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When I first came to this city in 1991 I had aspirations of being an artist. Not just any artist, but a San Francisco based artist.

I explored the city when I first arrived. Believe it or not, I actually rode every possible kind of public transportation. Every single bus line, every single train, street car, etc. I would get on, ride it all the way to both ends of each route and get to know the city as best I could. It took me two weeks, but soon I had become an expert on San Francisco’s MUNI and what parts of the city inspired me the most.

Now, here I am twenty years later and the city is still a mystery to me in many ways.

As a student at SFAI, I encountered the CITY STUDIO program around 2007. The artist Julio Morales brought a group of City Studio students into an exhibition at the Walter & McBean galleries at 800 Chestnut street where I was working. I was overwhelmed by how this group of kids responded to the art work, saying all the things that I’m certain other people were thinking but were afraid to say.

It was at this time that I began to take an interest in the City Studio program.

The idea of the city as a kind of studio–a space where one can find solitude, social tensions, and create a better and more interesting future–has always intrigued me. The program seemed almost too obvious. Of course…City Studio means quite literally that the City is the Studio.

Was I the only one who got that? No. But when I look back on how I lived in the city when I first moved here, and how I live in it now as an artist, I know that I have a unique vision of San Francisco. My desire is to see the City Studio program expand and let more young people in the Bay Area discover that their city is in fact a studio, and more importantly, help discover that they might actually be artists, and that those things that the kids from Julio’s class said in the exhibition that I mentioned above could be the kinds of things that they say outside the space of the gallery, and speak their minds on the streets…

-Faustino Mendonça, Chinatown, San Francisco, April 2011

Co-developer of City Studio Press: Artists as Journalists

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