Earlier this summer, the death of George Floyd sparked waves of protests on a global scale. At the same time, businesses boarded up their windows for fear of looting. Many artists were hired by San Francisco businesses to paint beautiful murals on the plywood that covered their shops. Artists used this as an opportunity to raise awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement and honor those who have died at the hands of police brutality.
Background photo: Mural on Tsunami Sushi’s boarded up windows, Fulton St.
Along with the Black Lives Matter murals, many artists are using COVID-19 as inspiration for their art. The bench seen here is painted with doodles of coronavirus particles as the artist tries to bring a lightheartedness to the pandemic.
Artists are using their talents to create political statements and encourage San Francisco residents to wear their masks.
The art that has been popping up around the city is helping both the small businesses that lend their storefronts as canvases and the artists that create something out of them. Art for Civil Discourse, a non-profit organization, and Building 180, an art agency, have teamed up to create “Paint the Void,” a project to help San Franciscan artists through the pandemic. The project connects artists to non-essential businesses affected by COVID-19 and any other business that have boarded up their windows with the goal to uplift the streets and spirits of San Francisco while supporting the local artist groups. Their efforts to connect the citizens of San Francisco has had a massive impact. In just 3 months, they have supported 91 artists who have created 100 murals for 84 different storefronts. So far, they have raised $230,000 of their $250,000 goal.
For many restaurants, the opening of parklets and outdoor dining was a godsend and saved many businesses as they entered the fifth or sixth month of lockdown. However, this turned out to be a false sense of security, as San Francisco went into a second lockdown when we entered the purple tier on November 28th. Now restaurants must go back to take-out exclusively, although many don’t have the resources to do even this.
Along with not having the proper resources for outdoor dining, some businesses are suffering due to the decrease of tourism in the city. Many restaurants in Japantown rely on foot traffic in the plaza for their business. Now that the pandemic has imposed travel restrictions, foot traffic is down and these restaurants are suffering.
As businesses across the world suffer, the small businesses in San Francisco are no different. Yvonne Hines is the owner of Yvonne’s Southern Sweets, which has been open since 2003 and has remained open during lockdown. She offers a wide variety of authentic Southern desserts, as well as gift baskets and event catering.
Little Skillet, located on 360 Ritch St, is the last Black-owned business highlighted in this photo essay. They have recently had to close down their outdoor dining due to new San Francisco COVID-19 guidelines, but are still providing takeout and some delivery services.