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Untitled: 435 Duboce Ave 

Wednesday, Sep 25 2013
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Whether an artist does work in the street or in the highest echelons of Silicon Valley, it helps to have fans in the right places. Ian Ross has those fans — which is why you'll find his paintings on the walls of Facebook's headquarters and the walls of buildings around San Francisco, including 435 Duboce Ave. It's there, on high wooden walls fronting a planned apartment building, that Ross has orchestrated a series of street paintings, including a new one in April that features a surreal, Wizard of Oz-like landscape of trees with faces. A giant amphibian roams the right side of the mural, whose expanse evokes a mix of eerie primordialism and comic-book jocularity. The building's property management company commissioned Ross to do the mural. Two other artists, Max Ehrman and a graffiti specialist named "Alosta," did most of the painting, which is located near a major traffic point (Church and Duboce) that gets thousands of visitors a day. In the five months the mural has been up, a kind of fan club has developed — but the painting's days are numbered, as Ross is planning to redo the walls with "something special." (He won't say what that is.) In fact, Ross is guarded about all his future plans, including his ongoing relationship with Facebook, whose founder's sister, Randi Zuckerberg, is a fan who owns Ross' works. "I am planning something very special for the Facebook culinary team, but it's still a bit of a secret," he says. One thing is certain: Ross' Facebook paintings aren't subject to taggers the way his 435 Duboce work is. On a recent day, someone scribbled two words on one of Ross' trees: "Shitty diaper." The tag only adds to the odd nature of the art.

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Jonathan Curiel

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