6 Bay Area Artists to Watch
The Bay Area has long been known for its artistic community. Cities like San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and elsewhere have well established scenes that aren’t afraid to push boundaries, piss off property owners and add some life to otherwise lifeless places.
Art is everywhere and everyone seems to think they’re an artist, but in this age of social media saturation, there are a handful of Bay Area-based artists that still manage to stand out with their colorful visuals, unique humor, and compelling political messages.
While I’ve received a ton of submissions from a variety of very talented artists, these are the six that are currently the most interesting.
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Here we go:
Art Tits is a local multi-media artist born and raised in San Francisco. She often uses humor as a form of expression. She describes her work as a type of potent catharsis and hopes her art can be used as a conduit for conversation. She specializes in everything from paintings to collages and printmaking. “I feel that as a multifaceted individual my work should be a reflection of this.” Despite her talent in a multitude of mediums, she prefers a more low key approach to creativity. “I feel easily boxed in by the expectations of what it means to be a successful artist. I just want to work, and connect with others.”
Ian the Meow
Ian the Meow is a San Francisco-based street artist whose adorable cat character can be found on anything from sidewalks to street lights. While San Francisco’s street art has a tendency to be political in nature, Ian’s art features a cute cat that reminds the random passerby to “be nice” and focus on their mental health. Mindful messages like Ian’s are a nice distraction from the constant grind of city life in a seemingly perpetual pandemic.
Follow Ian the Meow on Instagram here.
Looksnatcher is an Oakland-based artist. His work often features lifelike depictions of people in varying states of mental anguish. Truly poignant street art is something that can capture specific aspects of the human experience with all its complexities and present it in a digestible way. His aggressive visuals and anti-capitalist overtones are one of the reasons Looksnatcher is a Bay Area artist to look out for.
Follow Looksnatcher on Instagram here.
Ricky Rat is a Bay Area cartoon character who’s known on both sides of the Bay Bridge. His cartoon rat is a stoney anti-gentrification equivalent to Mickey Mouse. Ricky’s one liners, which used to only grace San Francisco’s plywood-laden street corners, are now increasingly visible in Oakland and the greater East Bay. Street art is only one aspect to the Ricky Rat character, he is also the protagonist of his own comic book where he does everything from defeat the Salesforce Tower to go on a road trip with Dick Cheney.
C. Gazaleh is a San Francisco-based muralist whose art reflects the struggle and humanity of the Palestinian people. Each piece is a celebration of daily life and perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds. His work can be found all over San Francisco, and is prominently featured everywhere from small alleyways to entire buildings. While his murals are visually impressive, his natural ability to educate, uplift and inspire is what makes his images uniquely powerful. While it has become popular to say “Free Palestine” on social media, Chris’ work doesn’t just say it, it shows you why.
Lucía González Ippolito
Lucía González Ippolito is a Mexican-American artist and teacher, born and raised in San Francisco’s Mission District. As a Chicana growing up in a Latino neighborhood that has been vastly impacted by gentrification, Lucia felt it was her duty to focus on cultural/political themes in her artwork. As a muralist, she has directed and designed five murals in the Mission District, all focusing on the culture, activism, issues of displacement, wealth, and systemic racism. Probably her most well known piece is the 25 foot “Mission Makeover Mural” in Balmy Alley. It depicts her two perspectives of the neighborhood, what she grew up with and what it has become, highlighting gentrification and its impacts on the community.
One of the Bay Area’s greatest strengths is its diversity, and the region’s art reflects that. We’ve got everything from stoner rats fighting gentrification with dick jokes, to incredibly talented muralists advocating for human rights and economic equality in ways their work can only describe. The best part of this is that this article is only scratching the surface of the immense talent, tenacity, and grit found in Bay Area Artists and the art community.
So next time you’re walking down the street, take a look around or stop into one of the random popup art shows that take place all over the Bay. If you don’t pay attention, you may be missing out on something spectacular.