UPDATED: Cheerful Painted Rock Becomes Charged Political Battlespace


Until now, painted rock on the north side of Bernal Hill has mostly been used as a festive way to celebrate seasonal holidays like Valentine’s DayChristmas, and St. Patrick’s Day. Also: your mama.

Over the weekend, however, the  colorful decor took an unfortunate turn as the rock became a political canvas where supporters of Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton took turns bashing one another.

Neighbor Karen documented the battle between the Bernie-ites and the Clintonistas.

This past Thursday: the gold-painted rock was painted blue. (shown above)

Saturday AM: Two women were spotted adorning the blue with “Bernie Rocks”:


By Sunday, this was defaced:


Later Sunday, this countered the defacement:


Frankly, this is an unfortunate development. Aside from the fact that slogans painted on a rock are unlikely to influence the behavior of even one actual voter, the only real winners in the debate are the killjoys who have always opposed any painting on the rock at all.

Just saying: As a surface for seasonal art and creative expression, the painted rock has become a Bernal Heights icon. But as a battlespace between rival Democratic factions, the rock is about as much fun as political discourse on cable television. Or, put another way, all that is pretty much the exact opposite of this:


UPDATE 26 April, 9:50 am: Ah, that’s more like it. Neighbor Christiano tells us that as of this morning, the rock has been transformed yet again. Yay!purplerock

PHOTOS: Blue rock battle by Neighbor Karen. Cupid rock from 2012, by Neighbor Rally.

23 thoughts on “UPDATED: Cheerful Painted Rock Becomes Charged Political Battlespace

  1. With a delighted smile, I must disagree that this is unfortunate. What a wonderful thing that liberal tribes of Bernal are fired up enough about the democratic process to go to battle. The opposite is apathy and indifference. As an ardent Clintonista, even I think that last defacement is funny as hell. I’m glad to know there is an active debate in the ‘hood.

    • I agree. I love that this rock has become more colorful and fiesty the last few months. I look forward to my daily commute wondering what sort of creative liberties will be taken. Which ones will get me to stop and really look? I love this rock and the people who crawled out from underneath it to bring art and commentary to a little tiny piece of the beautiful bernal hill.

  2. I was thinking the blue was going to be adorned w., fluffy clouds a la suit on cover art of Prince for around the world in a day – I’m happy w., this purple also to honour his royal badness

  3. I’m so glad it was purple-ified. I walked past it a couple of days ago and was surprised to see the blue – I assumed someone would have painted it purple already. RIP, sweet Prince.

  4. I agree with Claire H!
    Though the Purple outcome is reverent and timely, it’s good that liberal tribes of Bernal are fired up enough about the democratic process to make some public art about it. Conversely, a bunch of fluffy clouds over blue would have been squarely in the indifferent / pablum / dumb art camp.

  5. Ha. My kid and I went by earlier this week and wondered aloud why it wasn’t purple yet. : )

  6. It does seem to me that once you say it is OK to paint on/over the rock as a means of personal expression, be it a color or message, it is impossible to control what the message should be.

    • The Rock is already great! The Rick can be better, sure, but it is already a really solid rock with a strong constitution.

  7. Count me as a “killjoy” if counting.
    It’s all graffiti.
    Go paint your fence or door or your face or have a political discussion with another human.
    Let the rock be the piece of natural, looking, piece of landscaping it was intended to be.

  8. This strikes me as so clever and beautifully executed that I don’t believe it was a spontaneous conversation. It seems like it was thought out and set up from the beginning. Still, planned or spontaneous, I like it!

  9. I find it detracts from the view. I go to the hill by that route and I’m going to relax and enjoy nature. I wish it looked like a rock. At this point, I wish the City would hall it away … before someone paints something truly divisive on it. I’ve never found it “festive” and I disagree that I’m a “killjoy”. One dude’s joy is another woman’s denigration of public space.

    One way to help resolve this would be if we all 311 the rock every time it’s painted. DPW does respond to 311s and doesn’t like to make repeated calls to the same location. It’s DPW property, even though it’s across from the park.

    • I agree. I use to love the rock in its natural state. This spot use to be a beautiful place to bring out-of-town visitors for a picture; not any more. The painted rock is ugly and it detracts from the view. I don’t understand how one person thinks they have the right to paint the rock; this is called graffiti. Some people may like it, just like there are some people who support graffiti, but there are others who do not. I’m really concerned that other areas of the park are going to be defaced as well and also think the City should consider removing the rock before that ever happens.

      • The city should consider getting rid of the billboards around town first, as they are corporate graffiti and more offensive to me than statements of our culture expressed by actual local people. Those of you that want the rock back to it’s natural state are free to make that statement by taking the paint off the rock.

      • I should clarify. When I said “Rather than a gold rock I prefer a blue rock” I meant that given those choices I’d prefer the blue rock. But I’d REALLY prefer no paint at all. Let the rock be a rock!

  10. Funny, you don’t see Republicans or Libertarians doing things like this. Liberals have become so adept at fascism that you’d think they had no idea what “liberal” actually means. Frankly, I’m tired of EVERYTHING being turned into Bernie versus Hillary.

    What’s more, in the end whoever wins the presidency isn’t going to matter much to the everyday lives of most of us. We’ll still wake up, shower, have breakfast, work, go home, hang with the family or whatever. And this is even true in war-torn places like Yemen. People still go about their daily lives in pretty much the same way no matter who is in power.

    Rather than a gold rock I prefer a blue rock.

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