Joanna Poethig is a visual and performance
artist who has been creating public art
more than 20 years. One of her most famous murals appeared on the wall of
the Harvey Milk Rec Center in Duboce Park in San Francisco in 1988 (below).
It was one of the first public tributes to Harvey Milk--the late San
Francisco Supervisor known for his wry wit and gifts as an organizer and
coalition builder whose career is chronicled in the 2008 commercially released film "Milk"--after
he was assassinated in 1978.
The mural, created on a very limited budget and an even more limited
timeframe, drew fanfare at its unveiling. Poethig has said the mural depicts
Milk "painted in his
victory pose on top of the image of himself dressed as a clown, with his
beloved dog in the foreground. The other figures represent the activities at
the recreation center."
Due to damage from the 20 years in the sun and lack of proper care, the
mural will soon be painted over by the City of San Francisco.
Poethig's murals can be seen in various cities across the United States and
the world, including
Santiago de Cuba, and
San Leandro, CA.
Her approach to art is both cunning and participatory. She has poked fun at
stereotypes of women through her work in the Gutter Gals art collective and
through such installations as "The Untouchables: Trophy Wives," a doll
collection set atop the traditional wood or metal-and-marble award
pedestals. One other trademark of her career in creation of art is
participation of students, community members, and neighbors, a tradition
that has included women in prison and reentering the outside world involved
in making posters and local children in the decoration of their playground.
She is currently on the faculty of the Visual and Public Art Institute at
California State University, Monterey Bay. More information about Poethig
and her work can be found
Past Progressive Victory Artists of the Month
Gammel & Peter Marquez
* Jeri Riggs