Bigoted Graffiti Mars New College Hill Mural


Last weekend, your Bernalwood editor stopped by Mission Street near the corner of Appleton just as artist Josh Talbott was putting some finishing touches on the mural he’d been commissioned to create by the College Hill Neighborhood Association.

It was a warm day, and Josh was working in the shade while his dog relaxed on the sidewalk. His mural is a photorealistic image of a hand holding a small glass sphere, and it looked great:


Yesterday, Bernalwood received several reports that the new College Hill mural had been defaced with graffiti. Neighbor Kim wrote:

I recently admired a photo of the new utility closet mural going up on Mission south of Randall. A friend says the artist is this dude who was apparently a refugee from Hurricane Katrina. Another friend tells me the mural was just defaced with the phrase “No hipster art.” Gentrification of aesthetics? Nativist extremism demands we all enjoy only murals of fetuses with sun glowing from their nether regions? What?

Neighbor Matt said:

This was a blank wall of peeling paint. Then it was a nice mural. Then someone who’s a) a jerk and b) has an inane argument if you can call it that, defaced it.

Neighbor Caro lives near the mural. She describes how she was awakened late Tuesday night by the sound of a man screaming:

This pisses me off. Josh Talbott Fineart is improving this community. He’s painting at Mission St and Appleton, and [Tuesday] night around 1.20-1.30am my dog started barking because a guy was screaming slurs against white people and hipsters.

On the bright side, Neighbor Caro shared a follow-up  today to say that the mural has already been restored:

Glad to see this morning this!!! Such a great job this community is doing to keep things beautiful!

She also shared this photo, taken this morning:


PHOTOS: Top, graffiti by Neighbor Matt. Josh Tabott at work by Telstar Logistics. Restored mural by Neighbor Caro.


24 thoughts on “Bigoted Graffiti Mars New College Hill Mural

  1. Glad to read that this beautiful mural was completed.. It definitely brightens up the area. Too bad the other murals in the district are not as stunning; if anything, they look more like bad graffiti than good art. Thank you neighbors Josh for your taking on this project, and to Caro for looking out for the neighborhood. Shame on the person who defaced this, especially with his racist comments. What has he done to improve the neighborhood?! Probably nothing.

  2. Glad to hear it’s been restored. An unhappy mind creates an unhappy human…so very much more happening around our City…

  3. Thanks for this post. I walked over to see the mural a few minutes ago–really nice. Glad to see it’s been quickly restored.

  4. The mildly racist snark against the Precita Eyes Commissioned murals on this blog are unbelievable. That said, I like this mural and don’t like that it got defaced. But really — “Looks like bad graffiti?” Shut up.

    • Yeah, quite true: the anti-Precita Eyes energy here definitely borders on racist / bigoted. Not all of it, but definitely some of it. “Nativist extremism demands we all enjoy only murals of fetuses with sun glowing from their nether regions?” is really an incredibly ignorant statement. Think about what you’re saying, friend!

    • Sorry, but I kinda laughed at the “murals of fetuses with sun glowing from their nether regions” line. Cliche is endemic to all media (and all cultures).

    • Everyone’s a critic…one person trash is another persons treasure…yadda yadda

      On that note, some of the Precita Eyes murals are really (subjectively, of course) bad. I mean, look at that one on the wall of Walgreens at Cesar Chavez & Mission. What is going on there? It would be great if they were trying to represent the trans community, but I’m going to take a shot in the dark and say that wasn’t intentional

  5. The graffiti is terrible and I’m also glad what looks like an awesome mural has already been restored. Bravo!

    But I am curious: what about the graffiti was racist? I’m not even sure it’s bigoted, actually — it’s not obviously “against” hipsters, it’s just against “hipster art.” We don’t know that the person yelling in the middle of the night is the same person who did the graffiti (for all we know, he was some crazy guy who happened upon the graffiti that was already there and that caused him to go off), but even if it is the same person, I’m not sure that yelling slurs against whites and hipsters is enough to qualify as a racist, especially in the US and especially in SF. Bigoted, maybe, but that still strikes me as a stretch.

    Don’t get me wrong: the mural is no place for any sort of graffiti, whether racist, political, bigoted, awesome, or whatever. But I’m against the graffiti because it’s graffiti on a mural, not because of a belief that it’s racist or bigoted.

    • I agree completely. I found the use of the word “bigoted” in the headline to be ridiculous. How do you get that what seems to be an angry response to gentrification (which has real negative consequences for lower income mostly people of color) is bigotry? Don’t have enough reasons in your life to feel like a victim so you have to manufacture them?

  6. I get that “hipster” is just a catch-all epithet for anything someone doesn’t like, but objectively, the only hipster shit I see on that wall is the red spray paint.

  7. Thank you for your awesome art Josh! I hope my dog can start getting along better with Beetle the Dog when you two have a couple of pops at St. Mary’s Pub after a day of work.

  8. Look, I’m glad the graffiti was removed but man, that mural is ugly. It makes no sense and really doesn’t fit into the neighborhood at all.

    • It makes “sense” if you were part of the college hill neighbor’s community and took part in the voting process . We picked this mural. It is about exploration – finding gems, like our bernal cut path.

      I find your comment about it being “ugly” quite a reach for some kind of statement along the same lines as the person who defaced the mural with anti-hipster ranting. Aesthetics are subjective. I will give you *that* much. But if this is ugly to you, I don’t know what to say about your aesthetics. Heck, your taste even.

      Did you ever notice this building before ? Most of you have not.

      My guess is that the ranting person was one of the homeless who liter the cut and live back there. The backside of this mural is literally a toilet. It is possible that these humans using the building as toilet there were upset that their ugly building was made pretty. It is probably the same people who are marking up the brand new concrete railings along the path and highland bridge.

      If anyone is unaware the lavender patch near that bus stop is Newoms “garden.”

  9. I am so glad to see that it’s been restored. I was very pleased to see the mural up last week– really striking and unique. Clean and eyecatching. I admit to a kneejerk reaction of “oh, geez, another one?” when I hear about yet another mural project, as they have started to get quite junky-ubiquitous-uncreative. This, though? Really, really nice job. If anything good has come from the graffiti, it’s that I now know it’s Josh who is to thank for this work. So, thanks, Josh!

  10. What was being expressed in that graffito was not really about hipsters or race, or about art. I was a bleat of pain by someone who’s feeling wounded and powerless. Not that that excuses or enobles such selfishness in any way, but it means that taking the gesture personally is an emotional reaction as misplaced as what’s expressed by the defacement.
    The person who did that was saying, “I feel powerless; I feel worthless; I feel alone, and I want everyone else to feel as bad as I do; I’m incapable of taking responsibility for my own emotions so I’m projecting them out onto others and thereby playing the role of victim; which means I’ll just keep feeling this shitty until the day I choose to take responsibility for the life I’m living and the emotional reactions I’m generating in reaction to it .”

    • Ug…someone send a wambulance. Everyone has issues but not everyone goes and defaces someone else’s property because of it. Not to mention you’re making some big assumptions. Maybe this person was depressed, maybe they felt “powerless,” or maybe they were an impulsive adolescent showing off for their friends. In the end, what does it matter. They have issues and we all have to suffer because of it.

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