Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Muni’s Moving Art Galleries a Timely Artistic Adventure

Local artist Phillip Hua’s latest exhibit speaks to two ideals long-embraced by San Franciscans: inclusion and unity. What’s unique about Hua’s latest gallery showing, though, is that you can only see it on Muni buses.

Hua’s new exhibit, We are San Francisco: Unified Portraits of a Divided San Francisco, is part of Muni Art, an innovative artistic adventure between San Francisco Beautiful and the SFMTA that places local art in unusual places — in this case on 50 Muni buses.
Bay Area artists were asked to submit entries that reflected their artistic concept of “the spirit of San Francisco.” Through an online voting campaign, Hua’s entry, along with those of fellow artists Ariel Dunitz-Johnson, Reynaldo R. Cayeteno Jr., Andria Lo and Todd Berman, were chosen from 10 finalists. The five winning artists now have their work showcased inside 10 Muni buses each through the end of the year.

Hua’s work melds traditional and modern processes that include painting, photography, digital media and printing. We are San Francisco: Unified Portraits of a Divided San Francisco speaks to one of the city’s hot button issues: the growing economic divide and gentrification in the current tech boom.

“I wanted my message to be that we are all San Franciscans, and there’s no such thing as people who don’t belong here,” Hua said, noting that his family immigrated to the Bay Area from Vietnam in the mid ‘70s. “Everyone who has come here has come from somewhere else. It’s a constant wave of change that’s happening. It’s the cycle of an evolving city and culture.”

Hua’s portraits feature bisected headshots that merge the faces of plumbers with bankers, techies with tattoo artists and retired administrators with painters. His perspective comes from a unique vantage point. As an artist, he’s saddened by fellow members of the city’s creative community displaced because they can no longer afford to live in San Francisco.
But he’s quick to not lay blame on the tech community and feels that anger towards them has been misplaced. Hua says his husband, a tech sector employee, has given him a more balanced perspective.

“I’ve met lots of people in tech who were not these caricatures who were being depicted through the community,” Hua said. “They’re not these drones who have come into the city with zero culture and zero class and are just a parasite on San Francisco.”
Just as Muni is a system that connects neighborhoods, Hua said, the portraits are a way to connect — literally and figuratively — the rich cultural diversity of the city.
“It’s a way for me to urge unity through turbulent times.”

Hua is optimistic that the Muni Art installations will start a larger conversation about more art in public places, especially in San Francisco, with its overflowing creative community. Hua suggests that gentrification has actually led to a lot of things being cleaned up and beautified in the city, often times with art.

“What you’re seeing in San Francisco is that people really want more art. I think that really aligns with the goal of SF Beautiful and the [Muni Art] project.”

One of the project’s goals is to spread the Muni Art buses throughout the city so as many riders as possible will have to the opportunity to experience these moving art galleries. Each of the installations will travel along different routes over the next three months.

You won’t see the artwork until you board the bus, so if you’re lucky enough to catch one, make sure you share the experience by using the hashtag #SFMuniArt.

-Mark DeAnda

Interior car card panels from Hua’s We are San Francisco: Unified Portraits of a Divided San Francisco: (Photo courtesy of Phillip Hua)


Monday, July 6, 2015

Muni Project: We Are San Francisco

Portfolio examples of the style that I would use for the Muni art project. Actual work created is detailed below.

I'm a finalist for the inaugural San Francisco Beautiful Muni Art project, which plans to place art in Muni buses. But the decision for the artwork is up to you!

Voting requires registration on, a site devoted to empowering people to take action on local issues. It's a simple process which would take less than two minutes.

Here's my project proposal:

We Are San Francisco
There’s been a lot of talk about the gentrification of San Francisco. The winners and the losers. The old and the new. The “techies” and everyone else.
The anger is real. The tension is palpable.  But with the wave of change are new ideas and new energy. The old San Francisco is merging with the new San Francisco.
And in unison, they announce, “I am San Francisco.”
For my project proposal, I envision divided portraits of the people of San Francisco, merged with another. Plumbers with bankers, techies with tattoo artists. From the Presidio to the Portola, and the Marina to the Bayview. Just as Muni is a system that connects neighborhoods, the portraits are a way to connect, literally and figuratively, the rich cultural diversity of the city.  

“The Spirit of San Francisco” is about inclusion. Everyone from the freaks to the geeks and the hipsters to the homeless.  The open arms of the city embrace all who reach for it. My project serves to bring people together into the same “space” as a way urge unity through turbulent times.
If you'd like to see this project realized, please vote for my proposal!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Let the Sunshine In

Dawning. 24”x18”. Performative print (Hand-pulled screen print on construction paper). 2015. Edition of 500.

Folsom Lake, CA, 2011 (left), 2014 (right)
California's drought has me worried. If you've seen the pictures, you know. It's scary. I thought about what I could do to help with the situation. I took shorter showers. I flushed less. I saved my sink water for feeding plants.
I’ve been exploring the idea that commerce and consumption would be the driving force behind nature’s destruction. But the more I thought of it, the more I began to realize that we were only destroying ourselves. And ultimately, nature would just come back once we were long gone. And this is the inspiration for Dawning.
Drawing inspiration from Tibetan mandalas, Dawning is a screenprint on construction paper that meditates on the intersection of contemporary life and nature. The central design focuses on our preoccupations with wealth, war, technology, and consumption.

Dawningdetail image
Camouflaged behind it in green ink is Nature. With exposure to light, areas of the green construction paper begin to fade, and Nature emerges from the edges. Dawning isn't just an image. It's an experience and it reveals itself to you as you shed light on it.

Dawningdetail image; before sunlight exposure (left), after one week in direct sunlight (right)
While every little bit helps, I realize that my own personal conservation attempts are not enough. Real environmental conservation needs to come through policy changes. So I'm also donating a portion of each sale to the Sierra Club, an environmental lobbying organization.

The first 200 in the edition are $150. The next 200 are $200, and the last 100 are $250.
Soooooo... Buy some art, help save the world?
Eloquent Indicators. 40"x32". Pigmented ink and packaging tape on newspaper, mounted on Dibond. 2015.
May 1-3

stARTup Fair (with A Simple Collective)

Hotel Del Sol, room 302

3100 Webster Street

San Francisco, CA

May 16-June 14
Gross Domestic Product

E-Moderne Gallerie (solo exhibition)

116 Arch Street

Philadelphia, PA

May 21-June 7
Bearing Witness in the Drone Age

Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA

May 22-24

Affordable Art Fair (with Artered Gallery)

Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre

1 Expo Drive, Wan Chai

Hong Kong

June 11-14

Affordable Art Fair (with Cynthia Corbett Gallery)

Lower Fairground Site

East Heath Road

Hampstead, London

August 6-August 31
Salon 8

222 Hollywood Road

Sheung Wan

Hong Kong