Untitled: 218 Steiner St. (at Haight)

The French artist named Miss Van is known for paintings of playful women who reveal their flesh but hide their faces. The Brazilian artist Ciru Schu is known for paintings of curious shapes — resembling amoeba, rough letters, and made-up creatures — that are covered with identifying marks as they extend outward. The artists' recent collaboration has found them in England, Brazil, and the United States, where last fall they drove from Los Angeles, where they both had big gallery exhibits, to San Francisco. The drive up, says Schu, was worth it. And it's true: Their painting at the corner of Haight and Steiner streets is one of San Francisco's most noteworthy new public works.

Commissioned by the owners of the building's clothing and jewelry store, the painting is anchored by two women wearing masks in the signature Miss Van style. The larger of the two women is holding a staff with a bird's head that matches the color of the women's turquoise hair. Schu's contribution snakes like a labyrinth around the women, giving them room to breathe and a layer of protection. Schu's and Miss Van's artistic styles are entirely complementary. The work, done by two artists with international reputations, was spontaneous and serendipitous, according to Rebecca Rose Vandersteen, an artist and designer who co-runs the clothing and jewelry store.

“She was in town and we just asked, and she said, 'Of course,'” says Vandersteen of Miss Van. Schu, meanwhile, says he'd gladly return to San Francisco. “I would come back,” he says, “but so far have not [gotten] an invitation.”

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