At almost six stories tall, it's the largest peace sign in San Francisco — a city that, in the 1960s, helped inspire the worldwide popularity of the two-finger salute. The '60s were on the mind of Berlin-based artist James Reka when, last October, he painted the symbol on the side of a building that fronts Hastings College of the Law.
Reka, who made his name covering his native Australia with street art, created Peace during an exhibit of his work at White Walls in the Tenderloin. When Reka found out that organizers had arranged for the commission at McAllister, and that it would face an institution where grad students were training to be lawyers, he was ecstatic. With its psychedelic colors, embedded eye, and yin-and-yangish contours, Peace is a powerful statement that's hard to ignore.
“I have been painting a lot of site-specific murals and pieces when I travel, and I wanted to connect with S.F.'s rich history,” says Reka, who has what he calls a Pop-Art-influenced logo design background.
“Originally I was going to paint a portrait of a 'Lady of the Bay,' referencing the '60s and '70s and The Love Movement. In the end I thought it was too obvious and thought [I'd do] something more iconic and simple like a hand doing a peace sign. This mural has actually opened some doors for me style-wise that I am very excited to explore and push in the future.”