Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

SF artist Barry McGee's work stolen again 

Wednesday, Jan 9 2008

If anyone sees a bunch of large ceramic panels representing the spirit of the Outer Sunset, please notify Muni spokesman Alan Siegel. He'd really like them back.

The panels, commissioned by Muni, were created by San Francisco artist Barry McGee and installed on the wheelchair-access ramps at above-ground N-Judah stops in the mid-'90s. But at some point — Siegel isn't sure when — the panels disappeared.

"I'm a bit nonplussed," he admitted. "I've been trying over the last few weeks to check and see if we took them down — maybe they'd been graffitied and needed to be cleaned or repaired — but that wasn't the case. I'm hoping that someone will find and return them."

Um, yeah. Siegel may be nonplussed, but McGee has been through this before. He has something of an area record for pieces stolen, including a 64-foot-wide, 8-foot-high mural on Howard in 1999.

"I don't know what's going on," he told SF Weekly. "My artwork gets stolen all the time; it's ridiculous." Just this week, in fact, he is re-creating six pieces that were stolen from a gallery in New York City called Deitech Projects. "Galleries are easier to steal from than the Apple Store, maybe," he suggested. "I don't know how somebody would have gotten the pieces off the Muni line, though — I thought they were on there pretty good."

Told that in at least one instance at Judah and Sunset, the thieves cut the metal frame out of the ramp and then removed the tile, McGee was impressed. "Really? That's very ambitious. I wish them luck."

There are, in other words, no hard feelings. In fact, McGee suggested, maybe it was time to replace the tiles anyway. He doesn't exactly have fond memories of the commission.

"I sent out 800 questionnaires to houses along the N line, just trying to get a feel for the community's support or idea of any direction they'd like the project to include — and I got two back," he recalled. "And those were complaints that the new handicapped-accessible ramps being installed were taking away parking spaces. I didn't get any real direction from that.

"It wasn't an extraordinary piece," he concluded. "It's probably a good thing it's starting to get stolen. It's probably time for someone else to take over that line."

About The Author

Benjamin Wachs


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"