Project One's mural community

Collaboration creation by SF's street color masters
All photos by Caitlin Donohue

There’s a mural by my work I pass everyday that is visually astounding. It’s a super burner- a big, looping maze of letters, or maybe just design, that must represent in its whorls every color of the rainbow. It takes up the street side of a long building on a background of black-on-black fluer de lis design at Turk and Mason. Not to trivialize the sweet and sour roughness of ‘Loin life, but it gives the dope heads, the police cruisers and the general down-and-outery of the ‘hood an air of artistry. 

You don’t see color like that just anywhere.

Which was why it was so nice to put a face to the piece during my trip down to Project One gallery to check out their current show “Four Squared,” a collaborative project between Chor Boogie, Apex One, Jet Martinez, and David Chong Lee. Apex One (who spray painted the mural in the Tenderloin) was there putting up a fresh new entryway sign for the gallery, and we got the chance to chat on how the group partnership came to be.

“We all knew each other,” Apex, an SF native, tells me. In what sounds like a phone tree among soccer moms, the four creative graf art legends decided to create what now hangs in Project One- two huge murals, each made of 90 square foot pieces that gallery owner Brooke Waterhouse hopes will enable the younger art fans to buy a piece of the action. 

Check out "Foursquared" at Project One to see Apex One's entry way design, pictured here mid spray

“I’ve been waiting to do that for awhile; have it set up so you can take a piece of the mural home with you,” says Apex. Painting largely simultaneously (check the vid here for installation shots), the artists created wall sized wonderlands that loosely relate their motifs to each other. A Boogie bird nestles on a Chong Lee design. It makes you wonder what would happen if street artists could drop the tag-on-tag wars forever and instead use their designs to augment the craft already on the wall in front of them. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Project One is also featuring individual works by each of the men on opposing walls from their group effort. They act as a stylistic key to the murals. Here, you can pick out Jet Martinez’s delicate cherry blossom sprigs- there, a lavender tag by Apex, its chunky and curved three dimensional form reminiscent of the architectural detailing on the Victorians he grew up amidst. Chor Boogie’s polychromed tiling work, Chong Lee’s eyeball studded Death Star.

It’s an engaging show to check out in the comfortable space at Project One, happy hour beer in hand. Nicer still? Well, for one, the fact that spring is here. More to the point, the fact that, somewhere, chances are that one of these guys is painting on a wall to beautify your walk to work. And for that, let’s give thanks.


“Four Squared”

through April 5th

Project One gallery

251 Rhode Island, SF

(415) 938-7173

Related articles

  • Treading water

    In the midst of a severe drought, the Soundwave art and music biennial encourages reflection on our most precious natural resource

  • SF arts funding prioritizes symphony, other stuff white people like

  • At the crossroads

    A community is left reeling by sudden changes at Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco's oldest alternative non-profit arts space.

  • Also from this author

  • Jock joints

    The 420 Games and weed-smoking pro athletes counter the image of lazy potheads

  • H. Brown: Goodbye to all that, we hope

  • H. Brown: Goodbye to all that, we hope