Oct 19 2012

Street Art: “Picturesoteric” by Sirron Norris

So I was heading home today from a couple of pre-surgery errands. (Yes, I know, I have friends who will run errands for me right now… but I wanted the exercise and the outside time, especially since I have a stretch of house-bound boredom and cabin-fever ahead of me.) I was feeling tired and worried, sad and shut down, wanting nothing more than to be home on my sofa watching bad TV and turning off my brain.

And I saw this.

"Picturesoteric" by Sirron Norris

"Picturesoteric" by Sirron Norris

"Picturesoteric" by Sirron Norris

"Picturesoteric" by Sirron Norris

"Picturesoteric" by Sirron Norris

And I thought: I get to see this.

I get to be alive.

It sucks that I have cancer. It completely sucks that I got diagnosed with cancer two weeks after my father died. And it’s okay for me to feel shitty, to feel tired and sad and like I need to take a brain-break from everything.

But I get to be alive, here, and now.

And I get more than to be alive. I get to be alive in this neighborhood: so alive and so freaky and so very much a neighborhood. I get to be alive in this city, where art like this is welcomed and celebrated and has a home. I get to be alive in this century, when I have have a life expectancy of 80 and not 35, when endometrial cancer can be caught early and doesn’t have to be a death sentence.

Richard Dawkins said it really well:

We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.

I get to be alive. No, I don’t get to be alive forever: this cancer is very treatable and will be behind me pretty soon, but mortality is going to catch up with me eventually. But I get to be alive. And I get to see huge, expansive art that is entirely made of joy.

“Picturesoteric,” by Sirron Norris. Corner of 18th and Bryant in San Francisco. Lots more details from the mural after the jump. Click. It’s worth it.

"Picturesoteric" by Sirron Norris

"Picturesoteric" by Sirron Norris

"Picturesoteric" by Sirron Norris

"Picturesoteric" by Sirron Norris

"Picturesoteric" by Sirron Norris

"Picturesoteric" by Sirron Norris

"Picturesoteric" by Sirron Norris

"Picturesoteric" by Sirron Norris

"Picturesoteric" by Sirron Norris

"Picturesoteric" by Sirron Norris

"Picturesoteric" by Sirron Norris

"Picturesoteric" by Sirron Norris

"Picturesoteric" by Sirron Norris

"Picturesoteric" by Sirron Norris

"Picturesoteric" by Sirron Norris

P.S. I love all the cameras in the piece. It’s as if the artist knew people would be taking photos of the mural… and created a mural that’s looking out at us, taking photos of us right back.


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  1. 1
    Argle Bargle

    Now that is a cheerful mural.

  2. 2


  3. 3

    That’s phenomenal.

  4. 4
    Maureen Brian

    Beautiful! Thank you.

  5. 5

    SF is an amazing city. Among the top two most transcendently beautiful places I’ve ever found myself, one was in a red sand canyon in Utah one windy and mysterious evening, and the other was off one of the Telegraph Hill paths in a garden on a mild summer day with the ship horns in the distance and the birds chirping. You’ve very lucky to live there.

  6. 6
    Marcus Ranum

    Hey! Three waves! Like “father, son, holy ghost” or something! Naah, just waves.

  7. 7

    In the midst of medical, economic, and romantic catastrophe, it is good to appreciate how good it is to be alive.

    We are among the ‘saved’ and not the ‘drowned.’ (thank you Primo Levi)

  8. 8

    It’s Toon Town!

  9. 9

    Thanks for adding some wonderful cheer to my day! I always find art done on the scale of murals like this to be exceptionally fascinating, just because of the logistics.

  10. 10

    After my hysterectomy I found a website called hyster sisters give it a read. Also you will need a tummy pillow, you hold it to your tummy when you sit up. For what its worth the end result of my hysterectomy was wonderful, no more periods no more pain the money saved on feminine products…There is an upside you will get better and you will be alive to see so much more art! Oh and yelling fuck when you sit up is a good thing!

  11. 11

    Greta, from a fan in China, I hope you get well soon. Thanks for doing what you do to challenge the world to think/act differently. The mural will inspire me to paint my house like that… maybe.

  12. 12

    This reminds me of the very end of Barbara Ehrenreich’s book Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy. In the last chapter, she describes a spontaneous festival in Rio, a samba school — “a phalanx of samba dancers, about ten people abreast and at least a block long” — dancing down to the boardwalk and suddenly turning into a celebration:

    As they reached the boardwalk, bystanders started falling into the rhythm too, and, without any invitation or announcements, without embarrassment or even alcohol to dissolve the normal constraints of urban life, the samba school turned into a crowd and the crowd turned into a momentary festival. There was no “point” to it — no religious overtones, ideological message, or money to be made — just the chance, which we need much more of on our crowded planet, to acknowledge the miracle of our simultaneous existence with some sort of celebration.

  13. 13
    Portia (aka Smokey the Advocate)

    Very cool, Greta. I’m glad you stumbled across this right when you needed to.

  14. 14

    Wow — what an awesome mural! I so love happy murals! Thanks so much for sharing so many pictures of this — I needed that reminder of collective joy. How fortunate you are to live in a city that encourages that kind of art! it is a privilege to be alive and to experience such moments.

  15. 15

    #13 cactuswren
    I always thought the world would be a better place if people broke out into spontaneous song and dance, like a movie musical.
    I saw this video of an orchestra flash mob playing the Star Wars theme in Cologne, Germany.
    Just a bit of simple fun and I thought “Ain’t this world full of amazing people and wonderful things!”

    Our best wishes are with you, Greta, and hopes that your surgery and recovery go smoothly.

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