Posts Tagged ‘Stencil Nation’

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.

S.F. NEIGHBORHOODS Graffiti marring much of city’s street art – vandalism on the rise
Matthai Kuruvila
Published 4:54 pm, Thursday, December 27, 2012

Read more:

Muralists around San Francisco say that they’ve seen an increase in vandalism of murals by taggers, who are defacing the art with their monikers.
Vandals have wrecked murals from North Beach to the Tenderloin. In the city’s liveliest mural zone, the Mission District, muralists say it’s been particularly bad. Street paintings made in months have been ravaged in seconds.

“There’s been a very specific mural destruction going on,” said Russell Howze, a muralist and author who does street art tours of the Mission District. “There’s really no logic. I don’t know if there’s any organization or conspiracy behind it. More than anything, these murals are well-loved and huge amounts of time have gone into them.”

Vandals this year have defaced parts of the Mission District’s Clarion Alley, a 20-year-old street museum of murals. “Gold Mountain,” a North Beach mural depicting Chinese history, had to be repainted when the building owners couldn’t keep it free of graffiti.


The Mission District: San Francisco’s Street Art

16 December 2012
Hanna Wolf
From the Fair Observer (link here)

Street Art – The Fun Loving Criminals?
For many decades, street artists have made San Francisco’s Mission District one of the most colourful and fascinating places to see [7], mirroring the city’s vibrant multiculturalism and diversity.

We are walking through some of the stinkiest alleys in San Francisco, yet still tourists from all over the world come here to take pictures and admire the street art gallery surrounding them. Whether huge murals, stickers on the floor or graffiti: art is all around in this area of the city.

Our tour guide Russell Howze, who offers street art tours through the Mission District, has been walking through these alleys for 15 years, and still he discovers new pieces. “Once you train your eyes, it’s everywhere” is what he tells us as he points at a street light covered with almost torn off stickers and scribbled words, which would normally never catch someone’s eyes as art.

The Higher, the Better

Walking through Mission and Valencia Street we come across walls with both illegal and legal graffiti, stencils and other street art styles. Comics as well as posters and abstract pieces look down on us from the left as we try to read a graffiti on the right. Unlike in European metropolises, in San Francisco trains are no major hotspots for graffiti. The sprayers here prefer trucks instead and almost every truck we pass during the tour wears at least a small graffiti tag.


Original Article Here.

Russell Howze has been enthralled with the street art of San Francisco for decades. He can instantly recognize the work of the city’s most prominent graffiti artists, and knows which Mission District alleys house the most memorable pieces. Howze, a stencil artist himself, maintains a website dedicated to street art, and has written a book on the subject.

As a general rule, graffiti doesn’t pay; Howze is driven by his love of the art form, not by profits. But with the help of a new startup called Vayable, he’s beginning to turn his passion into a career as a tour guide, helping travelers discover the hidden artworks on city buildings and sidewalks. “It’s starting to pay a lot of the bills,” he says. As his reputation grows, he hopes he may be able to turn his street art curator side gig into a full-time job.

Vayable is an online platform that helps travelers find new experiences led by local guides. “The company was born out of my own experiences as a traveler,” says founder and CEO, Jamie Wong. “I love going off the beaten path when I travel, and friends started asking me to create experiences for them to replicate my trips. I built the company to expand beyond my own experiences, and help everyone find that sense of cross-cultural exploration.”

Vayable launched with 70 guides in April 2011, and customers began booking experiences within the first hour of going live. Since then, the company’s been growing at a rate of 30 percent each week.

In San Francisco, Howze’s three-hour street art tour of the Mission District is a top seller; other popular experiences in the region include a sommelier-guided tour of Northern California wineries; a fishing excursion in the San Francisco Bay; and a guided biking tour through the city.

The concept marks a sea change from the traditional tourism industry, which is dominated by large companies that stick to tried-and-true tourist attractions. Vayable is dedicated to giving its users choices in how they want to experience an area, encouraging them to follow their own passions in planning a trip.

Though some guides had been offering professional tours independently prior to working with Vayable, many are new to the field. “Many of our guides are everyday people with access to special knowledge, or a community or space. We’re giving anybody the tools to build and curate an experience out of their interests or passions,” says Wong.

Vayable allows guides to set the prices for their tours, collecting a 15% commission on confirmed bookings. “Many of the guides are supplementing their income in really significant ways,” says Wong. “They love the flexibility. They can have a day job and then follow their passion when they’re not at work and supplement their income through Vayable, to help them pay the bills or afford a trip.”

The company is now offering experiences in over 600 cities on six continents, and growing every day. “With technology, there’s a whole new way to connect,” says Wong. “We’re using these online connections to power offline interactions, and to help travelers and locals alike find meaningful ways to connect with new communities.”

