Anchored by an image of Bob Marley, the mural on the outer wall of Central Haight Market & Liquor has been a fixture for years — a signal to pedestrians, drivers, and cyclists that they've entered a stretch of San Francisco that's commercial and liberal in outlook. Every so often, Marley gets a makeover — a new profile or a new accompanying quote — and sometimes, the rest of the mural undergoes a dramatic reworking.
So it was in 2012, when San Francisco artist Jet Martinez originated the piece he calls Bosque de Los Alebrijes, which features a forest of black-and-white leaves and three very colorful frogs. Alebrijes are Mexican wooden sculptures of fantastical creatures.
The artwork, which seems to change colors throughout the day, celebrates the creations that hail from Martinez's homeland. Under the noontime sun, the forest's metallic black textures become more prominent. The morning and early-evening light bring out the forest's striking silvery edges. Visitors in the 1960s would have called Bosque de Los Alebrijes “trippy.”
Martinez, a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute who has done more than 30 murals around San Francisco, many with a floral theme, says Bosque de Los Alebrijes was a nice break from his other street murals — but that “people don't necessarily recognize it as my work.” The owner of a nearby Haight Street piercing studio paid him to do the mural, Martinez says, “to bring some attention to the neighborhood.”
That it has done.