Updated: Dec 21, 2022
Japantown History Mural Community Meeting #1
6-8 pm, Tuesday, November 1, 2022
National JACL Headquarters
1765 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94115
Mural Team (5): Randolph Bowes, Graphic Design Engineers; Lisa Brewer; Mission Arts 415; Crayone; Judy Hamaguchi; Wes Wong.
Participants (10): Jeremy Chan, Japantown Task Force; Tomo Hirai, Nichi Bei Weekly; Abigail Maher, SF Recreation & Parks Department; Glynis Nakahara, Japantown Task Force; Elena Nielsen, SF JACL Board; Darcy Nishi, Japantown Rainbow Coalition; Beverly Ng, SF Recreation & Parks Department; Nathan Siegal; Kenji Taguma, Nichi Bei Weekly; Greg Viloria, MonksMedia Works.
I. Welcome by SF JACL President Judy Hamaguchi
Judy provided welcoming remarks. She stated that there have been over 30 one-on-one meetings with community leaders and stakeholders over the past 4 months.
II. Presentation by Lisa Brewer, MuralArts415
A. Lisa explained the aspirations of the project. She and Judy were very intentional about every step. The first step was one-on-one meetings. The second step was recruiting a design team. The third step was researching Japantown history which is ongoing. Kenji Taguma and Rosalyn Tonai have been invaluable resources on the Japantown history. She introduced the design team:
1. Randall, Lisa’s spouse, has been researching Japantown history.
2. Wes Wong (aka Wes Marks) has been painting big murals in the City since 2006. He has been a web design director for the past 20 years. His specialty is photo realism and a variety of artistic approaches.
3. Crayone (Rigel Juratovac) grew up in Japantown through the 1980s. He started in breakdancing, moved over to graffiti art. In 1989, he started in corporate murals and expanded to web development in 1995. In 2000, he began film editing. In 2005, he began to market his skills on a dedicated website. After a job transition, he launched Crayone 2.0. In 2015, he joined the San Francisco Fire Department and was just promoted to be a Fire Inspector. Lisa explained that she asked both Wes and Crayone to join the project because of the large size of the space, 1100 square feet. Wes and Crayone worked jointly on the SF Giants resilience campaign.
B. Peace Plaza Renovation Project
Lisa explained that Japantown Task Force Executive Director Emily Murase briefed her and Judy about the Peace Plaza Renovation Project that is expected to begin construction in 2024. In order to account for the construction, the mural team has decided to paint the mural on pressure treated wooden panels that are able to be removed so that they can be protected.
C. Other Murals
Judy asked Lisa to talk about her signature Lilac Project where she and the muralists she worked with transformed a Mission District alley by her home from a graffiti, crime ridden street to an alley filled with murals that contributed to a drop in crime by 92%. Lisa, who is a member of the City’s Graffiti Abatement Board, explained that any blank wall becomes a blank canvas. Filling the canvas with a mural leads to a reductin of random graffiti.
III. Mural Design
D. Augmented Reality
Wes explained that an important feature of the mural is that visitors can access additional contextual information through their cell phones. For example, by pointing a cell phone camera on a component of the mural, a video can play automatically.
E. Personal Connection
Judy arrived in San Francisco in 1950 and has seen Japantown over decades. Along with the older issei first generation and the younger nisei second generation Japanese Americans, she was a witness to the bulldozers that destroyed Japanese American homes during Redevelopment in the late 1960s. She wanted to find a way to communicate to today’s and future generations the events and leaders who built Japantown to what it is today.
1. Glynis asked about the general design concept. Judy referred people to the image on the 1 page community meeting event flyer which is just illustrative. Wes elaborated that there are 4 general phases.
a. General esthetic approach
b. Who are the people to be included
c. Refine the design
d. Painting (longest phase)
2. Emily stated that this is a once-in-a-lifetime art project. She asked if there will be ways to include the younger generation of taggers, graffitis artists to engage with the project since it is such a rare opportunity to learn the process. Lisa explained that there could be opportunities for aspiring muralists to buff and seal the mural but the mural art itself needs to be kept in the hands of the mural professionals. It might be possible to host field trips on aerosol art.
3. Elena stated that the Japantown community has a long history of being diverse, specifically there has been a movement to recognize the LGBT community and the Black community. She asked how these will be reflected in the mural. Lisa responded that there will absolutely be elements of the mural that refer to the LGBT community, such as the Pride Flag, and the rich history of jazz in the Western Addition.
4. Glynis asked about the artistic approach. Wes responded that the design team begins with low fidelity sketches. Based on historical information provided by Kenji Taguma and Rosalyn Tonai, the design team has been exploring various scenarios.
5. Emily explained that the most controversial part of the mural is selecting the individuals who will appear on the mural. The chapter is committed to celebrating a much larger number of notable people, 50 or 100. She reported that, at the most recent SF JACL board meeting, she proposed a selection process whereby nominations are closed on December 31 and, in January, an advisory board appointed by the SF JACL board will convene at one or two public meetings.
6. Beverly asked what will happen between now and December 1? How will the advisory committee be selected? Judy responded that she will be conducting outreach by walking the flier to the Rec & Park outreach list. Nominations are being accepted at the SF JACL website, sfjacl.org. The SF JACL board will meet to decide who to invite to serve on the advisory board. Proposed candidates include Donna Graves, Richard Hashimoto, Paul Osaki, Kenji Taguma, Rosalyn Tonai.
Beverly stated that Rec & Park requires a minimum of two public community meetings. There may be a need for further meetings beyond November 1 (this one) and December 1. Emily asked if the two proposed public meetings on the selection of the notables will satisfy the requirement for public community meetings. Beverly responded that if the meetings are publicly accessible, particularly in-person and virtual, then the meetings would count.
7. Elena thanked the design team for the hard work. She stated that Reverend Gary Barbaree, President of the Japanese American Religious Federation, has devoted a lot of his efforts to bridge Japantown with the black community of the Western Addition/Fillmore District. Lisa has connected with Anthony Brown, Darlene Roberts, and other knowledgeable individuals.
8. Judy and Lisa added that the mural will be amplified by a kids coloring book, merchandising where profits would accrue to merchants.
Judy thanked the team and the meeting participants, especially representatives from the San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department.
The meeting concluded at 8 pm.
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