiration from city streets while ditching his previous life in Boston and indulging in a year-long bike tour of the US in 2014.

“I just decided to sell everything, quit my job, and bike,” he says. “I assumed my friends and family would tell me I was crazy, but everyone told me to do it.”

Graphic courtesy of Peter Gorman

Relocating to Seattle when the dust settled, Barely Maps started as an amusing, extemporaneous illustration of some of that city’s most unpredictable arrangements, and it proved a hit.

The fun, of course, is in deciding what Gorman’s version of San Francisco streets resembles most closely; viking runes? Keith Haring scenes? The harrowing intersection of Columbus, Green, and Stockton looks like a water skipper; while Mission, John Daly, and Hillside resembles a tipsy ballroom dancer.

“It functions as a Rorschach test,” Gorman says. “People see Japanese lettering or yoga poses. My ex said it reminded him of Stargate.”

Prints run $25 each. By popular demand, Gorman also offers the latest illustration on a t-shirt for the first time.

The intersection artist is also fielding suggestions to take on cities like Chicago and London. However, if anybody wants to start scouting Oakland hot spots for him, there’s surely a future there too.