The Internet look is all about flat. So I cleaned up the Stencil Archive logo for the 2014 redesign

The Internet look is all about flat. So I cleaned up the Stencil Archive logo for the 2014 redesign

HappyFeet’s sister site, Stencil Archive, continues to thrive amongst the street art webstreams. HappyFeet began  in 2002 when my stencil photograph selection grew to a point where I felt the need to scan and upload to share and share alike. Last week, Stencil Archive saw the 20,000th uploaded photo, which has been dwarfed in size by corporate sites like Flickr. Back in 2002, a simple Google search brought up maybe 6 sites, none of which were covering the growing, pre-Banksy scene.  Stencil Archive met the need and many sites soon followed. Now they are all vaguely “street art” sites. Stencil Archive is still 100% all about stencils!

While the photo uploads ticked to 20k, I was working on a site redesign with Justin Fraser at Mission Web Works. No one buys computers or laptops anymore, right? Then why the hell isn’t Stencil Archive easy to see and navigate for all the smart phones and tablets out there? Justin and I took care of this major barrier to enjoying the site. Apple’s Jony Ive really pumped up the flat design craze with iOS7, so I redid the Stencil Archive logo, favicon, and homepage icon (yep, you can save a cool app-like button on your phone’s homepage to easily access the stencils) for this 2014 reboot. Read the rest of this entry »

I spraypainted Scot t Williams's huge gorilla on the back door of 2010. It is gone (as is the piece that replaced it) due to tagging.

I spraypainted Scott Williams’s huge gorilla on the back door of 2010. It is gone (as is the piece that replaced it) due to tagging.

Almost to the day today, I arrived in San Francisco in 1997 with two suitcases (one full of camping gear) and a vague idea of what I wanted to accomplish in the City by the Bay. The words that kept bouncing around in my head were: diversity, creativity, and adventure. I had no idea there as a dot com boom and that the vacancy rate was under 1%. I didn’t even know what a vacancy rate was! I did know that I wanted to be part of something amazing, and if possible, somehow create amazing cultural bits that others enjoyed.

In 1998, I started volunteering for CELLspace, which at the time was a funky underground artist warehouse with folks who had a similar vision that the one I was chewing on. Years later, I tried to move on and open my time and life up to other amazing projects. So CELL got put on the backburner, until 2008. That was a crucial year for CELL, now a nonprofit with paid employees. While on the road touring for the book and for the Conscious Carnival, word started getting back to me that CELL was financially imploding. I wasn’t surprised.

Then I got a call from Jane and Tony Verma, two long-time Metal Shop artists, asking me to help them curate a stencil exhibit on the facade of CELL. Things were bad at the time and CELL’s doors were shut (all the employees and most of management were very far away from the space) due to no one being there to maintain and run things. But the Metal Shop was still holding their cluster together. The Metal Shop designed and built an amazing metal window-covering mural, complete with space in the bottom for showing art. They had reached out to a few artists in Stencil Nation, but needed more. Stencilada was born, and thus began my final run of volunteering for CELL. Read the rest of this entry »

Time for strategic media analysis with Dr. Podinski and the XLt spectacle spectrometer

Time for strategic media analysis with Dr. Podinski and the XLt spectacle spectrometer

If you spend any time, even mere nanoseconds, complaining about today’s culture (or lack thereof), then perhaps spend an evening with the experts! XLterrestrials is a group of specialists who specialize in speaking on the spectacle. Let’s just say that the XLt analysis peels back the layers of the tubes we so easily wrap ourselves around… with cultural clips from the fringes of the ctrl+alt+dalek worldz….

From their show propaganda coming up this Sept., they lay it on us:

An arts and activism show out of Europe, which focuses on digital culture in this extremely precarious and dubious era of predatory corporate capitalism + technotopian extremism. The program examines the technological landscapes which are rapidly shaping civilizations often with undemocratic agendas, questionable results and disturbing trends.

See you all at No Nothing, Sept 18th….

Dream: 2.14.14

Author: Russell

Eating at a restaurant with E.

