Clarion Alley Artists Claim "Vengeful" Copyright Infringement in Tech Shuttle Art Contest

Mission Local's $500 shuttle bus bedazzling contest with Genentech, which we once called an “egregious conflict of interest,” is now receiving a new round of criticism—this time from neighborhood artists who feel their work is being used against their wills in an effort to give “'cool camo' for corporations.”

Via an anonymous tipster:

The winning entry for decorating the tech shuttles is a Google Street View of Clarion Alley and Community Thrift.

But the artists responsible for the murals/decorative painting in the photo condemn their art being used for this purpose, and did not support the competition from the beginning. They were even in contact with Lydia Chávez—yet, their art has been co-opted nonetheless.

The status update of the Clarion Alley Mural Project reads as follows: “Mission Loc@l SUCKS!!! & [Editor-in-Chief] Lydia Chávez sucks!!! This comes after a long email exchange with Lydia that included Megan Wilson, Jet Martinez (who painted Community Thrift), Rigo 23, and John Jota Leaños - and we all said that WE DID NOT SUPPORT THIS COMPETITION - Megan, Rigo, and Jet as Clarion Alley Mural Project. … Time to by [sic] an arsenal of paint guns!”

Megan Wilson is a lead organizer for CAMP, Jet Martinez painted Community Thrift (also “Sons of Satya”—“the elephant one”), Rigo 23 was an original founder of CAMP.

Emails between Chávez and Clarion artists, published on Megan Wilson's blog, show an intense rift between the arts community and the shuttles—and a community that wanted nothing to do with the project and rejected the co-opting of their work.

Chávez initially reached out to CAMP in early December, asking the muralists to participate in the contest.  However, the invitation was rejected outright.

“Fuck this!,” John Jota Leaños responded. “I had many subversive thoughts and brainstorms over breakfast, but none would fly … subversive, political, social art does not pass corporate scrutiny.”  He added:

I question Mission Local’s move to promote this and work with FB and others …to exploit artists to beautify their cush-rides while indirectly displacing these same artists… Fijate!

“I don’t know.  Why not give it a try?,” Chávez suggested.

She later admitted, “I would love to see some subversive ideas [in the contest].”

Before the artists requested the contest be retracted, Rigo 23 fired back:


Mission Local and Genentech chose to push forward with the contest, ultimately selecting a design which incorporated the protesting artists' work.

Megan Wilson writes, “the selection is not only disrespectful, but also seems vengeful and tacky.”

Comments (40)

Looks like someone glued Google Street View to the side of a bus.

Sounds like Lydia Chavez and Mission Local have signed up, lubed up, and puckered up to give some love to Tech’s collective asshole.

Subversive art doesn’t pass corporate scrutiny? What about Diego Rivera’s murals in Rockefeller Center in New York?

Totally pathetic. But this is the kind of crap you get when you crowd-source a contest. Plus, using a google street view images is a flagrant violation of the Terms of Use.

Everything about this “contest” stinks – except for a few of the funny entries.

I hear if you don’t click on them then you don’t have to read about them! Revolutionary idea.

Awwww someone loves the tech buses. At least they’ll always have you.

says the guy posting using the technology made by people riding ***gasp*** tech buses

says the guy employing a false dichotomy.

Uh oh, this master of the googlebus blowjob is getting angry, everyone!
P.S.- How’s that Googlecock™ taste, son?

Says the guy who eats food farmed by people who gives not a fuck about, and then prepared and served by people he gives not a fuck about. From his office that’s cleaned by people he gives not a fuck about. He goes home, to building built by the working class and lower middle class, who gives not a fuck about?

But hey, if there was an edit function, I could go for that right about now. haha

Judge not, that ye be not judged. And it’s not like the people preparing and serving food give a fuck about their customers either.No one gives a fuck about anyone. You certainly don’t give a fuck about the people who build technology.

My mother was a systems administrator from 1985 to 2006. My uncle did something for Lockheed Martin on computers that he can’t talk about from the 70’s to the 90’s. My brother did product testing at Symantec during the dot com boom (and through the bust), my sister currently works as a financial analyst for a tech company traded on Wall St. (she wants out of the corporate world but her house is under water from the last real estate bubble…).

Most people care about most people. What I see coming from the majority, not all by any means, of people working “tech” in San Francisco is a culture of extreme disengagement with others.*You*, I mean you “The Brin”, need to let go of your selfish insularity a little. The rest of don’t live that way. The rest of us do care about each other.

I worry about people like you who think this real estate is at all sane or stable. To the extent that you get ripped off by this market (and you are getting ripped off) - you have my thoughts.

In as much as you think you’re better than anyone else, I mean really better, deep down, in that much I in reality do feel sorry for you. Life is going to teach you some hard lessons as you age. You’ll wind up finding that you do need people, and that you do care.

I for my part teach adults who have developmental delays (autism, down’s syndrome, etc.) and provide in home care for the moderately to severely disabled. My jobs take intelligence, logic, education and skill. In general I care about people. I find most people do care most people. But I’ve been around more than you have.

By the way, my cousins family on my mom’s side have been working as contractors (the old school kind, building buildings) for a little more than century in the Bay Area.

But, if you really want to test your theory about people, what you should do is walk around for a day telling everyone you don’t care about anyone and no one cares about you. Let me know how people seem to feel about you. They might ask you what’s wrong with you.

