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Crystal Vielula : Artist You Should Know

Updated: Jun 12, 2023 09:51
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The “Artist You Should Know” series highlights Bay Area artists who are doing incredible work, it’s our way of supporting the creative community and helping to keep San Francisco a strange and wonderful place.  Meet Crystal Vielula, a dynamic and multi-faceted artist whose art often makes you stop and smile.  If fact, we at stopped and smiled so many times at her work that we simply had to find out more! 

Self Portrait

Self Portrait of the artist

Name: Crystal Vielula

Medium(s): Acrylic and watercolor painting, pen and ink drawing, collage, paper sculpture, soft sculpture, costumes, ceramics, photo, performance and video

This is 8ft x 9ft mural by Crystal, will appear at SF Pride 2019, you can find at the T-Mobile installation at the Civic Center

This year, SF Pride sponsor T-Mobile asked us to help with their 2019 Civic Center installation, and we told ’em that we knew of an artist whose work over the years has painted a lovely and inclusive look into San Francisco.  With her paintbrush, pen, sewing machine, and camera she’s created a body of work that reflects a sense of community, and a true, loving, working relationship with our city.  From her interview series in the Bold Italic that highlighted artists, performers, and creators in San Francisco, to her beautifully queer & wonderfully colorful murals that decorate our city’s walls.   Meet Crystal Vielula, an artist you should know.

Diego Gomez-& Trangela from Crystal’s ‘Drawn from the City’ interview series

BAS: When did you arrive in San Francisco?
Crystal: I arrived in SF in 2000.

I’m a sophisticated graduate with a BFA or F*CK art school!
I got a lot out of art school, an incredible community and strong sewing and pattern-making skills, but I have continued to grow after graduating, dedicating time to making work and developing my craft and voice.

‘Chores; from Crystal’s ‘Queer Movie Stills’ series

What was your first job in San Francisco?
I was going to college and worked as an after-school tutor in the Mission.

Crystal’s Clarion Alley Mural

What inspired your famous Mural on Clarion Alley?
The celebration of love, I wanted to create a fun, positive depiction of queer love. Being from a group that has been regularly demonized and sexualized I wanted to create a queer pride work that is so fun and cheerful it would be hard to hate.

Window Instillation at Artist TV Access

You recently did a live performance at Artist TV Access in the Mission, tell us about it.

At the celebration of my window installation at ATA I wanted to create an interactive performance piece continuing the concept from the window installation I made titled “You Are Loved No Matter How You Blossom“. The window depicts 3 deities from the Planet Genera that have floral genital heads. Genera is a place where the beings’ genitals continually change throughout their lives, therefore gender does not exist and neither do hierarchies based on gender. All beings are able to pursue their interests and attractions freely and there is no basis for repression, exploitation and violence, in essence it is a utopia. I created costumes and props for two performers who played disciples from Genera, offering wisdom and delights from their planet. With four other dancers we did a dance performance where we entered the portal to Genera and danced in a projection of one of my utopic collages. At the end of the performance the audience was invited to dance in the light of utopia, it was a blast!!!

You’ve interviewed & illustrated lot’s of SF artists, what made you want to start that Drawn from the City series? And why is it important to you?

I started the Drawn From the City series as an excuse to get to know all of the amazing people I saw in the city that makes this place special. It’s so interesting hearing people’s stories, like performing with the Cockettes at the Palace Theatre in 1972, and learning more about what they’re into, like hand sewing all of their clothing and the communities they are a part of, like the die-hard roller skaters in Golden Gate Park. I was working on this project in the midst of the second tech boom and beginning of the mass evictions in the city. I was freaked out by how quickly the city was changing and devastated watching so many culture makers and elders get pushed out. This project is a time capsule of the San Francisco that I love and call home.

Caravida Best, ‘Drawn from the City’ series

Any SF artists you think are particularly outstanding right now?
Craig Calderwood, MCXT, Jamil Hellu.

Rainbow Bloom Crystal Vielula, Utopia collages for 2019 MUNI Art  project

What’s the coolest gallery right now?
I love the large installations that the Chandran Gallery has put on in the past couple of years.

Chandran Gallery SF (Richard Colman installation)

Favorite street art right now?
I love the new mural by JR on Octavia in Hayes Valley, also Jet Martinez is killing it!

French artist JR’s Mural on Octavia in Hayes Valley, seeks to capture all of  San Francisco in an image.

What does it take to make it as an artist in SF these days?
It takes a strong community, a day job, rent control, resourcefulness and resilience.

From Crystal’s Coloring Books

What’s coming up for you?
I’m working on some costumes for videos about the celebration of all people and commentary on our societies treatment of gender, I’m going to collaborate with dance companies to create collage projections for performances, I have a new SF postcard coloring book that I’m finishing up and I’m always on the lookout for mural opportunities especially for queer spaces and businesses so hopefully there are some new murals on the horizon as well!

Check out Crystal’s Newest Mural at this year’s 2019 San Francisco Pride, Generations of Resistance! Look for the #UnlimitedPride installation at the SF Civic Center June 29 & 30th, also see her work on display at Gay Area: Bay Area Queer Artist Showcase, & at the Stonewall 50 years exhibition at Harvey Milk Photo Center June 22-July 21, 2019.

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

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