Vandals impair public art efforts

San Francisco artist Jason Hailey, also known as Chor Boogie, thought he had suffered enough after he was stabbed while painting a 100-foot-long mural commissioned by The City on Market Street.

But after recovering from the Nov. 7 attack, Hailey returned to the Mid-Market neighborhood to finish the mural and discovered that a vandal had spray-painted a long line clear across his artwork.

“I thought getting stabbed was enough,” Hailey said.

More than the attack, The artist said he’s expressly concerned that vandals would try to ruin The City’s attempts to improve the crime-ridden, downtrodden Mid-Market neighborhood.

In an effort to stave off blight during the recession, city officials gave Hailey and other local artists grant money to fill vacant storefronts and other public spaces.The City spent $50,000 on 20 Arts in Storefronts projects, including two murals that were placed in historically blighted neighborhoods such as Central Market, the Bayview, Tenderloin and Mission districts. Those funds also paid for marketing, cleanup and artist fees.

But vandals are upending the effort. Since the program launched in late October, two storefront windows on Market Street have been smashed in addition to Hailey’s mural being vandalized, the Arts Commission reported.

The artwork wasn’t stolen, but had to be removed from the damaged storefronts, public art project manager Kate Patterson said.

Another piece of public art in the Tenderloin called “Fight for your Neighborhood” has also suffered some vandalism, she said.

Attacks on public art were rampant last year. The City “experienced an unprecedented spike in vandalism on its public monuments,” Patterson said.

The commission receives $15,750 annually for care and maintenance of The City’s 3,300 artistic objects — including 800 that are outdoors. Funds were depleted midway through last fiscal year due to the spike in vandalism, Patterson said.

Graffiti not only creates blight, but costs taxpayers more than $20 million annually, according to city estimates.

The attacks on public art will not deter Hailey, who has already fixed his mural and says it will take more than a few stab wounds to sway his goal of turning Mid-Market into an arts center.

“You have criminals … that just want to ruin it for everybody,” he said.


Arts in Storefronts

Project Period: October through Feb. 1

Central Market and Tenderloin launch: Oct. 23

Third Street launch: Oct. 30; 4 to 6 p.m.

Lower 24th Street launch: Nov. 20

Total art projects: 20

Total cost thus far for program: $50,000, which included storefront cleanup, art installations, artist fees, marketing and project management, and Web site development

Source: San Francisco Arts Commission

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