During my 2008/9 Stencil Nation book tour, I set up an event with Matteo Grieder at his art space Zeitvertrieb in Vienna, Austria. Matteo was nervous about the turnout (a common anxiety during my European tour), but I had Pod and Austrian artist Dieter Puntigam backing me up with live VJ and DJing. A nice crowd came for my presentation, bought books, ate and drank, and made a great scene for the event. Matteo was surprised and happy with the results.

A month ago, Matteo approached me with a request for photo submissions to his fun art zine “Artyfucked”. It is mostly a sketch zine, but he also features street art from cities around the world. Issue #8 features my stencil photos (the cream of the crop) from SF. They mostly cover 2011′s greatest hits. He also put them all in an online album.

Support a great project and buy a copy of “Artyfucked” today!

Blek le Rat, the “godfather” of stencil graffiti commemorates 30 years creating art on the streets with the launch of new retrospective from Art Publishing, Ltd.

This retrospective features the artist’s private family photos, point and shoot images of his graffiti artwork from around the world, and full-color reproductions of his gallery pieces. The book is separated into two distinct sections: “Street Art” and “Fine Art,” both of which are augmented by the writing of celebrated scholars, critics, experts in relevant fields, fellow artists, journalists, collectors and gallerists. Lavishly illustrated with more than 200 images, “Blek le Rat,” the 30 year anniversary retrospective offers the first full history of this seminal artist’s tradition and legacy, featuring:

Come Wander With Me!

Author: Russell

SF Weekly Promotes My Tour

Author: Russell

Original blog post here.

Graffiti Guru Offers Street Art Tours


art by Get Up, Upper Haight St.

​No matter how cool you are, there’s still a pretty good chance that the only thing you know about street art is sometimes you come across it, and sometimes it’s amazing. Who did it? What’s behind it? Where can you see more? Who knows?

We do. Or, we know who knows: stencil artist Russell Howze. He’s the author of Stencil Nation, and he offers a three-hour, small-group tour called Scout for Street Art. Howze just started giving these tours two weeks ago, and promises to provide “expert explanations, stories, and background for most of the art that constantly changes on the streets.” And he’s not joking about the “expert” part.

Russell Howze

​Howze has dedicated his life to street art, especially stencils, and he knows a lot about the S.F. street art scene. “I have this particular affinity for San Francisco street art,” Howze says, “especially Mission district — there’s something really special and magical about it.”

Originally from Greenville, S.C., Howze has lived in San Francisco since 1997. Since he saw his first stencil in 1990 in Clemson, S.C., Howze has been photographing the public art in places around the world. In 2002 he created an online stencil archive, which features tens of thousands of photos of stencils. Stencil Nation, published in 2008, is the paperback extension of his site, documenting 350 artists in 28 countries.

Howze does not have a fixed schedule for his tour — you can just sign up by yourself or in a group ($37) per person and state your preferred times. The tour is run through Vayable, a company that draws on locals to give their own tours. Anyone can sign up to offer a tour, and Vayable acts as the conduit, handling bookings and payments. Vayable operates worldwide, and as one might expect, it offers numerous S.F. tours, including horseback riding on Ocean Beach, a used bookstore crawl, and a potentially perilous “Whiskey on Wheels” tour.

Vayable hosts a mixer called “A Vayable Idea” on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Galeria de la Raza, where Howze will start the night with a 10-minute talk, “The Present Future of Street Art.” The event is free, but you can register here.

For well over 10 years now, I have been documenting stencils on Bruce Tomb’s wall on Valencia Street (If you search the Archives for "DAP" they will appear). I have also put art up there and enjoyed all the other art that I do not document. Tomb may not confess to actually owning this wall, because over the years it has become a wall of Free Speech for many artists, neighbors, and organizations. Some call it the Democracy Wall, but Tomb named it the (de)Appropriation Wall, especially since he resides in a former SF Police Department building. The building had a literally tortured past (Chicanos and Latinos were treated poorly by the mostly Irish police in the last century), and a bomb was placed at its back door during the violent era of radical factions in the Bay Area. Tomb decided to use the facade of this building as a force of freedom, more specifically of speech.

Tomb had a brief tussle with the City authorities over his free access to whomever wants to get up on this wall. When the City realized that it could potentially be a Constitutional matter, they backed down. The DAP wall shows up in my book "Stencil Nation" about half a dozen times. He has written about it in the book "Mission Muralismo," where it was featured. Before the book came out, some of the contributors had a show at ATA. I showed a slide presentation of Mission District stencils. Tomb showed the following video of the photographs he has taken over the years. I believe he stands in the same exact place about once a week and snaps a photo of the wall. Being a historian and documentor, I asked him to post this video for others to enjoy and analyze. For a reference of time, notice how the tree grows in front of the wall!