If tech inherently creates extreme economic and socially inequality, what is it’s real value? I tend to think it’s not inherent but is structured that way for the benefit of those at the top… Most people agree with that. The problem is the lack of tech workers who are willing or able to discuss it.

I think this blog is wordpress which has their HQ in San Francisco and lots of employees who telecommute instead of moving to San Framcisco.

We’re actually a custom Drupal CMS, which is an open-source project, owned by a Portland-based non-profit.

Now the bus is a more malicious sign of displacement.

WTF is this Sh*t?! I used to manage this store. Everything about The Community Thrift Store is for what is the endangered and diverse SF community. It’s a nonprofit that sells donated goods and then donates the money to other nonprofits. I don’t know how a single person who works or volunteers there could possibly still afford to live in that neighborhood I…I…I don’t know what to say or think or feel…

Uh, who do you think is donating the stuff that Community Thrift sells?

Anyway, there are still many rent controlled apartment complexes where plenty of people can afford to live if they’ve been living there a while.

Like the three units next door to me that just got evicted via Ellis Act? And only a mere two blocks from the Elbo Room!

On a material level, not a symbolic level, a private company using a public resource for free (the Clarion murals and Mission Thrift’s beautiful facade), no proper taxes or recompense paid, for their own corporate gain. This is what they do, this yet another *real* example.

Yeah, if Genentech is stupid enough to actually go with this design then it only proves the point of those that are critical of the Mission’s gentrification. Change may be inevitable, but spitting in the eye of those on the losing end is not.

Dear Genentech: Please don’t pull corporate tone-deafness on this. It was a nice idea, but this is not the way to implement it.

I’m confused. The Clarion murals and Mission Thrift’s beautiful facade are a public resource?

But the artists were just claiming that the murals are their property. Can’t be their property and a public resource at the same time.

Poor Genentech. Here they thought they were giving Community Thrift a bunch of free advertising, and all these people get pissed off about it.

PS- Genentech has been running busses longer than Google and the others tech companies. I guess you’re too new here to remember all the resentment against the biotech companies that were taking over San Francisco in the 90s (which is why many of them relocated south of the city).

Hi “The Brin”. You certainly do seem confused. The artists who donated their time and materials, not their copy right, to make the mural on display for the public (the display part being a public resource), they said specifically to not use their work.

All flaming aside. Not caring about other people, thinking other people don’t care about you, that’s a hard way to live… I’m a 36 year old queer Bay Area native, my Irish great-grandmother is buried in a pauper’s grave under Dolores Park (the bodies weren’t moved fyi), I’ve been living in San Francisco since 2001. I’m intensely involved in few different communities and feel comfortable in general. I have deep and lasting ties to San Francisco.

People here, and in the wider Bay Area, have cared each other for a long time. If you think that’s just some hippy queer bull shit, you’ve had your eyes closed.

Or maybe you’ve forgotten what San Francisco and the Bay Area were like in 90’s when you moved here. That compassion and commitment to social and economic justice goes back…

“People here, and in the wider Bay Area, have cared each other for a long time.”

People in the Bay Area don’t care about people, they care about Their People. And anyone who arrived the in the area the day after they did, of course, is not one of Them. Much of the housing shortage here could be resolved by letting more housing development happen here, instead of blocking it at every turn. Tech people and the new kids would get new places, you get to keep your old ones … everyone wins!

But Old San Francisco won’t have that, because why should they lift a finger or deal with the slightest inconvenience to accommodate newcomers? For Those People? Never. And that’s what’s at the core of this all.

I disagree with your take on self-interest vs community interest. That’s an old debate around here… It depends on who you select to talk to and how you talk to them.

I agree we need more housing. You realize this is highly political region, and in order to get more housing built, you need to talk people outside of your “natural” group without expressing to them that you *don’t* give a fuck about them or their stability? Right?

You might actually have to do this in real life, not just on line, or in some insular situation.

I suggest faking compassion if you lack it and using some of your much vaunted intellect to understand someone else’s interest. Keep in mind while many, many of us do have real life-put in the work compassion, we also know a bottom line.

Perhaps “old time” San Francisco understands politics around here better than you, and you could learn something.

“But Old San Francisco won’t have that, because why should they lift a finger or deal with the slightest inconvenience to accommodate newcomers?”

Slightest inconvenience? Try losing your home and relationships that go back 20, 30 years. You do that and you tell me about it.

I do agree we need more housing.

Point being: Don’t shut up but realize you’re going to have to change too.

That’s my green car in the image!! I gonna say Google should give me $$$ for expropriating for commercial advantage the image of my green car.

Good vibrations….

pfft Nice Mustang 5.0 bro. a 1993 hip-hop music video producer called and wants it back. Actually I want it now. I miss 1993.

If that design is actually implemented, the bus is going to get quickly trashed.

So what’s the solution here? Tech workers have to move out of the Mission and down the peninsula? Force the more upscale shops and restaurants out of the Mission? Increase crime and poverty?

Let’s hear some constructive ideas rather than just the anti-techie hate talk.

Not flaming you. That does mean you’re going to have to listen to people you’re “instincts” tell you not, people who you would normally disagree with or try to shut out from the get go.

I would prefer to have more crime and less upscale shops if it prevented my rent from doubling.

Not flaming. Here’s germane question: How do you pop a real estate bubble without screwing the economy?

Don’t you people have any REAL problems?

Just becuase they are not your problems, doesn’t mean they are not real problems.