On April 26th, following a ten year legal battle, the former site of the San Francisco School of the Arts was purchased by San Francisco State University. The site had been vacant since 2002 and, despite repeated attempts to secure the property, continued to be a frequent stopping point for squatters and graffiti taggers. The site remains a restricted gallery for the work of these outsider artists, with numerous murals displayed outside and within the 2.5 acre campus.
In some places, the graffiti takes on a mean spirited tone, defacing the work of earlier artists.
More often, the distinction between art added before and after the abandonment of the site becomes unclear. Many of the school's walls retain the projects of its students and, as with this mural, there is little indication as to the piece's true origins. Is this "art" created before 2002, or "vandalism" added on afterwards?
In early 2010, an article was published through SF State’s X-Press magazine, detailing the status of the property. Soon after, perhaps because of the increase in exposure, the broken windows and squatter entrances were boarded up again, the door handles secured with screws and metal plates.
In the rear of the one of the court yards, someone has placed a chair and carpet at the foot of a cement gorilla statue, as if requesting an audience with the space's final remaining inhabitant. Its forlorn, simian caretaker.
Stay tuned for part 2, in which we take a closer look at the objects left behind since the school's abandonment.