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Thursday, July 23, 2015

San Francisco Beautiful Chooses Winners of First Muni Art Project Contest

Posted By on Thu, Jul 23, 2015 at 10:30 AM

  • "SWAY" by Ariel Dunitz-Johnson

Rising rents have priced out many galleries and SFMOMA doesn't reopen until spring, but at least you can see some art on your daily commute. By the end of September, 50 Muni buses will feature the artwork of the five winners of the San Francisco Beautiful Muni Art Contest. The contest began May 1 and received over 130 submissions from Bay Area artists challenged to capture the spirit of San Francisco. A committee of seven members of the arts community narrowed it down to ten finalists which were then voted on by the public.

Ariel Dunitz-Johnson, a San Francisco illustrator whose work has appeared in The Bold Italic and other publications, won with “SWAY,” a series of highly-detailed ink illustrations of members of S.F.'s LGBTQ community.

The 50 buses will be divided equally between Dunitz-Johnson and the other artists who made it into the top five: Phillip Hua, Reynaldo R. Cayetano Jr., Andria Lo, and Todd Berman, with each artist's work appearing in ten buses. While artists were allowed to submit previous work, all five finalists submitted a piece specifically designed with the contest in mind. 

"Through the years I have worked on a number of projects," said Dunitz-Johnson via email. "But SWAY seemed particularly well-suited to the context of this contest because if offers an opportunity for visibility, which is my core motivation for this work." 

The contest is part of a pilot project by San Francisco Beautiful funded in part by the Community Challenge Grant Program, which supports improvement projects throughout the city. According to Peter Clarke of San Francisco Beautiful, the organization hopes the program will continue to expand, someday including Muni stations as well as other "surprising locations", each carefully chosen to facilitate more chances for S.F. citizens to engage with art. 

"We all have busy and challenging lives. My intention is that my portraits will cause Muni riders to take pause and have a human response to each illustration and, even, with each other," said Dunitz-Johnson. "I try to capture each subject just as they are, and intend for this to create a more relatable experience, from human to human, even if one is in the flesh and the other is on paper." 

Check out the other finalists at 

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Jessi Phillips


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