Museum Hours
Thu: 1 PM–8 PM
Fri–Mon: 10 AM–5 PM
Tue–Wed: Closed
200 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

Village Artist Corner

The Village Artist Corner is a project of the Asian Art Museum and San Francisco Public Library that features rotating murals and monthly programs at the dragon sculpture between the two buildings on the corner of Fulton and Larkin Streets. The program was developed as part of Groundplay, a City collaboration co-led by the Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation, San Francisco Planning, and the San Francisco Arts Commission. Murals rotate annually. Read about the 2021 mural project, The Journey (سفر), below.

The Journey (سفر)

The Journey (سفر) is inspired by “The Conference of Birds” (“Mantegh o Teir”), a Persian poem by 12th-century Iranian Sufi poet Farid ud-Din Attar, also known as Attar Neyshaburi. In the poem, a hoopoe, a bird common in Africa, Asia, and Europe, leads the other birds on a journey to find the truth of life from Simurgh, a mythical bird in Iranian mythology and literature. At the end of the journey, the birds discover that the truth they were looking for is within themselves, and together, they are the Simurgh. 

The poem and the mural reflect the seven valleys that each individual travels in a quest to find answers among the chaos of life. It begins with love and compassion, which encourage new ways of being. The poem asks the questions: How can we understand this life? Why are we in this world and on this journey? What is our role in this life? How did our ancestors perceive this life? What are our perceptions of truth? 

From love, The Journey (سفر) leads us to look for wisdom, asking who or what has the knowledge or understanding to guide us throughout this journey? How can we detach ourselves from the material world? How can we forgive and let go of things we are not able to control? How can we find this understanding within ourselves? And how can this wisdom lead us to be united, to stand together, to be as one, disregarding our differences? How do we find this light and realize we are part of the whole, and all one in the universe, made from the same material? Finally, the poem leads us to understand that each of us is a reflection of the other.

  • The Valley of Quest
  • The Valley of Love and Compassion
  • The Valley of Understanding, Wisdom
  • The Valley of Independence and Detachment
  • The Valley of Unity
  • The Valley of Wondering, Astonishment, and Bewilderment
  • The Valley of Nothingness

This mural was created in conversation with the residents of the Fulton Street Safe Sleeping Village and Urban Alchemy. 

About the Artists

Keyvan Shovir is a Bay Area–based Iranian American multidisciplinary artist and muralist. As a pioneer of street art in Tehran, he used Persian calligraphy and poetry to addressed social and political issues. His sculptural sound installations, murals, and paintings explore the poetic experience of the current political situation with narration rooted in Persian literature, history, myth, and language and today’s pop culture. Shovir received his B.A. in painting from Azad Tabriz University of Tabriz, Iran, and his M.F.A. from California College of the Arts in San Francisco. He has received many awards and has exhibited nationally and internationally at venues including the Seyhoun Gallery in Tehran, SOMArts Culture Center and Minnesota Street Project in San Francisco, and Graffik Gallery in London.

Shaghayegh Cyrous is a Bay Area–based Iranian American multidisciplinary and social practice artist and curator. She creates poetic multimedia installations and interactive performances focusing on cross-cultural communication and translation strategies, addressing predicaments of estrangement and distance caused by political and cultural power dynamics. Cyrous received her B.A. in visual arts from Science and Culture University in Tehran and her M.F.A. in social practice from California College of the Arts in San Francisco. She has exhibited and performed internationally at venues including the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Saba Museum of Tehran, Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, Jane Addams Hull-House Museum in Chicago, British Museum in London, and the Anchorage Museum in Anchorage, Alaska.

Past Murals

Flower Interruption
Jun–Oct 2017

Artist Megan Wilson with poetry by Maw Shein Win

Megan Wilson is a visual artist based out of San Francisco. Wilson’s large-scale installations and public projects utilize a broad range of pop culture methodologies and aesthetics as a point of entry and engagement for the issues she addresses conceptually. She’s used traditional crafts, interior design, and sign painting to explore the meanings of “home” and “homelessness”; public murals and street art as a strategy for challenging corporate values and the surface aesthetics of capitalism; public video projections as an alternative to corporate messaging; and performance through the embodiment of a bright-pink, cuddly pig with a big grin to represent corporate criminals, doling out their “Lies,” “Toxic Debt,” and “Dirty Tricks.” Her project 99% used hand-painted signs as a form of viral messaging in support of the Occupy movement, as well as a model for providing a livable wage for labor. In addition to the United States, Wilson has created projects in Bali, Indonesia; Tokyo, Japan; Yogyakarta, Indonesia (transit project); Yogyakarta, Indonesia (mural project); Jaipur, India; and Manila, Philippines.