Cash only and I don’t have enough, though I have a large bag full of play money, Chinese funeral money, etc.

I dig in the bag looking for enough to pay.

The restaurant has toilet problems so the waitress says I can help fix the toilet to make up the difference I owe.

While eating a tempeh appetizer, a man begins to talk to E. in another room.

ED shows up and then they all walk away.

I eat my tempeh quickly, just as my beet sandwich arrives. Trying to leave I stuff my bag behind a door and eat the sandwich as I walk in the direction they headed.

I see a large wooden deck, and, walking on to it, I see a huge rolling water park beyond the deck.

When was there a water park in San Francisco?

I look into the crowds and cannot find E, ED, and the man that led them away.

I start walking around to look for them and get turned around. Lost. Confused.

I get my phone out to try to call E., and it doesn’t work. I then forget E.’s name, and begin to cray.

I decide to leave the water park and only walk around in circles. Down ramps that lead nowhere. Down steps that lead to private dressing areas and private baths. Up ramps that lead to large bodies of water (I’m wearing my PJs so cannot swim away).

At an open lawn, I’m totally disoriented. I see a worker and ask her how to get out of the park. She looks at me with anime eyes and speaks gibberish.

Two co-workers walk up and have the same distant look. One of them speaks gibberish too.

“I see that you’re no help.”

I turn around to leave and one of the workers walks over to me.

She points over to a crowded area of the park.

“Do you see that whit Buddha Statue?”

Dreams: 11.1.13

Author: Russell

There’s a last minute film festival in San Francisco, Berlin, and Sofia. All the brass bands and amazing films will be in Sofia. Berlin will have great parties too. San Francisco will show animated films with icing. They will mostly be about recovery. One film is about algae bread and how it is helping to feed the homeless and hungry. It is animated by putting icing on bread.


Buying a new car – a truck – in a big field. The people running the lot don’t have keys so I keep calling the person who does. It’s getting late and I still can’t get in to the truck. MC and his brothers are on the property. MC doesn’t leave his truck because of his dogs. There are beautiful trails on the property. The field only recently got the car lot. Land is being cut back above one trail. Other familiar faces work at the car lot.

Dream: 1.10.13

Author: Russell

Drunks in Safeway by Golden Gate Bridge

blocking the exit

some really drunk, with a limitless credit card

playing an Atari 2600 on the flower counter

while talking about graffiti

The SFPD break up their party.

I speak with a policewoman as she tries to cuff a large woman.

The police haul the drunks away, leaving only graffiti on the floor at the entrance to Safeway.

Near the bridge, I hear people , and some of them walk by and give me a box that contains a recording.

They ask me to put it on a website, and they begin to illegally climb up the bridge.

I follow them a bit and then back off, realizing I’m still wearing my PJs.

I go down and pass a Golden Gate Transit worker, staring at a camera monitor.

I wander away from the bridge along a trail, passing a fisherman eating a sandwich while sitting in his boat.

I approach a huge elevator, go inside, and run into a friend.

We talk about porn, and other people join in.

I look out the lift and see an amazing view of the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

The ride ends so I exit with groceries and bags of stuff. I rebag it all and see:

a pistol, an Atari 2600 game cartridge, and three bags.

I strike up a conversation with a cool woman.


SFWeekly Best Of

 Best Way to see the Mission Before it’s Annexed to Google – 2013

Scout for Street Art Walking Tour

Russell Howze describes his tour as a “three hour zigzag through the Mission District.” For fans of street art, or anyone curious about the changing city, it’s a zigzag worth taking. Howze has been chronicling the stencils, tags, murals and graffiti that decorate San Francisco for 15 years, and is the author of the street art tome Stencil Nation. His tour explores alleys that will be new to residents and tourists alike, and keeps an eye on the shifting cultural tides of the neighborhood. “Urban landscapes are always changing,” Howze said, pointing out that while many of the tech workers moving into the Mission appreciate street art, they also bring security cameras and fences.

