Know Your Street Art: Compassion Lives Here

12 Cunningham Place (at Valencia, near 19th Street)

(Photo by Jonathan Curiel)

Andre Karpov drew himself in the mural — he’s the guy playing guitar on the left — but the artwork is much more a neighborhood and Bay Area narrative than an autobiographical piece. The evidence is in the worker with a broom, the sleeping man, the homeless figure digging through a garbage can, and the side-by-side housing that overlooks the scene — along with a long-haired woman whose hair blends in with the curves of a blue Golden Gate Bridge.

Karpov painted the mural 10 years ago, after winning a contest by the Mission District organization Precita Eyes Muralists. (Karpov lived in the area then, not far from the wall that now bears his work.)

“It’s taking care of the people who live in the neighborhood, like homeless people,” Karpov says. “I was playing a lot of music at the time, so I painted myself playing the guitar, and a bass player, and the guy rifling through the garbage. I wanted to say that compassion exists in San Francisco — at least in some places. But it’s also about music and art.”

Karpov, who grew up in Mendocino and now lives in the East Bay, says his style is heavily influenced by a teacher who specialized in the Japanese arts. Compassion Lives Here has a strong symmetry of colors, shapes, and lines that easily integrate the scene’s disparate parts.

“I’m influenced by black ink lines,” says Karpov, who has drawn and published two children’s books. “I’m strong with that.”

“I’m just glad it’s still up,” he says of the mural, then adds an afterthought that references the area’s eviction rates and rapidly changing demographics: “I hope for peace in the Mission.”

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