Artist Sirron Norris knows San Francisco and its murals. And, with his work for the Walt Disney Family Museum, he knows Mickey Mouse, too.

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June 3, 2019
Artist Sirron Norris knows San Francisco and its murals. And, with his work for the Walt Disney Family Museum, he knows Mickey Mouse, too.

How I See San Francisco: Artist Sirron Norris

Sirron Norris started his art career in San Francisco as an Artist in Residence with the de Young Museum in 2000 and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in 2002. Known for his public art contributions, particularly "Victorion: El Defensor de la Mission" in Balmy Alley, his work is found throughout the city: at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, Westfield San Francisco Shopping Centre, Clarion Alley, and more. Norris was recently commissioned to contribute a new piece for the Walt Disney Family Museum's "Mickey Mouse: From Walt to the World" exhibition, celebrating the museum's 10 year anniversary in 2019. Here, Sirron shares some thoughts on San Francisco, the city's arts scene, and Mickey Mouse.

Sirron Norris, "Generations" (2018); courtesy of Sirron Norris, © Disney

What was your inspiration for "Generations" in the Walt Disney Family Museum’s Mickey Mouse exhibition?

Over the past 10 years, the museum has shown several artists that inspire my work, specifically Eyvind Earle, known for his work in "Sleeping Beauty," and Mary Blair, known for "Peter Pan". The piece pays homage to them. On a personal note, my grandfather was stationed at The Presidio in the 1950s and he was the first black officer in his regiment. The piece pays tribute to his memory.

How did your participation in the "Mickey" exhibition come about?

The Museum asked me to participate in “The Big Draw Festival.” Through that experience, they learned of my excitement for the artists they’ve featured at the museum.

Is there any other piece in the "Mickey" exhibition that particularly caught your eye?

The Eric Robison piece is compelling to me because it represents the convergence of fine art and animation.

Do you have a favorite place in the city for someone to see your work?

A corridor on Bryant St. One mural, entitled “More Housing,” is on 18th and Bryant streets. Then, a block away at 20th and Bryant streets, another mural is entitled, “The Disruption.” Both murals are colorful and filled with my cartoon style, but if you look closely, they contain political statements about gentrification and police brutality.

Your work is often connected to the Mission District. Why should a visitor stop in the Mission?

See vibrant colors, hear blaring music, and smell the spice of Latinx culture.

San Francisco has a strong mural history. Do you have a favorite public mural in the city?

“No Ceiling” by Believe in People on the corner of Jesse and Mission streets. It reminds me of my wife and the bad-ass that she is.

What about San Francisco makes it a great city for culture?

You get to enjoy art for free through our public murals and sculptures. The murals celebrate the various cultures and political statements that represent our city.

When you're not at work, where would we find you in the city?

Glen Park Canyon with my three puppies, Carpet, Milk, and Obama.

Do you have a favorite restaurant in the city?

Nopalito, because they have tacos arabes (Arabian tacos). It reminds me of where my wife’s family is from in Puebla, Mexico. I also love Saru, a sushi spot on 24th St. in Noe Valley.

What is a must-see in of the city for visitors?

Balmy Alley.

What's your favorite annual festival in San Francisco?

Carnaval.

Do you have a favorite excursion to recommend outside of the city?

If you want luxury, go to Indian Springs, Calistoga. If you want a free excursion, explore 1,000-year old caves at the National Pinnacles Monument in Soledad.

What's one item still on your San Francisco bucket list?

The Indigenous People Sunrise Ceremony at Alcatraz Island.

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