This New SF Exhibit Is an Ode to Working-Class San Francisco

For hundreds of thousands of San Franciscans, SFMTA plays a major role in their day-to-day lives.

San Francisco is a city founded by blue-collar workers —  a sentiment that solidified during the Gold Rush when tens of thousands of transients descended on SF en route to mining grounds. Fast forward some 150-plus years later, the seven-by-seven has now found itself divided by wealth and income inequalities.

That’s not to say SF can’t (and won’t) return to its more grounded roots; we’re already seeing a semblance of that with rents stabilizing across the city; the number of sub-$1,500 studios on the market right now is a refreshing sight.

San Francisco is also a city synonymous with public transit. In 2021, over 4 million people rode Muni to crisscross SF. Now until April 9th, SOMArts — the culture center and beloved gallery space at 934 Brannan Street — is hosting its Muni Raised Me exhibit, which is the second installment in the center’s Curatorial Residency program.

Described as a “love letter to working-class San Francisco,” the exhibit is curated by Meymey Lee, Sasha Vu, and Celi Tamayo-Lee, featuring a long list of San Francisco-born-and-raised talent. All of the exhibit’s curations organized Muni Raised Me around a central notion: the importance of public services in day-to-day life for San Franciscans.

Whether this is getting to and from work, a jaunt to meet friends, or partaking in a bicep-straining grocery haul, SFMTA plays a crucial part in the daily routines of many San Franciscans.

Exhibit artists. Photo: Courtesy of Rich Lomibao

Muni Raised Me doubles as a CTA and PSA for SF’s public transportation networks, as well. 

“The cost of living in San Francisco is the cost of heartbreak,” reads a statement coauthored by the exhibit’s curators. “As San Francisco-born-and-raised people, we are doing what we’ve always done — creating cuts. This time we’re getting cutty in the art world and creating spaces of radical grief and love for this city.”

Bus installation. Courtesy of Rich Lomibao

The curators went on to add that this exhibit is “foghorn” for public service — “[and] to all who have ever relied on public school, public parks, or public transit to come together, love each other, and support each other.”

May that bellow ring loud and clear across San Francisco.

Muni Raised Me closes is currently on display at SOMArts (934 Brannan Street) and is free to the public during gallery hours; for more information on the exhibit, visit

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