Best Underground Art -- Literally - 2004
If you think San Francisco's once-flourishing graffiti scene has lost its emphasis on piecing (more elaborate, murallike work) and degenerated to tepid tags, take the N Judah through the tunnel between Duboce Park and the Cole & Carl stop. Hug the windows to cut the glare: Both sides are lined with some of the coolest street art on any continent. The spot is known to serious graffiti writers from all over the world, many of whom have left their marks at various times -- including local-guy-makes-good Twist, whose handiwork has been seen at the 2001 Venice Biennial and SFMOMA but is still fresh in alleys, too. Hidden from view, artists have the leisure to produce more complex pieces without stressing about the Man. (It's true that shortly after 9/11 at least one graffitist emerged in the wee hours to a blockade of cops with guns drawn; he was arrested and the tunnel shut down for hours. Things have eased up now.) Quality is highest toward the middle of the tunnel.