Notes from The Gauntlet

“The Gauntlet” is what my partner, Cliff Hengst, and I have long dubbed the block of Capp St. between our apartment and our art studios in the Mission. On any given day you can find — through the obstacle course of trash, rotting food, feces, needles, and other junk — random personal ephemera: scrawled notes, posted messages, discarded family photographs, and abandoned letters. I even once found a box of bizarre Chinese “gentlemen” magazines from the early eighties (Score!). While most of the Mission has witnessed some dramatic redevelopment, this block has changed little in the 17 years we have lived here.

Over the years, on our multi-daily treks to the studio and back, we have amassed an oddball collection of items from the block, of which here are presented a small, mostly handwritten, selection. It’s not the most uplifting group of items, but they exude an aura of real power that have over time made their presence felt in the studio and how I think about my work, and working in this city. As tough as it is to be a struggling artist in San Francisco, I am reminded that there are tougher struggles out there.

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