San Francisco artist Jenny Sharaf never signs her work. Why should she? The art should speak for itself, she reasons. That's why her large, gorgeous mural on Market Street — the one just feet away from the Warfield Theatre — was unsigned from the moment it went up in September. Here's why that was problematic: In October, President Obama and Kanye West held a big political fundraiser at the Warfield, and scores of people, while waiting to get in, took selfies in front of Sharaf's abstract work — but they never knew Sharaf was the artist. That moment came and went.
“I definitely lost my 15 minutes there,” says Sharaf, referring to Andy Warhol's maxim about fame. “I was in New York when I saw on the news that Kanye and Obama were next door, and people were like, 'You need to sign the mural,' and I felt a sense of panic that I should put my name somewhere.”
Sharaf, 30, has since signed the art, which was commissioned through the Luggage Store Galleryby the company that's developing the Warfield building. Sharaf's paintings are like waves of undulating water, full of colors that flow this way and that. They're bright, moody, and sinuous. While Next to the Warfield is her first public work, she's exhibited widely, and recently developed what she calls the Parking Lot Art Fair, where artists sell their work in an open environment that doesn't charge entry. She also organized ART NIGHT SF, where artists and exhibitors have shown off their work in United Nations Plaza.
Sharaf is using an artist's studio in the Warfield building that was once a camera shop, and people still take selfies next to her work. The thing is, even if they see her name, they may not care, Sharaf says.
“At art fairs, a lot of people [who take photos and post them online] don't tag the artists in the picture,” she says. “In public art, you have to let go. My studio is right next to the mural, so I watch a lot of people take pictures of it, and they could care less about who the artist is, honestly.”
Sharaf laughs, adding, “It's obvious that I'm the artist — I'm standing right there, in painted clothes, and they don't give a shit. That's fine. People who like art in San Francisco start to pay attention who the artists are. Hopefully your gestures or your style is going to be recognized without your name. That's the goal.”