While this art is not yet Public, it’s large-scale murals so I’m including it here. A friend who lives in a Victorian near Dolores Park in San Francisco let me stay there a while back, and we agreed some rooms were renovated in a too-plain style… Being artsy folk, we decided to remedy that and do some arty trippy interior design in there. Thus was born #DoloresArtHouse.
This was a bit of an odyssey of creation for me, I wanted to get out of my winter rut, flex my artistic muscles, loosen up my style and rise to a challenge. That it was… 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms in 3 weeks, a pretty intense pace that left me both righteously exhausted and exhilarated with possibilities at the end of each day.
My hosts had named each room after a famous person with ties to the Bay Area. We edited the list a bit for representation, and to evoke a variety of fun artistic styles. Here are the rooms I’ve decorated so far:
This room, actually probably the smallest, is also probably the one I had the most fun with. Zoe Jakes is a tribal fusion style bellydancer based in Oakland, who performs for the band Beats Antique. The style of this room comes from the aesthetics of the tribal fusion scene including Indian, Balkan Gypsy and Art Nouveau influences. The Ganesha painting in the recess over the foot of the bed speaks to the South Asian origin of the dance form, and as the Remover of Obstacles, Ganesha is a welcome influence for travelers and guests. (The rat, Ganesha’s small companion, traditionally symbolizes desire- which kept in appropriate control is useful for telling us what direction we need to follow.) This is the only room that uses the human form as an artistic element, because the body, its poses and movements, are integral to Jakes’ art. The ornate mirror (which I found in a nearby thrift shop!) reflects the flowers outside the window when seen from the bed.
Tan is a Chinese American novelist who writes mostly about the immigrant experience of Chinese families in America, especially her native San Francisco. In this room I took traditional Chinese architectural ornament as an inspiration and combined it with modern elements, like geometric and mandala shapes, for a modern fusion take on the Chinese aesthetic. The painting in the recess over the bed illustrates a passage from her novel The Joy Luck Club, where a child becomes lost during the Moon Festival and winds up watching the dance of the Moon Lady by the banks of a river. The architectural forms over the bed are meant to give the guest a feeling of being under a pavilion, looking into an open courtyard with sky.
Intended to honor the Native American inhabitants of the Bay Area, this room is named after the leader of the Ohlone village that occupied the Mission area at the time of Spanish contact. To counter the small and boxy nature of the room I wanted to add large geometrics that broke up the planes of the walls and ceiling. These geometric designs are inspired by ancient and modern Ohlone decorative arts, and I added a magical night sky revealed by encircling smoke which gives the sleeper in the upper bunkbed a more spacious and colorful experience. The aqua-blue shelf that skirts the window is meant to recall an abstract river, with small details of color variation to entertain the viewer by the window and desk, inspired by the play of light from the window, and potential water from glasses and cups left by the desk.
The first bathroom had a nice large wall, and I wanted to add some trippy freeform color. Then I started playing with the placement of light switches and soap dishes, as a stage for a mini drama of small characters.
The second, smaller bathroom, had wall spaces integrated with other room features, and called for a wraparound design adding some interest and color. Water, always a good theme, here has some whimsical touches of fantasy flying creatures below sea level and swimming creatures in the sky.
I had a general plan on entering each one but the specific design had to flow from the layout of the room and the experience of being in it. Some of my grand graphic street art plans had to soften a bit in order to make the space actually fun to inhabit… images and colors had to balance each other and make a unified whole in 3 dimensions. I guess this is what they mean by interior design.
Overall despite the intense work I have to say I had a lovely time staying in San Francisco to complete this. I want to thank my friends at Borderlands Cafe on Valencia for moral, physical, caffeinated and gustatory support. Go, there are geeks and fun people there :)
I also had the pleasure of daily banter and ideas from my delightful neighbors and muses, Victor and Axel from Sweden. I wish them luck on their Master’s thesis!
The Dolores Art House is a private location, but contact me if you’re curious about visiting.