For decades, FLAX Art & Design and its “happening” aisles of art occupied Market Street between Valencia and Gough. But when FLAX left last year for downtown Oakland (and a smaller place at Fort Mason), to make way for an expected condominium project, the store’s old commercial building became a magnet for all sorts of street art, including Carmen McNall’s The Fruit seller. McNall put up the mural in December, and its appearance there — close to an old FLAX sign that says “inspiring creativity” — is making the store’s Market Street disappearance a bit more tolerable.
Surrounded by flowers, McNall’s figure has a kind of fruit halo. She may seem historic, but McNall was inspired by a woman she encountered in Asia.
“The image is based off a woman I met traveling in Cambodia,” McNall tells SF Weekly. “I felt there was something especially empowering about her, and I wanted to share it.”
McNall, a San Francisco resident who has a BFA in printmaking and painting from Academy of Art University, frequently paints people who work with their hands.
“I find great importance in telling the stories of craft makers and workers of dying traditions from all around the world,” she says. “I see heroic qualities in these people I meet, and much to be learned. I want to share their experiences and translate them visually.”
McNall’s art, and the other painting and posters on the building, will soon disappear the way FLAX did. But the low-level building is going out in a colorful way: as a temporary outdoor gallery, on a corridor that gets lots of foot traffic and people who are in the mood for an art scene that was once easily available inside 1699 Market St.