A comic treat for Market Street: Fil-Am artist illustrates, highlights San Francisco poets in street poster series

San Francisco-City of Poets poster on Janice Mirikitani by A.C. EsguerraImages courtesy of SFAC

Los Angeles-based Fil-Am artist illustrates and highlights six Bay Area poets in commissioned set of two-sided posters

SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) has unveiled “San Francisco – The City of Poets,” the fourth and final installment of commissioned posters for the 2022 Art on Market Street Kiosk Poster Series program and will be on view along Market Street between Hyde Street and the Embarcadero at 18 SFMTA transit kiosks through January 2023.

Los Angeles-based Filipinx American Comics Artist A.C. Esguerra (they/them) has created twelve unique poster designs “exploring the rich history of San Francisco’s poetry scene, particularly poetry from marginalized voices which call for action to seek justice and the liberation of oppressed people,” shared Esguerra in their proposal narrative.

San Francisco-City of Poets poster on June Jordan by A.C. EsguerraImages courtesy of SFAC

“I am thrilled that the final installation of our 2022 Art on Market Street Poster Series highlights the beautiful art of poetry and features some of San Francisco’s most notable poets and authors,” said Ralph Remington, Director of Cultural Affairs. “These magnificent works by A.C. Esguerra truly illustrate why San Francisco is known as the City of Poets!”

San Francisco-City of Poets poster on Pat Parker by A.C. Esguerra

The two-sided poster series feature six poets: Janice Mirikitani, June Jordan, Victor Martinez, Al Robles, Pat Parker, and Alejandro Murguia. On one side of the posters, Esguerra interprets and illustrates selected poem(s) from each poet, and on the reverse, they created a one-page comic presenting a brief biographical overview of the authors.

San Francisco-City of Poets poster on Victor Martinez by A.C. Esguerra

“This was an amazing opportunity to bring poetry off of the shelves and onto the streets,” shared Esguerra. “The words these poet-activists wrote to give voice and strength to their communities are so relevant, powerful and necessary to this day. It was an honor to use my skills as a visual communicator to translate that lyricism and beauty into the ultra-accessible, visually exciting form of comics. If these posters can get any passerby on Market Street engaged with the work of these poets, my job is done.”

Born in Manila, Philippines, Esguerra is a comics artist and illustrator who lives in Los Angeles with their partner and a very good shiba inu. They create poetic, intricate artwork and stories with a revolutionary streak. Their debut graphic novel was “Eighty Days,” an award-winning queer historical romance epic about 1930s pilots. Most recently, they illustrated “Who Was…Amelia Earhart.” They have spoken about the intersections of queerness, history and comics at events including TCAF and West Hollywood Pride.

San Francisco-City of Poets poster on Victor Martinez by A.C. Esguerra

The 2022 poster series theme was inspired by and centered around the medium of “comics and sequential arts.” Other participating artists and artist groups for the 2022 series included: Frederick Noland, Gaia WXYZ, and artistic team Kayan Cheung-Miaw and Vida Kuang.

The first installation of the 2022 poster series, San Francisco Black History, created by artist Frederick Noland, was on view from January to April 2022. Noland’s work highlighted the often-forgotten stories and contributions of San Francisco’s iconic and prominent Black community members.

The second installation, The Tale of Daisy and Gaia, created by artist Gaia WXYZ, was on view from May to July 2022. WXYZ’s illustrates the family history and memoir of local comic artist and UC Berkeley art lecturer, Gaia WXYZ [pronounced guy-ah wize], and their great-Grandmother, Daisy, both of whom moved to San Francisco and the Bay Area nearly a century apart.

The third Installation, Chinatown: Love, Struggle, and Resistance, created by artist team Kayan Cheung-Miaw and Vida Kuang, was on view from August to October 2022. Their six poster designs featured hand-drawn vignettes highlighting the often-untold stories and struggles of Chinatown’s denizens, showcasing stories of love, struggle, and resistance. Each poster can be viewed as a stand-alone comic, or together as a complete story.

San Francisco-City of Poets poster on Alejandro Murguia by A.C. Esguerra

The 2023 Art on Market Street Kiosk Poster Series theme, “Comics 2.0”, will be a continuation of the 2022 poster series theme and will feature poster designs by artists: Rina Ayuyang, Peter + Maria Hoey, Minnie Phan and Triple Dream Comics.

The Art on Market Street Kiosk Poster Series program has commissioned new artworks from artists on an annual basis since 1992 in partnership with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and Clear Channel. Now in its 30th year, the program has partnered with over 120 artists since its inception, commissioning over $1.2 million worth of art, showcasing a wide breadth of artistic styles, themes and topics centered around San Francisco. Up to four artists are commissioned annually by the Arts Commission to create a series of at least six unique works of art that responds to a theme specific to San Francisco.

The San Francisco Arts Commission is the City agency that champions the arts as essential to daily life by investing in a vibrant arts community, enlivening the urban environment, and shaping innovative cultural policy. Our programs include Civic Art Collection, Civic Design Review, Community Investments, Public Art, SFAC Galleries, and Art Vendor Licensing. To learn more, visit sfartscommission.org.

(SFAC Release)

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