Muni exhibit is love letter to San Francisco's working class

A new art exhibit put a spotlight on the lives of native San Franciscans and their journeys on Muni.

Organizers called it a love letter to the city's working class.

The exhibit featured the work of 13 artists. Most are women.

Through their art work, they shared their stories about the important role Muni played in their lives and its lasting impact.   

"This is dim sum which means a little piece of your heart in Chinese. I feel like that ties back to San Francisco.  San Francisco has a little piece of my heart," said artist Sasha Vu who is co-curator.

The exhibit is "Muni Raised Me." 
 Vu's art work adorned  the exterior of a bus donated by SFMTA.  

"It gave me a freedom that I feel is unique to growing up in the city," said Vu.

The bus was the centerpiece of the exhibit at SOMArts Cultural Center in San Francisco. 

"It's so nice to sit up here like you're driving the bus," said artist Ling Ling Lee.  

She was the main artist behind the work inside the bus.

She described it as being a living room, a shared home with people from across the city.  

There was an altar that paid homage to icons such as poet Maya Angelou who was San Francisco's first African American female street car conductor

"When I think of an altar,I think of going to temple with my family and doing rituals with my family at the cemetery. I think of my Chinese culture,"said Lee.  

On the walls of the gallery, there are paintings by Melan Allen, a self-described food artist.

"This is my journey of  different districts, different places that gave me my favorite treats," said Allen.  

Her treats are barbeque pork buns,  a burrito and a cup of Irish coffee illustrated in her paintings of Muni's monthly fast pass.

She described her journey as part of what she called "San Francisco magic" she experienced growing up in the city. 

"If you take the bus, you are getting to know the city in ways that you  can not do in any other way," said Allen.

"This one is made of scraps from other projects," said artist Sophia Mitguard, pointing to a jacket she made by hand. 

She said she still takes the bus.

"My main goal is for city kids to remember where they came from and that they are valuable," she said. 

An exhibit was about public transit being the lifeline for many San Franciscans-a constant in a changing world.

The artists said Muni is a way to bring people of all backgrounds together. 

"This is the black panther and this is the traditional Asian dragon. And together, they represent Black and Asian solidarity and this top part is homage to San Francisco's queer culture,"  said Vu as she described one aspect of the artwork on the display.

The exhibit is available through April 9. Admission is free. The SOMArts Cultural Center is funded by grants, donations, and the city.

Amber Lee is a reporter with KTVU. Email Amber at or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on Facebook @AmberKTVU,  Instagram @AmberKTVU  or Twitter @AmberKTVU