No, These Aren’t Real Koi Fish Swimming in San Francisco

Stencil and street artist Jeremy Novy’s painted koi fish are welcomed, happenstance sights around SF as they continue to school in growing numbers.

Like we said earlier today: We can’t remember the last time we were so elated to apply SPF and see the sun in unobstructed, rain-free fashions. Of course, more rain is on the way later this week; a mild deluge is expected to help continue to inch the SF Bay Area (and California) out of drought conditions.

This weekend, more than 2” of rain fell in San Francisco as Saturday and Sunday’s storms flooded streets (again), caused storm drains to clog (again), and allowed entire hillsides to slip onto local roads (again). Some sidewalks in the city were (again) submerged… which led to a stretch of concrete becoming a bit of an optical illusion.

In a picture uploaded to his Instagram account, Jeremy Novy shares a still showing eight of his stenciled koi fish — examples that exist alongside his other public artwork pieces; (among my favorite are his queer pieces, including the bearish men he’s splayed on doors and roadblocks) — submerged in rainwater. 

One of the hashtags is perfectly fitting: “riversidewalk.”

SFGate published a highlight on Jeremy Novy’s koi last year, which included the significance behind their creation. Inspired by a college trip Novy took to China to study ancient and contemporary art, the Chinese cultural revolution, which began in the mid-1960s and ended in 1976, older belief systems like Buddhism and numerology were nearly wiped out by way of destroying any written evidence of them. In an effort to keep these learnings, moralities, and ways of living intact, artists camouflaged Chinese lucky numbers in koi paintings.

Novy was quoted saying he “[relates]” that practice into his own street art: “Whenever I place them into the world, they have a different number combination that means something.”

Perhaps in this instance, Mother Nature adds another layer of connotation to Novy’s beloved piece of SF street art: Your collective environments have all changed, and you’re all experiencing the effects of the climate crisis.

Regardless… we’re, indeed, happy to see the sun.

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