And for a better explanation of Tomb’s concepts and ideas around the wall, go to his site:

The (de)Appropriation Project Archive will be participating in the Theoretical Archaeology Group Meeting held at the University of California Berkeley from May 6-8, 2011.

Resident archaeologist on the project, Phoebe France will present a paper for session 15: Graffiti and the Archaeology of the Contemporary.

This is an exciting chance to present the project in a new context, and to get feedback on the most recent iterations of the web resources and tools. Please join us!

“Russell Howze is a native Greenvillian and a stencil artist. He runs the Stencil Archive and published the collection Stencil Nation: Community, Graffiti, and Art in 2008, documenting the work of over 350 artists from 28 countries. The Stencil Nation Book Tour will stop by the Warehouse Theatre Monday, December 20 at 7 PM.”

Check out the rest of the Create Greenville interview here. FaceBook invitation and info found here.

Cultural Encounters: Friday Nights at the de Young presents “Mission Muralismo” in partnership with Precita Eyes Muralists

Street Art San Francisco: Mission Muralismo series presents “Directional Signals:  Pranksters and Preachers, Paste and Stencil” featuring talks by Rigo, and John Jota Leaños.  Also, Jack Napier, BLF co-founder, and Milton Rand, Kalman BLF chief scientist, will give a presentation titled “The Art and Science of Billboard Improvement,” plus stencil cutting demonstration by Russell Howze author of Stencil Nation: Graffiti, Community and Art.

Friday, May 7, 6–8:45 pm
Live music in Wilsey Court: Marcus Shelby Quartet featuring vocalist Faye Carol performing the MLK project, 6:30-8:30 pm

de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park

Programs are free of charge and

On Friday, May 7, the de Young Museum presents another dynamic program, luminous projections, and book signing in the ongoing series Mission Muralismo, in conjunction with the recently published book Street Art San Francisco: Mission Muralismo, edited by Annice Jacoby for Precita Eyes Muralists, foreword by Carlos Santana (Abrams, 2009).  The evening focuses on the talent and passionate work of major contributors to the book: Rigo, John Jota Leaños, Russell Howze, Jack Napier Billboard Liberation Front (BLF) co-founder, and Milton Rand Kalman BLF chief scientist.

Whew, what a spin I’m in at the moment. Friday afternoon, after a carnival gig in the Mission, I headed over to the de Young museum to speak with Renee about my stencil bit for the Mission Muralismo event coming up Friday, May 7. The theme is “Preachers and Pranksters,” so I guess that stencils fit nicely somewhere in both of those angles. Their political bent preaches messages, and some of the more notorious street artists throw up the stencils in prankish ways.

The Mission Muralismo team has had three or four events at the de Young over just as many months. They’ve found that they book speakers for 20 minute talks and end up going over their short allotted time, much to the chagrin of the rest of the lineup. So they approached me with the idea to NOT speak about stencils. I offered to create a stencil making station, but they didn’t like the idea of putting me outside and away from all the action (Marcus Shelby will perform his jazz composition about famous preacher Martin Luther King, Jr., RIGO will introduce the speakers, including the Billboard Liberation Front). So I worked out a second idea with them: I’ll sit in a booth and cut a stencil before the speakers begin. I’ll hang samples of stencils behind me, and then photos of Mission District-based stencils will run in the auditorium. So I met with Renee from the de Young and we worked out most of the details. I love cutting stencils in public, so it’ll be a fun, quick bit.

I got home after that and got a call from Laura telling me that there was a Banksy stencil on the wall above the Amnesia Bar. What? Looked in my email after that call and found a video of a definite Banksy stencil at Commercial and Grant in Chinatown. What!? I dropped all plans, hopped on my bike, and hauled ass down to Chinatown first, thinking “this one’s on the street and will get buffed soon!” I found the location by pausing the emailed video and seeing “CIAL” on the concrete curb. Got there and found people already photographing the stencil. A huge Hummer was parked in front of it, so I began the shoot by contemplating climbing on the huge SUV.

Glad I didn’t. Maybe five minutes passed and the owner of the SUV got in and drove away. With this lucky parking space opening up, I had a great straight-on angle for snapping up pics. I chatted up some men as they snapped up pics, and one said he knew the bakery owner’s son (the Chinatown piece is on the outside wall of a bakery). The son said that Banksy paid his parents $50 to spray the stencil. A piece of paper has Chinese writing on it, with a hand-written note asking to please not paint over the Banksy art. A friend from Taiwan translated the Chinese for me, apparently written via an online English>Chinese translation tool. The sign said: “Please don’t erase this graffiti. It’s said that police are  investigating this case. You can erase by the end of next week, end of April.”

