Artist brings nature back to SF 

Paul “Moose” Curtis is trying to make the world a cleaner place — or at least make people aware of how dirty the world really is.
Using only recycled rainwater and a power washer, Curtis scrubbed away parts of the grit and grime caked on the Broadway Tunnel to create artwork in the form of trees through the stretch that connects the North Beach and Russian Hill neighborhoods.

The technique, known as reverse graffiti, is popping up in cities around the world. Curtis removes the dirt, grime and pollution that people are so accustomed to seeing and replaces it with something he thinks is becoming scarcer: nature.

“Some look at it as graffiti, but the work really comes from cleaning it,” the 45-year-old British artist said. “Every single time I do something, every mark I make, shows people how dirty the world is.”

The south side of the Broadway Tunnel is the perfect spot for the mural, Curtis said, because of the amount of dirt it collects and because it was one of the few spots in The City that was not completely covered in actual graffiti.

Curtis first created a mural of trees in 2008 at the request of Green Works, a company owned by Clorox. He has since taken the advertisement and logo off and is reverting back to the origin of his message of cleaning the dirt created by man, without supporting corporations.

Curtis returned to the Broadway Tunnel in June to “enhance” the mural. He said he will come back in October to do more work. Until then, he’s soliciting trees types to include on the tunnel walls.

The murals — which can take hours to create — slowly fade over time, which, Curtis said, is part of his point.

“It helps compound the message of what we are doing to the environment,” he said.

The Broadway Tunnel is maintained by the Department of Public Works, which cleans the tunnel four times a year, spokeswoman Christine Falvey said.

Falvey said she was not aware of any special permission being asked to do the mural on the tunnel wall, but noted the mural would not be removed before the scheduled cleaning.

The trees, though, received a warm reception from the community.

“It’s really exciting,” said Judy Junghans, a member of Russian Hill Neighbors. “We’ve wanted to plant trees on the side of the hills and tunnels for years.”

akoskey@sfexaminer.com


Reverse graffiti


What: Mural of trees
Where: Russian Hill side of Broadway Tunnel
How: Washing away dirt and grime
Tools: Power washer, recycled water
Message: The world is dirty and it only takes water to clean it up

Source: Reverse Graffiti Project

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