This Tenderloin Mural Is a Celebration of SF’s Working Class

You’re technically considered a ‘low-income earner’ in San Francisco if you make less than $82,200 a year

San Francisco has become insurmountably difficult for anyone not making about twice the average U.S. salary to carve out a living — let alone flourish. Even the smallest of studio apartments in the city will require the lessee to make upwards of $80,000 to responsibly afford. (Don’t get us started on how much you’d need to make to afford a statistically modest two-bedroom, one-bathroom unit.) It’s an abundantly sad, and, quite frankly, demoralizing reality that’s now synonymous with SF life.

But a new mural at 455 Eddy Street titled “Pesca Pesca Redouble la Force” by former SF-based artist Erlin Geffrard is shedding a light on the working class. You know: The socioeconomic cohort responsible for educating our children, supplying our grocery stores, running our public transport systems, and others who, without hyperbole, keep our city from descending into (more) madness.

The mural, itself, celebrates Geffrard’s hardworking parents; it also emphasizes the struggle of working-class people in San Francisco and the greater Bay Area.

“It’s kind of difficult imagery,” he told the online arts magazine, Hyperallergic. “I wanted something sincere and wholesome. I wanted to share with the community a real soft moment, this moment of breath.”

Geffrard’s parents, who are originally from Haiti, immigrated to the United States in 1979, and first settled in Florida. Geffrard’s father had talked about the Bay Area throughout his childhood — which would later prove to be one reason Geffrard chose to go to the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI).

“He loved history and he knew a lot about the Black Panthers, and we’d talk about them,” Greffard told the magazine. “He loved jazz, too, and a lot of West Coast philosophy, and this seemed like an interesting way to honor him with this mural. It’s hyper-Bay-Area and filled with love and celebrating life.”

In the mural, Geffrard’s parents are pictured donning vibrant shorts, shirts, and hats, all of which are contracted by monochromatic eyewear and sandals. The two are also seen carrying fishing poles; two fish can be seen dangling from the held lines.

The fishing poles, too, exist as more than just symbolism for the gifts that come from hard work. When Geffrard’s father passed away a few years ago, some of the funerals attended — many of whom were neighborhood kids he had taught how to fish — carried fishing poles to pay their respects to their passed mentor. The painted fishing poles are a direct nod to the impact Geffrard’s father had on those he came in contact with.

As for the name of the mural? The saying translates into “fishing fishing double the strength,” the latter phrase “redouble la force,” being a mantra the artist’s family used to encourage themselves through life’s difficulties as catalysts for improvement.

For a San Francisco that seems ardent on evicting middle-class earners, it’s a timely message to keep pushing on — and hold City officials accountable for building more affordable housing and creating a livable wage.

Feature Image: Erlin Geffrard’s “Pesca Pesca Redouble la Force” (Photo: Courtesy of Hyperallergic/Barrett Moore)

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