In the streets of the Tenderloin, you might notice something peculiar about its potholes, which contain anything from broken disco balls and rainbow Skittles to neon blue bubbles and bits of scrabble.
That’s because local artist Rik Lee Leipold has been filling in these urban “blights” with resin, among vibrant personal objects associated with the neighborhood’s beloved—and defunct—LGBTQ dive bars. Now, Leipold is collaborating with Bay Area artists Diego Gomez and Donna Personna for his new series of potholes, “Resin in Pavement,” which has taken on poignant new meaning.
“It’s about reclaiming space,” says Leipold of his recent collaboration with Personna, transgender rights activist and legendary queen. Personna’s pothole includes personal items like clip-on earrings and fake eyelashes—accessories, which, fifty years ago, could land a person in jail. “Queens didn’t wear regular earrings; if you had your ears pierced, it was a sign of being gay,” says Leipold. Subsequently, wearing such accessories was an act of rebellion and resilience in an oppressive, heteronormative society.
On September 5, join Leipold and the Tenderloin Museum for a "Resin in Pavement" Walking Tour which visits each pothole and celebrates the neighborhood’s beloved, LGBTQ spaces—and the enduring legacies they leave behind. Stay tuned for more updates on upcoming artist collaborations.
About the Artists
Rik Lee Leipold
Rik Lee Leipold is an artist living and working in San Francisco. Over the past five years, they've been fixing potholes with resin and embedded objects that hold meaning to him and his communities. They began this project in the Tenderloin neighborhood, which is steeped in history. However, the sidewalks are often in disrepair and one can find discarded syringes on the street. Leipold's intention is to bring something fun and accessible to the people that walk and wheel up and down the paved hills of San Francisco.
This project has been supported by SFAC as well as Wildflowers Institute to create new works of art in the Tenderloin. Queer spaces have been closing down all over the city, leaving only one gay bar in the Tenderloin. Even still, no bars have been open for months since Shelter-In-Place started. This project is about place-making. The original intention was to showcase eight artists in conjunction with a walking tour. Because of Covid-19 constraints, Leipold has decided to pare down the project to include two artists at a time. In the past, they would fill potholes in the early hours before the sun comes up, mixing and pouring resin on the spot and waiting for it to cure. His new method involves creating resin "tiles" which can be used to fill potholes and cemented in for more durability and providing more accessibility.
Diego Gomez is an educator of Fashion at CCSF, the creator of the civil rights graphic novel "1963 Is Not an End, But A Beginning: A Graphic History”, the fashion comic book "Hell Babes", the fashion illustration book ”The Hard-Femme Ex-Men" & the collaborative/multi-media “Daddy Issues” magazine. Diego's work is currently being commissioned by Lower Polk CBD to create artwork for the Big Belly trash cans in the Tenderloin neighborhood. They also make stickers & prints designed around queerness, brown-ness & equality. You can find him all over cyber space @DesignNurd.
Donna Personna is a San Francisco drag performer and fine arts photographer with 19 professional exhibits to her credit, with one exhibition in a NYC gallery. She is also an activist in San Francisco, having served on the boards of the Trans March, and a trans focus group at Openhouse. She has also served on the committees of TDoR, TDoV, and the committee to rename Tenderloin streets after the Compton's Cafeteria Riot and transgender icon Vickie Marlane. Donna was part of San Francisco history by raising the Transgender flag at San Francisco City Hall along with Mayor London Breed, and was a Grand Marshall of SF Pride in 2019. She is a co-playwright of the Compton's Cafeteria Riot play production. She is also a film personality, having been featured in several films. Donna continues to stay active in social justice causes.
**Covid-19 safety information**
All public health guidelines must be adhered to while we continue to navigate Covid-19. During the tour, everyone is required to wear a covering (either a bandana, mask, or scarf) over the nose and mouth. We will ask each of you to maintain physical distance of six feet from those you do not live with, and suggest you have hand sanitizer on-hand. Public restrooms are also likely not going to be an option. We look forward to safely seeing you for this outdoor tour!