Maw Shein Win is a Burmese American poet, editor and educator who lives and works in the Bay Area. Her writing has appeared in many journals and several anthologies, including Cimarron Review, Fanzine, Eleven Eleven, the Fabulist and Cross-Strokes: Poetry Between Los Angeles and San Francisco (Otis Books/Seismicity Editions). She was artist in residence at Headlands Center for the Arts and is a member of the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. She often collaborates with visual artists, musicians and other writers. Her poetry chapbook with paintings by artist Mark Dutcher, Ruins of a glittering palace, was published by SPA/Commonwealth Projects. Her most recent poetry chapbook, Score and Bone (Nomadic Press), was nominated for a CLMP Firecracker Award. She is the first poet laureate of El Cerrito.

Oct 2017–Jan 2018

Artists Jason Wyman, Mary-Claire Amable and Celi Tamayo-Lee with Asian Art Museum Art Speak high school interns

#StickyQuestions is a civic / creative inquiry and evolving visual / digital installation by artists Mary-Claire Amable, Celi Tamayo-Lee, and Jason Wyman that invites us to question ourselves, each other, and the world in which we live, work, create and move.

#StickyQuestions partners with existing organizations, programs, institutions, artists, events and initiatives to curate participatory pop-ups, asking questions that encourage participants to express their on answers multi-colored stickers. The stickers are then added to the Living Innovation Zone creating a community response wall that invites curiosity and learning more about one’s neighbors.

#StickyQuestions is a flexible, yet structured project that can be shaped by the needs of the partner. Started as a response to a commission by the Asian Art Museum as part of their Art/Lit Living Innovation Zone (LIZ), #PrayersAbove has also partnered with SFBATCO, CounterPulse, Sunday Streets, Downtown Streets Team, Central City SRO Collaborative, and Miss TANGQ and Jyun Jyun. As a result, #StickyQuestions has become a youth arts project, a professional development program for street outreach workers, a set design element for multi-media performance and a healing arts space rooted in bearing witness.

For the Asian Art Museum, artists Amable, Tamayo-Lee and Jason Wyman are working with their Art Speak high school internship program to teach social practice art engagement, public installation, and neighborhood-based inquiry. The result completed project of which will be installed in October 2017 at the museum’s Art/Lit LIZ on the corner of Larkin and Fulton streets.

#StickyQuestions at the LIZ is a project of 14 Black Poppies, which is fiscally sponsored by Independent Arts & Media.

Rhythm of the City
Jan–May 2018

Artist Ira Watkins

Born in Waco, in 1941, Watkins relocated to San Francisco after a single, brief visit as a teenager, and supported himself by winning billiards and staying with new, easily made friends. Following a string of bad luck that included a brief stint in prison, Watkins consciously shifted his attentions from self-destruction to painting. As told to The New York Times in 2015, in art he’d simply found “something [he] liked to do better.” He credits Tenderloin nonprofits such as the Hospitality House and Wildflowers Institute as the safehouses in which he was able to pursue and hone his craft.

Now, Watkins’ work can be found in several of the Bay Area’s most notable exhibition spaces, including the Tenderloin Museum, Luggage Store gallery, and the University of California. Similarly, his paintings can still be seen in Waco, where January 17th is officially “Ira Watkins Day” in honor of one of his most acclaimed murals, a scene of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. delivering his iconic Lincoln Memorial “I Have a Dream” speech that overlooks Waco’s city center. His impressive exhibition history includes over 30 gallery and museum shows, both in solo and group shows.

Revered for a style of painting that draws similarities to 15th century European art in terms of arrangement and tone, Watkins flips the script of traditionally white iconography. By portraying the upper echelon of symbolism and stock characters as African Americans and Tenderloin personalities, Watkins challenges current American social hierarchies and breathes a certain air of dignity and respect into otherwise marginalized groups.

A true force whose career spans almost 30 years, Watkins’ body of work, including Rhythm of the City, depicts the communities that he is a part of — from Waco, Texas to San Francisco, California — and helps to bridge the chasm between the perception of history and the true stories of the people, places, and events that shaped Black America.

Every Face Has a Story
May–Oct 2018

Artist Cece Carpio takes over the Village Artist Corner this summer to radiate the themes of the exhibition Divine Bodies into the community surrounding the museum. Divine Bodies asks us to look for the divine in the human, and Carpio has found it in women living and working in the Tenderloin. With a series of painted portraits paired with their stories captured on video about the participants and their lives, Carpio shines a light on those who are needed to be seen.

Carpio is known for paintings of ordinary people that reveal their resiliency and thriving presence. For this project, she interviewed and painted a range of Asian Pacific Islander (API) women, from workers to sisters to elders to business owners and those caring for the neighborhood’s homeless population.

Stop by the mural at the Village Artist Corner and take a long look at the faces of these women and hear their voices. What stories are we missing when we don’t really see the people we pass on the street each day?

Listen to the women tell their stories here.

More about the artist here:

Oct 2018–Jun 2019

San Francisco and Jogjakarta, Indonesia, could be sister cities when it comes to their exuberant street art cultures. In fact, some of the murals that enliven the public spaces of each city are the fruit of an ongoing collaboration between artists associated with San Francisco’s Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP) and Jogjakarta-based artists. This fall, seven artists from Indonesia bring their particular brand of public art to the museum’s Village Artist Corner for a new project, Bangkit/Arise.