2013 SF Weekly Best Of Winner....

2013 SF Weekly Best Of Winner….

Hands in mud

Author: Russell

I feel the realness of an earth unfolding

Steam rises into bright white sky

And sweat beads and drips down my back -

off my nose.

The hands stuck, sinking

Getting closer to the moist dust of the universe

The muck of the mess we’ve left behind.

But, with eyes closed,

I can only see your caring face.

Shin deep you pull me up

and out of soggy life’s bottom

Hands freed, I hold you

touching neck and waist

beads of steam reflect off your wild hair

wind blows away and away and away

And together with wishes

Hoping for an end of the epoch of mud

the clouds float over uncaring.

There may be rain at some point,

smiling. stained. breathing.

And wondered where the rats,

the ones with antenna in their ears,

I wondered where the rats were.

Then walk on down to Pepe’s Opera,

mesmerized by the burning idols,

and I jumped through the fire -

Jumped through the wall of fire.

And then stood on the counter

staring at the orphaned mountain,

burning light night sky,

flames dancing through trees.

Motions past and touches present

Hand firmly on your hip

feeling the dreams

of gas cans and siphon hoses.

Tasting bitterness and heat,

remembering your hair,

touching my cheek,

and I touched your hair.

Thinking again of slices

shifting in where rats take calls

and only finding rattled bones

once overgrown by kudzu.

An Obituary for CELLspace

Author: Russell

Written by Devin Holt (I pitched in with info, editing, and whatnot)

CELLspace, community arts center, closed its doors at the end of 2012.

During the late 90s and early aughts, there was no better place to see the Mission District’s artistic, multicultural vibe than CELLspace. San Francisco prankster Chicken John was known to decorate the 10,000 square foot warehouse as a Las Vegas casino; the Flaming Lotus Girls created their first large scale fire installations in the CELLspace Metal Shop, and during Carnaval, the space would burst at the seams from the ritual drumming, colorful rattling costumes and sheer number of teenagers involved in groups like Loco Bloco and Danza Azteca.

Michael Sturtz was so impressed by CELLspace that he named his industrial arts school, The Crucible, after their art gallery.

“The name was inspired by the Crucible Steel Gallery, which was the CELLspace gallery at the time,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

In the Facebook worlds, posting all this stuff is instant, and friends find things and post them. I take the trouble to pull things off of there for the Stencil Archive, my own archives, etc. and then maybe, just maybe, post it on here. I forget that some friends don’t do Facebook! And I have to remind myself that this blog belongs to me, as opposed to a multi-billion dollar corporation that is currently dot com booming the Bay Area. This site is also a great, long archive of my life here in San Francisco.

So back in late January, Regan Ha-Ha Tamanui stopped over on his way back to New Zealand and Australia. He’d been traveling the world for a year, but got stuck in Berlin for eight months. How unlucky. I got him four walls here in SF, and he took my photo after a day of wandering around the Tenderloin looking at street art. He cut a stencil portrait out of that photo, as well as the photo he took of my friend Monica that evening in Hayes Valley.

Icy and Sot, expats from Iran who now live in Brooklyn (leave Iran to have a street art show, go back to Iran and get arrested for satanism) were driving through. They all took my tour and I got them two walls to paint on. Regan collaborated with them. Icy and Sot came back to SF for an art show at a Noise Pop concert. I missed it (always seem to miss the good art shows!).

Here are photos from early Feb, with the stencil portraits thrown in.

Stupid, Again

Author: Russell

Spring time. Cherry blossoms. Nuns in drag. Giants baseball. And St. Stupids Day.

April 1 is always a day to look forward to. Yelling “Jump! Jump! Jump!” up to workers gawking out their windows is worth the bus fare down to join the First Church of the Last Laugh at Justin Herman Plaza. While infill condos continue to rake the skyline across the city (i.e., Dot Com 2.0), some things thankfully never change. Here’s a snap of me at the XXXV St. Stupid’s Day Parade (by Hanna Quevedo for the SFWeekly).

While I’m posting photos, here’s a portrait of me that Garry Bowden took for his Souls of San Francisco project