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Poetry-inspired artwork graces Muni buses

For a third year in a row, the interior of 100 Muni buses will display artwork from Bay Area artists over the next four months.

But this year, there is a twist.

This year’s five winners were given five poems from local poets, and were told to interpret them using their artistic skills. Besides the artwork, Muni riders will also see the poems accompanied with the art.

The 2018 winners Donavon Brutus, Mara Hernandez, Tsungwei Moo, Randi Pace and Janet Rumsey, received a check of $1,250 from San Francisco Beautiful, which puts on the contest for artists to submit their work for a chance to have their work displayed inside Muni buses.

The theme this year is “Art of Poetry in San Francisco,” and is a collaboration with Poetry in America.

Brutus, an animator and illustrator originally from Arkansas but now resides in San Francisco, said it will be exciting to see his artwork on Muni buses as he frequently takes Muni too.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency on Thursday displayed some of the artwork inside a Muni bus, including one from Brutus accompanied with the poem “Traffic” by Brynn Saito.

Brutus said of his interpretation of the poem:

“It seemed like different emotional states you feel when you’re driving. You’re angry and then you’re laughing, having a good time singing, and then you’re bored and melancholy because driving is awful.”

In addition, the five artists will have three panels displayed inside Muni buses related to the theme this year.

Brutus will have a panel with the Golden Gate Bridge with two people holding on to each other, originally a photo he had taken while visiting The City in 2014.

Supervisor Sandra Fewer joined the five artists in congratulating them. Fewer said:

“For the next few months, public transit riders will be able to enjoy poetry and visual art on their way to work, school, or even grocery shopping.”

Darcy Brown, executive director of San Francisco Beautiful, said about the Muni Art program:

“More than any other program, Muni Art exemplifies the inclusive spirit of San Francisco by bringing the joy of art and poetry to all.”

The Muni Art program this year is funded by members of San Francisco Beautiful, AT&T, the Wilsey Foundation, the Zellerbach Family Foundation and the Union Square Business Improvement District.

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