SF can be gorgeous, but it can also be really sad. It probably has one of the worst homelessness situations in all of America. There are homeless people everywhere, and the homelessness is often coupled with mental illness. They receive no support and no help from anyone. The city is so weird. If you walk down 5th Street, there’s a luxury Westfield Shopping Centre and most of the people around you are in business wear. It feels safe. If you go to the next street – 6th Street – the atmosphere changes entirely. Every second store is run down or boarded up. It’s lined with sex shops and cheap hotels. Most of the people on the street look like they’re either on drugs, selling drugs, or were somehow affected by drugs.
The confronting thing about 6th Street wasn’t so much that I felt unsafe (although I did and wanted to get out of there as soon as I realised where I was). It was confronting because it made me realise all the problems we see on TV and in films – the crime, the gangs, the poverty, the drug use, the downward spiral into places we can only imagine – it’s all real. We watch shows like The Wire or any number of programs that show the extreme levels of disadvantage some people experience in the U.S. and we know at the back of our minds it’s all based in reality and that the culture exists, but we’re so far away from it for it to be real to us. We are literally an ocean away from it – the only place we see it is in the media, so in a way we can’t even comprehend how it could be real.
Walking up 6th Street, it all hit me at once that everything I’ve seen is real, that the situations I’ve seen people get into on TV are the kinds of situations that affect real people in a place where I also exist. It’s something I haven’t been able to stop thinking about.
What it must be like at the top of the ziggurat.
Acrylic on canvas paper.
Everyone sounds drunk.
This is a photo of an edible flower salad from the farmers’ market in Temescal, California.
I’ve spent the past month in the US – the first week in Los Angeles for E3 (I caught strep and was out of action for the whole week, which was incredibly disappointing (also, being sick in a foreign country with a shonky healthcare system is not ideal!)) and the past three weeks in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’ve been working out of a little office on the East Bay and travelling into San Francisco for media appointments. In the three weeks I have been here, I’ve been invited to and attended more media appointments than the past six months in Sydney. Things sure are different over here!
The weather is currently gorgeous, I’ve spent too much money on clothes and food, my dictaphone’s battery is almost gone because I’ve conducted so many interviews, my hair is now the shortest it has ever been (it is a Tiny Lady Hat Of Hair), and I successfully made a tofurkey from scratch. This has been a productive trip.
Probably my favourite painting of the ziggurat from ZiGGURAT. I liked this so much I had it as my phone’s wallpaper for a while so I could show people my work at every available opportunity. No one was really that impressed. Kristan Reed of PocketGamer.com said: “It looks like an Okami!” Silly Kristan.
Acrylic on canvas paper.