Beloved San Francisco mural of Robin Williams will disappear this week

If you’ve ever walked the stretch of Market Street between Sixth and Seventh streets, you’ve likely noticed the smiling eyes of a familiar face looking down on you as you pass.

This week may be the last time you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the block’s large mural of Robin Williams, which has anchored 1028 Market since Aug. 2018. Developers Olympic Residential Group and Tidewater Capital broke ground on a long-awaited rental building at the address last week, which means the mural soon disappear.

Demolition began Monday on the 1907 building that once housed a theater, a billiards parlor and a strip club. Construction crew members on-site said the mural will likely be gone by the end of this week.

The image depicts an older version of the comedian inspired by a 2011 photograph by Peter Hapak. The mural’s painter, a street artist from Argentina named Cobre, said he chose the photo because it was a lesser-known image of Williams.

“That picture is beautiful because it’s not a very known picture of him,” Cobre said. “He has a beard and long hair and that shows how sad he was before he died.”

The image, showing just the middle of the actor’s aging face, displays bright blue eyes and flowing silver hair. Cobre said he’d like to find a new spot to paint a similar mural in San Francisco in the future.

“I like painting cultural icons,” Cobre said. “He’s a great actor and human being and I made this as an homage to him. For everything he made for my generation and the San Francisco people.”

Cobre said he’s painting a new, unrelated mural in the Financial District at the end of the month.

The work took Cobre six days to complete. He was able to secure the wall space on the suggestion of a San Francisco artist named Camer1, who had previously painted the surface.

Dan Deibel, founder and principal of Olympic, said he had no comment when asked about removing the mural.

“I get it. This kind of art isn’t meant to last,” Cobre said. “Street art is meant to be there for a couple of years. It had a pretty good run. People from all over the world shared that image and it was a pretty big mural for my career.”

The two-story housing complex is just one of many developments happening along the city’s main corridor in an effort to revitalize the mid-market neighborhood. The site has been vacant since October 2017, when Tidewater Capital closed its temporary food market that operated in the building for two years.

The Bay Area already has two public tributes to the comedian, who died on Aug. 11, 2014. In 2015, the state of California renamed the rainbow-arched tunnel connecting the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin. Then in 2017, the city renamed a meadow in Golden Gate Park, a place near where he performed early in his career, after the actor.

Tessa McLean is a digital editor with SFGATE. Email her at tessa.mclean@sfgate.com.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/robin-williams-mural-torn-down-14542313.php.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *