By Sarah Berjan
The Ingleside community is now decorated with one of a kind hand-painted banners as a part of a beautification initiative founded by Arts Alive Ingleside. It all began roughly two years ago 74 artists were selected, but only two were given the opportunity to permanently hang their banners. City College Student, artist, and award-winning photographer Ekevara “Ekey” Kitpowsong was one of the two artists whose artwork hangs on ocean ave.
“I felt so honored. I was surprised to have my artwork selected again after those two years,” Kitpowsong said. “I was so excited, but mostly honored because my artwork can be displayed in this community again.”
Kitpowsong a.k.a “The Aperturist” was born in Chicago and raised in Bangkok, where she attended Rangsit University and received her bachelor of fine arts degree in interior design. She later moved back to the U.S. and earned a master of fine arts degree from Memphis College of Art, and a certificate in professional sequence in web design certificate from the University of California, Berkeley Extension. Her passion for journalism and documentary photography led her to join The Guardsman campus newspaper where she has served as staff photographer, online content manager, photo editor and online news director. She is currently majoring in journalism at City College of San Francisco.
“I began my studies at city college in 2007. So, I’ve been coming to this neighborhood for a long time. To finally see my artwork as a part of this neighborhood makes me feel grateful for this opportunity,” Kitpowsong said.
In the year 2015, she saw an advertisement posted by Arts Alive Ingleside Project requesting for acrylic hand-painted submissions by San Franciscans to use for temporary banners on Ocean Avenue. Contestants were required to first submit a sketch of their paintings, then upon selection, were given 22.2’’ by 52’’inch banners for the submission of their final product. All 74 artists showcased their work in 2016 as they hung their banners on designated lamp posts. The goal, according to the associate director of the Ocean Avenue Association Neil Ballard, is to beautify the street and make it look attractive.
“Having these unique art banners is a great way to make the street look lively and add to the experience of people walking and driving on the street.” Ballard said. “Having artwork that represents that image [of the landmark El Rey Theatre] really is a good way to tie in art and the physical form of the street.”
All banners were revealed on May 1, 2016 in an unveiling event attended by the artists, the community, project contributors and the media. A silent auction of the banner occurred during the event. According to the chair of the Ocean Avenue Association Alex Mullanuy, Permanent banners using select artwork from the project replaced the arts banners. Half of the auction proceeds will fund the Arts Alive Ingleside project and half will support the artists themselves.
“They will be up there for at least a year. So, maybe in a few months we will have a better idea about what is going to come next in Arts Alive Ingleside. The Ocean Avenue Association used to use as they are in the street. We wanted to highlight two artists, and also highlight the coordinator. Both pieces have the same building, the El Rey theatre landmark. It is an iconic building and that is why we selected those two banners. Both artists were paid for the privilege for us to use their art,” Mullanuy said.
Kitpowsong’s piece incorperated black and gold acrylic paint which captured Ocean Ave. and the Ingleside community. She utilized her photography to inspire her detailed work. The painting featured City College, the Sundial, El Rey theatre, and Beep’s Burgers.
“Before sketching, I walked around Ocean Ave to absorb everything and to see how the community is doing, so I just walked around and took photos, and to see how people live on ocean avenue and to see what it was like during the daytime to create a memory of that. I wanted to create my artwork based on what was happening here,” Kitpowsong said.
“If you follow your dream and work hard, you will find success. It is something that anyone can do as long as you keep doing it and work hard on it. ” Kitpowsong said.