SAN FRANCISCO — With his mural “Pesca pesca Redouble la Force,” on the side of an apartment building in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, artist Erlin Geffrard wanted to celebrate his hardworking parents and emphasize the struggle of working-class people.
“It’s kind of difficult imagery,” he told Hyperallergic. “I wanted something sincere and wholesome. I wanted to share with the community a real soft moment, this moment of breath.”
Geffrard grew up in Florida, where his parents moved from Haiti in 1979. His father often talked about the Bay Area, and that was part of the reason Geffrard chose to go to the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI).
“He was really inspired by the radicalism,” Geffrard said of his father. “He loved history and he knew a lot about the Black Panthers, and we’d talk about them. He loved jazz, too, and a lot of West Coast philosophy, and this seemed like an interesting way to honor him with this mural. It’s hyper-Bay Area and filled with love and celebrating life.”
In the artwork, Geffrard’s parents wear brightly colored shorts, shirts, and hats, along with sunglasses and sandals. They carry fishing poles and display their catch. Fishing was their favorite pastime, and as well as showing his own children how to fish, Geffrard’s father taught many neighborhood kids. At his father’s funeral a few years ago, the adults he’d mentored as children came carrying their poles.
Darryll Smith, co-owner of the Luggage Store Gallery, which commissioned the mural, met Geffrard through Carlos Villa, who taught at SFAI. Villa was on the board of the Luggage Store and would bring students by sometimes.
“Erlin was one of those students about whom he told us, ‘You have to get to know this person,’” Smith said.
Geffrard says his parents worked hard to make a living for themselves and their six children, and “redouble la force” was a phrase they often used to encourage themselves and their children to use life’s difficulties as inspiration for growth. With Haitian immigrants recently being forced by political and natural disasters to leave their country, Geffrard wanted to remind people of the human need to search for a better life and the contributions of Haitians to this country, such as the soldiers who fought in Savannah, Georgia during the Revolutionary War; the Haitian immigrant Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable, known as the founder of Chicago; and the many cultural contributions, such as Haitian music and dance.
Geffrard, now a professor of art at the University of Pennsylvania, likes that the mural, one of the largest currently up in San Francisco, looms over the neighborhood.
“I love seeing people’s interaction with it, be it a family dealing with rent issues or an open-air entrepreneur or a store clerk or a tech person,” he said. “It’s a moment of ‘Whoa what is that?’ Sometimes, when we’re walking on the ground level, we don’t look up, and that it’s vibrant and colorful and playful reminds us of our humanity and takes our lives back to what really matters for a moment.”
What’s more, representing his parents in a moment of leisure enjoying themselves meant a lot to Geffrard. “It’s a moment of reprieve, and I wanted to share that with the neighborhood,” Geffrard said. “Let’s give a tender moment for the Tenderloin.”
Erlin Geffrard’s “Pesca pesca Redouble la Force” is located at 455 Eddy Street, San Francisco.
The artist’s portrait of her mother, painted in 1977 and reproduced on the vaporetti of Venice, may be one of the most evocative artworks in the Biennale.
A new box set of four of the Iranian director’s features offers a great opportunity to get to know his singular style.
Shows at the Hudson Valley’s Hessel Museum of Art feature artists Dara Birnbaum and Martine Syms, as well as new scholarship on Black melancholia as an artistic and critical practice.
It’s not a “greatest hits” show, or a comprehensive survey; rather, it is a starting point to reconsider an expansive vision of Chicana/o art.
“I’m focused on contemporary Native American stories, the modern-day ups and downs of that lifestyle, but I’m not trying to do it in a traditional manner,” the award-winning filmmaker told Hyperallergic in an interview.
PLEASE SEND TO REAL LIFE: Ray Johnson Photographs reveals the “career in photography” that occupied the artist in the last three years of his life.
The Tweet comparing an ominous screen capture from the Tucker Carlson Show to one of Holzer’s Truisms is being sold as an NFT to benefit crucial organizations in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.
Rapper Maykel “Osorbo” Pérez was sentenced to nine years.
Contemporary Black-Indigenous women artists Rodslen Brown, Joelle Joyner, Moira Pernambuco, Paige Pettibon, Monica Rickert-Bolter, and Storme Webber are featured in this digital exhibition.
On the day of the Supreme Court’s decision to undo 50 years of constitutional rights to abortion, artist Elana Mann’s “protest rattles” feel especially poignant and urgent.
This week, Title IX celebrates 50 years, the trouble with pronouns, a writer’s hilarious response to plagiarism allegations, and much more.
Since antiquity, women’s eyebrows have been sites of intense scrutiny, constantly shifting between trend cycles.