New mural at SFMOMA honors those often unseen in San Francisco

A unique mural was unveiled at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Thursday night. 

"The Chronicles of San Francisco" is the work of a French artist who calls himself "JR." He's been named as one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in 2018.  

The artwork features the images of 1,206 people and their voices. As a teenager in Paris, JR tagged buildings. He started taking photos after finding a camera on the Paris Metro. JR has created large scale portraits but says he's never done anything like the mural he now has on display at SFMOMA.

"This is a mural of society. No one should be left out," said JR. 

He says he created the mural as a way to learn about San Francisco, a city of economic disparity and diversity. It is an animated digital photo collage which scrolls continuously across a seamless span of large screens stretching over 100 feet.  

"It's a mirror of San Francisco.  It represents from the richest person to the poorest," said JR.

From the homeless to the famous, they’re all connected by this project. JR interviewed every single person in the mural by visiting neighborhoods across the city in a large truck that functioned as a mobile studio. 

"No one is more important than another. Everyone is under the same light," said JR. 

He asked each of his subjects how they wanted to be remembered, including one woman with muscular dystrophy. 

"We're seen as outsiders, but we're really not.  To be a part of this landscape is really important," said Alice Wong of San Francisco.  

JR's subjects included some public figures.

"Draymond Green showed up in front of City Hall and came inside the truck," said JR.   

The public can listen to Draymond Green and others with iPads provided at the museum or through a free app. Green, a Michigan native, spoke about his love for his adopted city, 

"Such a great city. I've come into my manhood here and I love it here.  It's been amazing to me."  

Marc Benioff, a San Francisco native and founder of Salesforce is depicted holding a sign about equal pay.  On the audio recording, he said in part, 
"One of the most important things to me at Salesforce is not just trust, or growth, or innovation, but it's equality." 

Thursday opening night is the first time participants saw the finished work.

"Just here looking at the art, it's amazing.  It's very awesome," said Janice Smith who participated in the mural. 

The former graffiti artist hopes his work will inspire people to learn about those around them.
"Stop and listen to each other. Look at each other.  That's what this mural is about," said JR. 

The mural will be up for one year. It is located on the ground level in the public space area of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. It's free for everyone.