Back on the bike and straight down Market St. I was wondering where else in the City Banksy had hit. They could be anywhere! The Luggage Store Gallery door happened to be open. I have been needing to meet with Luggage Store Art Director Laurie Lazer so that I could get a copy of “Stencil Nation” to her, which I didn’t have due to running out to snap pics. I went inside anyway, to show her the flicks and to see if she had any leads on Banksy. She had none, though heard that he may have wandered into the gallery the day before. She’d just sold a Banksy panel, cut in two, to raise funds for the gallery, and said that he knew about this. After promising to meet with her next week, I went to Amnesia Bar for the second piece.

People were already snapping photos. After getting some photos, I met up with Christine Marie, and wandered in to an empty Amnesia Bar at happy hour. We both sorta knew Shawn the owner, and he sorta remembered us. I asked him for some time up on the roof, and he said he’d have to make a phone call. I told him that he’d be doing the City, and the street art world, a great service if he let me up there to snap some pics for the Stencil Archive.

Woke up Saturday morning and got an email from Shawn soon after breakfast. He was offering rooftop access for a small group of videographers and photographers, for 30 minutes only. Amnesia Bar has a testy neighbor, who had to give permission to have some people up near his windows next door, which I understand. As I prepared to hit the Mission again, word online said that there was a large rat on 9th St. at Howard in SoMa. Another spot! Where else could these pieces keep popping up? I packed my laptop for this trip, with the plan of stopping off in a cafe to quickly post the rooftop photos.

I got there early and the bar’s manager climbed up onto the roof with me. Two rickety ladders led us up there, and a French videographer was winding things up on the hot, white roof. While up there, I met Mike Cuffe from He’d broken the story on the web, and was now spending his Saturday following a list of locations to shoot. I also spoke to a nieghbor, who waved a copy of “Wall and Piece” at us and told me he was devastated that he’d missed Banksy in action right outside his own back door. Cuffe had tipped me off about a fourth piece on the side of Cafe Prague on Sycamore at Mission St., so I shared that with the grateful neighbor. After thanking the Amnesia folks downstairs, I biked over to Sycamore.

When I showed up to the Cafe Prague piece, a van blocked the art work on the brown, graffiti’d wall. Damn! Time to get creative again in order to snap the Native American sitting on the ground holding a staff with an real “No Trespassing” sign on the top. Just as I started snapping pics, a young couple came up and unlocked the van. “Are you all leaving?” I asked. “I am,” the woman said. She pulled out, and I had another magic parking space to stand in to get perfect shots of the art! Twice in under 24 hours? What luck.

A blog post had an incorrect location, so people were at Dolores Park looking for the work, but people were finding out the real location via phones with online social connections. I chatted with folks, passed out cards, and watched the frenzy. San Francisco openly loves technology. Online chatter seemed to be frantically discussing these pieces as movie promotions, and so people were tweeting, FaceBooking, and blogging away pics and text about the Banksy easter eggs across San Francisco. Being the most obsessed stencil photographer in the City, I left Sycamore and went to a cafe on Valencia to try to scoop everyone with the rooftop pics and the No Trespassing pics.

As I sipped iced tea on a sunny April day, I posted my best shots on FaceBook and Flickr. I put them in all the stencil and street art groups on Flickr, and spread them around on FaceBook. I then put them on Stencil Archive. After having scooped the first pics, I’m sure has major traffic, but it seemed that my corner of Stencil Nation was scooped by yours truly.

Ah, to be wound up in a spiral of Banksy mania, screaming like a rabid teenybopper Beatles fan. You’d think Obama was in town, speaking to the starry-eyed masses, who in turn wrote and posted every last detail of their experience on the Internet social sites. Call me a sucker, but I know that street art can quickly disapear, so snapping pics must happen asap. (Blogs are reporting that Banksy’s fresh piece in LA has already been taken down by professional art experts.)

Back on the bike to head to SoMa to snap the rat. Once I grabbed some photos (not much of a crowd there), I spoke to some of the local store employees about rooftop access. Struck out on four locations and got a nibble on a fifth. Sent emails to the manager tonight and after two bounces, found another email address for him online. Fingers crossed.

Came back tonight to see that a fifth and sixth stencil has been documented. either held back on the Erie at Mission (near 14th St.) piece or found out after I saw him at Amnesia. He has since posted flicker pics of that one, which has a bird on a tree. The other piece is the same large rat from SoMa, with a different punchline. So back down to the Mission I go tomorrow to snap up the Erie piece.

With the flights screwed up between USA and Europe, I wonder if Banksy is going to just stay in North America and tear shit up while he cools his heels during the flight ban? I also wonder if he got my email telling him that CELLspace is fair game? And finally, I wonder who he’s with and where he’s staying? I have theories, but it’s all fantastical and just plain fanboyish. When I said years ago that I as a Certified Stencil Geek, I wasn’t kidding!

Let the frenzy continue….