Can art inspire change? Can art elevate the soul of a neighborhood?
This little gem of a documentary, A Brush with the Tenderloin, explores what happens when San Francisco-based muralist Mona Caron decides to paint a magical mural at the intersection of Golden Gate Avenue and Jones Street in one of San Francisco’s edgiest neighborhoods, the Tenderloin district.
Directed by Paige Bierma, this film follows artist Mona through a very personal journey as she conceives, creates and collaborates with the Tenderloin community on a mural that inspires revitalization in a neighborhood that has seen better days.
I enjoyed Mona’s perspective on art. She notes that she doesn’t “do hall of fame murals”. Instead, for her work “Windows Into The Tenderloin” she wanted the flow of the painting to draw the eye upwards, because that very action makes people pause, to look around their neighborhood, to really see it, and to imagine the possibilities.
Some of the most heart-warming moments were when Mona started to paint the people of the Tenderloin community, such as Indian Joe, into the mural. I could sense incredible pride instilled in the locals when they saw themselves in the beautiful mural, a feeling of belonging and acknowledgement.
Brush demonstrates how art breathes and how it does interact with reality. Perhaps art at times is hope and dreams, captured in a form that can be shared.
A Brush with the Tenderloin premieres at Mill Valley Film Festival 2011 on October 15th.