San Francisco has a complicated relationship with advertising.
Sometimes San Franciscans hate itcalling it nothing but corporate propaganda. (Adbusters may be published in Vancouver but it left its heart in San Francisco). Other times, San Franciscans see advertising as an art form binding people together in a common experience that can serve a public marker reminding citizens of their shared past. The Board of Supervisors even had to create a "historic sign district" in order to keep a vintage Coca-Cola sign in Bernal Heights from being painted over.
Not to mention people in San Francisco love them some Mad Men (check out this map of the show's popularity in San Franciscans' Netflix queues)
When Mayor Ed Lee unveiled a series of restored advertising murals in the Tenderloin on Tuesday morning, nary a peep was heard from the anti-ad crowd.
The five muralswhich advertised Original Joe's Italian Food, United Railways Telegraph Schools, Hotel Warfield, Par-T-Pak Beverages and, of course, Coca-Colawere restored by a team of artists from Precita Eyes, a Mission-based mural arts organization. Take a look (story continues below):
"We're going to do more of this. If you look at this and see how refreshed it is, this is a wonderful resurgence of this whole community," Mayor Ed Lee said at the unveiling as he stood behind a book cart that had been rolled out to serve as a lectern.
The restoration was funded by a Community Challenge Grant and overseen by the nearby Tenderloin Housing Clinic, whose Executive Director Randy Shaw introduced the mayor and noted that Lee was one who initially approved grant when he was City Administrator.
The muralists peeled away layer after layer of old paint dating back to the 1930s to reveal signs that had been repeatedly painted for nearly a century. To show the progress over the years, the artists allowed the restored murals to overlap with each other.
"It’s kind of like they just splashed paint on there," said muralist Suaro Luis Cervantes of the original murals. "You could tell like some parts of the mural you could see there were drips everywhere."
Fortunately, Cervantes put a bit more care into his restoration of the murals than the original artists. He and his team restored five of the vintage advertisements near the corner of Taylor and Eddy.
The murals can be viewed from Taylor Street between Turk and Eddy.