United by a belief that art in the public sphere can have a positive impact on communities, artists from the two cities have been engaged in a 15-year cross-cultural exchange. They began working side by side, and learning from each other, in 2003 with the project Sama-Sama/Together. American artists traveled to Jogjakarta to paint large-scale murals across the city and then the artists from Indonesia came here to create work. You can still spot a mural from this project on the facade of Rainbow Grocery in the Mission District. In the years since, artists from the two cities have continued to travel back and forth to add their handiwork to the ever-changing urban mix.

In the first part of Bangkit/Arise, the latest iteration of this long-term international exchange, CAMP artists developed public art in a suburb of Jogjakarta impacted by a cycle of gentrification and displacement familiar to San Franciscans. Now it is the Indonesian artists’ turn to come here and use their paintbrushes to creatively address social justice concerns, threats to the environment and other issues that resonate across cultures.

The Indonesian artists and their CAMP counterparts take over the Village Artist Corner mural wall in September and will be on-site for discussions, a poster-making session with San Francisco Poster Syndicate and community art-making. Live webcasts will connect us to Jogjakarta in real time, introducing us to its community of artists and giving us a glimpse of some of its vibrant street art.

Together, Let’s Be ________
Jul–Dec 2019

Together, Let’s Be ________ is a six-month long creative exploration that hopes to transform bystanders into active caring citizens.  

Art Side (Side A)
Straight from the hero’s journey, our ordinary world meets the special world in this whimsical slice-of-life mural. Filled with snapshots of everyday acts of heroism, imagine yourself in the scene as you contribute to the storyline.

Button Side (Side B)
Each month, this unique mural will unveil a new heroic skill for you to play with. Write or draw on a sticker how you imagine using this skill in an everyday situation and adhere it to the mural.  The hope is that if you can imagine it, it just might become real. And if it happens to become real, stop by your mural sticker and put a gold star on it to indicate that you did it!  Over time, the mural will be filled with everyday heroic acts, which will continue to provide inspiration for all those who witness it.  
Every contributor will receive a button with that month’s corresponding heroic skill (while supplies last). Come back every month to collect all six buttons! 

First Sundays, July 7–Dec 1

Participants will straddle the ordinary and special worlds as they step into the role of what it means to be a hero in their own lives. Join us as we explore where we’re at in our personal journeys through surprise pop-up installations that will bring out the hero in you! 

About the Creatives:
Alice Lee and Marie Applegate-Swanson are two local Bay Area creatives behind Together, Let’s Be ___________ .  This project is inspired by Dr. Philip Zimbardo and his Heroic Imagination Project, Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, and the Asian Art Museum’s upcoming exhibition Awaken: A Tibetan Buddhist Journey Toward Enlightenment (Jan-April 2020), as curated by Jeff Durham. 

Creative Director / Lead Artist Marie often finds herself amidst kids, scientists and creatives, oh my! Her participatory art installations dance in the middle of this venn diagram of perspectives. She hopes that Together, Let’s Be _________  will contribute toward a culture of emotional intelligence and prosocial behavior. In other words, remind people that we’re in it together! 

Artist Alice Lee is a human being who cares about consciousness, community, and connection. She is also an artist. Born and raised in the SF Bay Area, she now works from her art studio in the Mission as an independent illustrator and muralist. Alice’s goal with her large-scale installation work is to create immersive, warm, and accessible experiences that bring people closer to each other.  

Special thanks to Allison Wyckoff and the Asian Art Museum for this continued exploration of creative compassion and connection at the Village Artist Corner.

Goddesses and the Art of Compassionate Wrath
Jan 2020–2021

Inspired by the special exhibition Awaken: a Tibetan Buddhist Journey Toward Enlightenment, San Francisco artists Elaine Chu and Marina Perez-Wong of Twin Walls Mural Company have created a two-sided participatory mural, Goddesses and the Art of Compassionate Wrath. One side of the mural presents divine feminine aspects of compassion, highlighting wrath. On the other side, you will come face-to-face with the Buddha’s moment of awakening under the bodhi tree.

The mural dares you to stretch your understanding of compassion and explore what compassionate wrath might look and feel like in your own life. Compassion is kind, but can it also be powerful? Does compassion consume frustration, anger and rage, ultimately transforming them into acceptance, peace and love?

Goddesses and the Art of Compassionate Wrath was conceived by Creative Director Marie Applegate-Swanson and painted by local artists Elaine Chu and Marina Perez-Wong of Twin Walls Mural Company.

Organizers & Sponsors

The Village Artist Corner is funded through the generosity of The Family of Tania Vonelleese Seymour. Founding program support was made possible by Housing-Related Parks Program from the State of California, facilitated by San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department; The Hearst Foundations; California Arts Council; and The NFL Foundation and 50 Fund, the legacy fund of the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee.